Sleep is often disturbed in chronic Lyme disease. Lack of adequate sleep worsens pain, causes fatigue, increases inflammatory cytokines and suppresses the immune system. It appears that in response to infection, the excess inflammatory cytokines produced by the immune system disturb the sleep centers of the brain. A restorative amount of sleep is 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Sleep during the few hours before midnight is most restorative.
Before trying the natural sleep medicines outlined in this article, be sure to follow the recommendations in Sleep 101: The Basics. It is most important to follow the recommendations on lowering cytokines and sleep hygiene.
Natural Medicines for Sleep in Lyme Disease Treatment
A variety of herbs can help with sleep as can prescriptive medicines. Often given the severity of the sleep disturbances seen in chronic Lyme disease, prescriptive options are necessary. It is common to layer supplements and prescriptive medicines together.
Curcumin lowers inflammatory cytokines made by the immune system that cause dysfunction of the sleep centers of the brain. It is an essential herb for any natural or prescription sleep regimen.
Herbs and nutrients that induce sleep do so through a variety of mechanisms. Some like l-theanine, GABA, and 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP) raise neurotransmitters that induce sleep. Others like valerian root interact with GABA brain receptors on nerves that induce sleep. Some sleep herbal combination products include a variety of sleep herbs like valerian, wild lettuce, l-theanine, and hops. The hormone melatonin is produced by the brain in relation to light exposure. Day-time light suppresses its production. Before sleep time there is a natural surge in production which induces sleep. Melatonin seems to work best in those with sleep cycle disturbances. It helps restore a natural sleep cycle if it is taken 1 hour before the designated sleep time. To correct sleep cycle disturbances move the designated sleep time back slowly in 15 minute increments every 3 to 7 days.
Try any of the following herbs alone or in combination. Curcumin is essential and should always be used. Be careful when mixing the L-theanine products. Try to limit the total l-theanine a night to no more than 600 mg. Each product should help within 1 to 2 nights. If one helps partially but not all the way consider taking it in combination with another. If the herbs do not work, then see your healthcare practitioner for prescription sleep medications to obtain 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
- Curcumin 500mg 1 pill 3 times a day.
- Melatonin 1 mg or 3 mg 1 hour before the designated sleep time. Find the dose that works best. Do not exceed 9mg a night. Do not take during the day due to cancer risk.
- 5-Hydroxy-tryptophan 50mgs 4 to 8 pills 1 hour before bed. Start at 4 pills and increase nightly by 1 pill till to a maximum of 8 pills if needed. (Warning: Do not take if using antidepressant prescriptive medications because this could result in very high serotonin levels in the brain which could result in death.)
- L-Theanine/GABA Combination. 100mg (l-theanine)/ 225mg (GABA) 1 to 6 pills a night 1 hour before bed. Do not exceed 1200 mg of l-theanine a day if usingit also for nerve pain or anxiety during the day too. Excessive amounts in the day are very sedating.
- Herbal Combination Product. This should include valerian root, l-theanine, hops, wild lettuce, passionflower and Jamaica dogwood 1 to 4 pills 1 hour before bed. Dose the valerian component from 300mg to 450mg and the l-theanine component up to 600mg.
by Marty Ross MD