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[The following is the full transcript of this video blog. Please note that this video, like all of Dr. Chiu's blog videos, features Dr. Chiu speaking extemporaneously– he is unscripted for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!]
What’s up my friends! My name is Dr. Titus Chiu and this is The Modern Brain.
In a recent video I filmed for you guys, I shared with you one simple tip to help you sleep through the night.
Now, some of you out there tried that out and you gave me some great feedback. Some of you said, “Wow I tried that one simple tip and I was able to sleep through the night for the first time in years.”
Some of you though reached out to me and said, “Well, Dr. Chiu, I tried that out and it didn't really impact my sleep, I don't have any trouble sleeping through the night. What I do have difficulty with is falling asleep in the first place.”
The reason why it might not have worked for you is because that advice didn't address the underlying root cause for your sleep challenges. And so the key to unlocking any type of health challenge is to always get to the root cause.
Insomnia Root Cause
So in this video, I'm going to be sharing with you a very common root cause for your sleep challenges.
It might just be your genes.
If any of these symptoms resonate with you, your genes could be at the root cause of your sleep issues.
Let me explain why.
There's a gene that's known as the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene or COMT, for short.
The job of the COMT gene is to instruct the body to produce the COMT enzyme.
COMT is used to get rid of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine a.k.a. the adrenaline from your system.
If your COMT enzyme is balanced then you will be alert, focused and typically, you'll be in good spirits. You will also be able to stay focused and concentrate for long periods of time. That means you're great at learning new things.
But that's only if your COMT is balanced.
Slow and Sleepy COMT
For many of you out there, especially if you struggle with the problems I've listed above, your COMT enzyme might be a bit slower than normal.
So if you have a genetic variation that impacts this enzyme’s balance, when you get caught in a stressful situation, your bloodstream increases your levels of adrenaline and dopamine.
These neurotransmitters are involved in excitement and thrills– and STRESS.
With low COMT, the neurotransmitters aren't able to clear out quickly so you end up feeling ramped up, irritated, even angry, and aggressive for longer periods of time than if your COMT was working fine.
You can continue to feel these negative emotions if things don't come back to balance or what we call homeostasis.
The great news is though you are not the slave to your genetics.
Our genes are not our destiny, but rather, they're just the blueprint.
If you happen to have this genetic variation, it does not mean you are doomed to never getting a good night's rest for the rest of your life. It also doesn’t mean you will have to deal with chronic pain, headaches, or have light and sound sensitivity also associated with this variation.
The beautiful thing is there's a whole field of research exploring what are known as epigenetics.
Epigenetics refers to all the different signals that our genes get from our environment. These signals can be the food we eat, the lifestyle choices we make, and even the thoughts we think. These can turn on or turn off the function of gene variations, leading to health or disease.
Take Charge of Your Genes
Now it gets even more interesting, especially when trying to treat sleep problems.
If you're armed with this information, you have the ability to shift and to actually help your body speed up processes dictated by genetic variations.
If you have high levels of adrenaline or dopamine coursing through your blood that makes it difficult for you to sleep at night, there are simple things you can do.
These DIY hacks will speed up the process of getting rid of those excess neurotransmitters and finally get a good night's sleep.
Magnesium is a master mineral.
It's involved in over 300 enzymatic processes in your brain and body. One of these processes determines the speed at which your COMT enzyme gets rid of neurotransmitters.
By increasing the levels of magnesium in your body, you can help speed up a slowed COMT enzyme allowing your nervous system to calm down faster.
So, what are ways of increasing magnesium?
Take a supplement.
I recommend the supplement magnesium threonate. The threonate compound, when attached to magnesium, helps it cross the blood-brain barrier. That's where the magnesium can play a role in the COMT enzymes found within your nervous system.
Eat magnesium-rich food.
You can also increase your magnesium intake by eating food that is high in magnesium.
Common options include almonds, dark leafy vegetables, Brazil nuts and pine nuts also have really high levels of magnesium.
Increasing the amount of magnesium in your body is one way that you can speed up a slow COMT enzyme to help you fall asleep.
If you have a slow COMT and you drink caffeine, you can increase your levels of adrenaline and dopamine in your bloodstream.
This means the enzyme will have to deal with detoxifying more of those substances.
The Danger of Too Much Caffeine
The second reason you should limit your caffeine intake is because excess caffeine can actually create a magnesium deficiency.
Too much caffeine, which can result in less magnesium, can become a vicious cycle for your body.
The second DIY hack for speeding up a slow COMT for better sleep is to lower your intake of caffeine such as coffee or tea.
Personally, I love coffee and I love tea, but I always limit the amount I drink to one cup a day.
I make sure to finish that cup before 2 o'clock PM. If I go over that time, I know I'm gonna have a really hard time getting to bed that night.
And the third thing you can do to speed up a slow COMT enzyme for better sleep is to avoid plastics. This is when you're using plastics and you're consuming them inadvertently by storing food in plastic containers.
This problem becomes worse if the food in the container is hot or is acidic. These can leech the plastics into your food. When you eat the food, you end up also eating the plastic.
Another place to watch out for plastic exposure is bottled water. Not only is plastic bottled water bad for your body but it’s also really bad for the environment.
So investing in a glass jug that you can fill up and bring around will not only help limit your exposure to plastics, it also contributes to lessening our environmental impact on Mother Earth.
By using these three simple tips to speed up your slow COMT enzyme, you can sleep better, achieve better health, and enjoy better brain health overall.
No matter what the genetic cards that have been dealt for you in this game of life, you have the power to take charge of your destiny.
By empowering yourself with this information and by taking action, these three simple tips will help you get better sleep.
Follow my advice and you will be making a huge investment, not only in the quality of your sleep right now but also in your future health and your future self.
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Thanks so much for watching, my name is Dr. Titus Chiu and this has been The Modern Brain.