Functional Testing to Fix Your Sleep
Do you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep?
Have you tried everything but still can't get a good night's rest? If so, you may benefit from using functional testing.
As a holistic sleep coach, I support my clients in using functional testing to evaluate how different systems in the body are working. Functional tests help identify potential areas of dysfunction that may be contributing to sleep problems.
In this post, I'll explain what functional testing is, how it differs from traditional lab tests, and how it can help you improve your sleep. I will also look into a few tests in more detail that I recommend you look into if you struggle with insomnia, low energy or burnout.
What is Functional Testing?
Functional testing is a valuable tool for identifying underlying imbalances contributing to health problems. It evaluates how different systems in the body are functioning and identifies potential areas of dysfunction - often before a state of dis-ease is present.
You might go to your doctor presenting with symptoms - and these are often 'warning' lights your body is giving you to get attention. Like the oil change lamp that goes off on your car.
Functional testing can look into markers that correlate with your symptoms long before they turn into a health issue.
By using functional testing, practitioners can develop personalized plans to address underlying imbalances contributing to health problems.
How does Functional Testing Differ from Traditional Lab Tests?
Lab tests that your doctor runs are meant to diagnose you with a disease.
Diagnostic labs are based on wide reference ranges that don't consider the optimal levels of a given marker. Traditional lab tests may miss imbalances that are still in their early stages and can prevent diseases from occurring in the first place.
In contrast, functional testing is there to help us understand the function of your body. It looks at the optimal levels of a given marker, not just what is "normal" for the population. With functional testing, we can detect imbalances early and prevent them from becoming problematic.
The benefit of functional testing is that you can find imbalances early on and before they become a bigger problem. And often, these imbalances that a doctor will not look for or address cause issues in the body - insomnia and fatigue being very high on the list.
Functional Labs for Sleep Issues
If you have followed this page for a while, you know that my understanding of the causes of insomnia are often physical imbalances that have an effect on the body & the mind and that all need to be addressed together.
And while you might have been to the doctor and the doctor told you "everything is normal" and "you have to manage your stress better" and you might think spending money on functional testing will be a waste of money, keep reading.
The main 3 tests that I would recommend to run if you suffer with sleep issues are:
1. A stool test (GI Map test by Diagnostic Solutions)
This will show you what is going on with your gut flora. You might have pathogenic bacteria, an overgrowth of bad bacteria or issues digesting proteins or fats. All these imbalances can disrupt your sleep either by increasing the release of cortisol to fit inflammation, by putting a burden on your liver or by not providing enough nutrients to build neurotransmitters that are required for wellbeing.
2. Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH by Precision Analytics)
Another example of functional testing for sleep issues is the DUTCH hormone test, which measures your sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) as well as your cortisol and melatonin. It also gives us some insights into your liver's ability to deal with hormone detoxification and some of your neurotransmitter levels.
Hormone imbalances, such as low levels of progesterone or high levels of cortisol at night, can interfere with the sleep-wake cycle and lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep.
3. Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)
Similarly, a hair tissue mineral analysis identifies nutrient imbalances and toxic exposures, which can play a role in sleep issues.
Nutrient imbalances, such as low levels of magnesium or zinc, can contribute to sleep issues by disrupting neurotransmitter function. Also, your body's ability to use magnesium or calcium can impact sleep.
Functional Testing for Personalized Protocols
Functional testing provides a clear roadmap and actionable steps to improve sleep, health & well-being.
With functional testing, you will never hear, "Everything looks normal, so just keep trying and waiting" because that is never the case.
By identifying underlying imbalances that contribute to health problems, functional testing helps practitioners develop personalized treatment plans to address them.
In the case of sleep issues, functional testing can help identify imbalances in gut health, hormone health, mineral balance, and toxin exposure that often contribute to sleep problems.
These test results will then be looked at in combination with the symptoms you have to see how these correlate, and what needs to be addressed first.
Functional testing is the future of medicine.
It's about looking at the whole person and not just treating symptoms. It is a valuable tool for identifying underlying imbalances contributing to health problems, including sleep issues and can help practitioners develop personalized health plans to address underlying imbalances and help you get a good night's rest.
With that said, I do want to emphasize the importance of addressing diet and lifestyle changes as part of functional diagnostic solutions. Food sensitivities, stress management, and sleep habits can all play a crucial role in achieving optimal health and great sleep.
So, if you're struggling with sleep or energy issues, consider exploring functional tests and making necessary changes to your lifestyle. Your body will thank you.