Sleep. Life is good when sleep is good. Everything sucks when sleep is bad.

I’ve been up for a few hours, since about 3:30am. Generally I sleep pretty good (pass out like a powered-down robot, sometimes in the middle of dinner), but it amazes me how quickly everything dominoes out of control when my sleep schedule is disrupted.

Much of this goes back to the liver. In Chinese medicine, 1-3am is the “Liver Time.” The body is said to have as part of its circadean rhythm twelve two-hour stages throughout the day, where different organ systems are more active. Physiologically this does happen in a variety of ways. Between 1-3am, the capillaries of the liver are supposed to crank open a little more to allow the extra blood not being used for basic functions to get soaked up into the liver. This is the prime time when the liver goes about catabolizing hormones and such, essentially telling whatever is being transported by the blood to go where it needs to go.

This is all assuming that the body and liver are in a stable state. When that system has a blip in it we tend to jolt awake between the hours of 1-3am. This could be from the liver being in a compromized state from gut dysbiosis, or eating a big fatty meal before bed, or having tiny blood clots perfused throughout the capillaries, or if the liver is tired from catabolizing high levels of cortisol, or many other reasons.

Or we could interrupt that system by staying up late, having a night of drinking, working a night job, or binge watching Grey’s Anatomy until sunrise. Then the liver doesn’t have a chance to do its job very effectively, and then hormones start building up in the blood, nitric oxide levels can spike, and we wake up groggy with dark circles under our eyes, feel less flexible, and have a killer headache behind the eyes. Over time this can seriously effect the body.

I know for fibromyalgia, sleep is the biggest pain in the ass in the world. It is disrupted or dysregulated in a myriad of ways, often leaving the fibro sufferer with the inability to maintain a career or enjoy family time because they are stuck awake at night and must sleep throughout the day to avoid crippling flare-ups of pain. There are several clues to what is going on depending on the quality and nature of the sleep disruption.

So what do you experience? Trouble getting to sleep? Waking up in the middle of the night at a specific time? Waking up throughout the night several times to urinate? Crashing at the same time in the middle of the day?

Let’s go through a few symptoms. Reply with a comment and I’ll go through yours as time allows. Ready, go!

4 thoughts on “Sleep

  1. I have trouble falling asleep, and if I do I don’t stay asleep for long if it’s too early (before 2) I definitely get up a lot to go to the bathroom, that seems half urge/half psychological. I know I have loads of micro-arousals and excessive daytime sleepiness. I don’t function before noon really. My most active brain states seem to be middle of the night.

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  2. The fatigue….EXHAUSTION… what I deal with most days, feeling as if I’ve just run a marathon (physically and mentally). I’ve recently been “sleeping” 12+ hours per night. I’ve been more “cognizant” of the number of times I wake up during the night, and it is more than I realized. It also feels that I never fall into a deep sleep. Perhaps the pain issues would not be as bad if I could sleep and have the energy to attend the Qi Gong classes on a more consistent basis? A sleep study is in the works as well.

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  3. I wake often due to pain and need to adjust my body to a less pain-filled position. I seem to go back to sleep quickly. Also, wake at 1:15 or 1:30 to urinate but suspect this to be liver related. In morning I wake exhausted so I suspect that I sleep lightly and never get restful sleep. One doc put me on Ametriptyline for sleep. I slept better (not consistently) but struggled with side effects and went off due to liver inflammation and discomfort. When I was on the meds I realized that I was constantly dreaming but prior had not been dreaming much.


    1. The dreaming may be related to how the body deals with blood at night. Betsween 1-3am the capillaries in the liver crank open as part of the circadean cycle, and the liver does much of the heavy work of metabolizing what is in the blood. When the liver is not in as great of health, or is busy (like if you were to eat a large meal before bed), the blood might not make it down there and the brain is left with extra blood, which can contribute to dream-filled sleep. Very interesting!


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