Insomnia means different things to different people. You have some of the more extreme cases where some people think that insomnia means that you literally cannot sleep, at all. While insomnia does include this, a total lack of sleep is a very extreme form of insomnia, and not the norm.
More regularly, there are two distinct forms of insomnia, which may occur simultaneously. One is the inability to fall asleep when properly tired; the other is when someone wakes up frequently during the night with no other reason besides the insomnia.
These each have different causes in the eyes of nutrition and Naturopathic doctors. Not being able to fall asleep is a key-deficiency of calcium. Now, by key-deficiency, I mean that the main deficiency is calcium, but that a deficiency in some of the cofactors with which calcium reacts can lead to a calcium deficiency. For example, magnesium and calcium are present in much of the same biochemical reactions in the body. These reactions need both calcium and magnesium, otherwise a person can develop a disease, or disorder. Therefore, it is important to give the body all essential nutrients on a regular basis, then to add additional nutrients for deficiency disorders, such as insomnia.
Now, the other form of insomnia, where someone continually wakes up throughout the night, is a blood sugar metabolism issue. This means that the person’s blood sugar levels are changing dramatically enough for that person to wake up from the change. This can occur even in people without Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, or Syndrome X.
The blood sugar metabolism is supported, or damaged, by a number of nutrients and foods. Commonly, eating a dessert, or other high-carbohydrate food, just before bed can cause these spikes. This even includes fruits! Foods and drinks with caffeine can similarly cause this complication. Therefore, it is important for people to eat plenty of protein with dinner to prevent rapid spikes in the blood sugar levels.