Sleep is essential to good health. It is a time of repair and restoration for the body. Anything less than 6 hours of uninterrupted rest each night is considered sleep deprivation. Insomnia can be a regular or intermittent problem. For some it is difficult to get to sleep and others find themselves waking at night and being unable to go back to sleep. Many have a combination of these two problems, which is additionally stressful. Short term symptoms include forgetfulness, lethargy, and irritability. Over long periods of time the detrimental effects can be severe, causing permanent loss of memory cells in the brain, chronic fatigue, anxiety, a decrease in bone mineral density, depression, headaches, increased insulin resistance (a precursor to Type II Diabetes), heart disease, hormonal imbalance, decreased libido, and weight gain. There are varied reasons for insomnia. Commonly, it is a result of an imbalance of one or more neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, in the brain. Balancing these neurotransmitters typically results in returning to good sleep patterns. Due to the overlapping nature of many of these brain chemicals, it is necessary to clearly identify your specific sleep issues. The following flow chart will help to determine where your deficiencies may be.