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Top Labs to Run Bi-Annually on Your Patients Experiencing Sleep Disorders

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Top Labs to Run Bi-Annually on Your Patients Experiencing Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders impact 50 to 70 million Americans, and sleep deprivation is not only prevalent, it comes with severe health consequences. Going just 17 hours without sleep causes cognitive impairments equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%, the drunk driving level in certain countries. Getting less than 5 hours of sleep each night more than doubles the risk for heart attack and diabetes.

It’s imperative that sleep disorders are identified and recognized so that steps can be taken to remedy the situation. Adequate amounts and quality of sleep are essential for optimal health. This article will provide an overview of common sleep disorders and laboratory testing to consider for people suffering from these disorders.  


Overview of Sleep Disorders

There are over 80 known sleep disorders, which generally fall into six main categories. These categories include insomnia, sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), central disorders of hypersomnolence, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders (CRSD), parasomnias, and sleep-related movement disorders. 

This extensive collection of sleep disorders causes significant disruptions to daily life. More than 40% of adults report falling asleep during the day at least once a month, and more concerning is that people with sleep apnea are six times more likely to die in a car accident due to fatigue and lapses in concentration. Getting less than 5 hours of sleep each night skyrockets your risk of heart attack and diabetes, and sleep deprivation is associated with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, can have dire consequences. 

Sleep is non-negotiable for neurological, immune, endocrine, cardiovascular, and metabolic health. Your body needs it to maintain optimal health and well-being. When your quantity or quality of sleep suffers, you notice it in how you feel. That’s why working with an integrative medicine provider is so important to monitor your health and identify issues with this vital body function that keeps you healthy. 

Importance Of Regular Laboratory Testing For Patients With Sleep Disorders

Regular lab testing is imperative to identify and monitor health factors contributing to poor sleep and sleep disorders. People with sleep deprivation are often unaware that it impacts their cognitive function, performance, or overall health. Testing provides the data that indicates to what level sleep deprivation is disrupting a person’s health and vice versa. 

Top Labs to Run Bi-Annually on Your Patients Experiencing Sleep Disorders

When patients are suffering from sleep disorders, it’s imperative to monitor basic health parameters regularly. Comprehensive foundational lab testing, including a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) and complete blood count (CBC) with differential and platelets, will provide information about general immune and metabolic health, which will indicate whether sleep deprivation has begun to take its toll on the immune system or blood glucose regulation.

Cardio-Metabolic Testing

To further evaluate metabolic health and blood glucose regulation, insulin and HbA1c provide valuable information. Insulin resistance develops before diabetes, and HbA1c is a blood test that shows average blood glucose levels over a 2 to 3-month timeframe. Since sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance and lead to diabetes, running these markers helps identify whether lifestyle measures need to be taken to prevent diabetes from developing. 

Sleep deprivation can increase cardiovascular risk, so tests that evaluate cardiovascular health are necessary to monitor when sleep is a problem. A lipid panel and a hs-CRP test will provide information about total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and cardiovascular inflammation to determine cardiovascular risk.  


Assessing the health of the nervous system with a neurotransmitter test provides information about neurological health. An imbalance in neurotransmitter production indicates when something is negatively impacting the health of the nervous system. Sleep can significantly influence neurological function; on the flip side, neurotransmitter imbalances can affect sleep. Neurotransmitter tests provide a way to monitor whether this system contributes to sleep disturbances or vice versa. 

Hormone Testing

Hormones play an integral role in our sleep-wake cycles. Cortisol and melatonin are two hormones that help regulate our circadian rhythm. Cortisol peaks in the morning as a wakening signal, during which time melatonin is lowest, and melatonin rises in the evening as a sleep signal, during which time cortisol is lowest. 

The morning cortisol peak is also called the cortisol awakening response (CAR), and it can be measured with a saliva test as a way to assess the circadian rhythm and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the body’s neuroendocrine stress response mechanism.

The DUTCH Plus test is a saliva and urine test that measures cortisol output throughout the day, as well as the CAR, an option for measuring cortisol at night in those with insomnia, melatonin levels, and levels of the sex hormones. This test provides a comprehensive hormonal assessment that can indicate whether hormones are contributing to sleep disruptions and, if so, which ones. It also offers markers for key neurotransmitters, whether gut dysbiosis is present, and markers of essential micronutrients. This comprehensive picture can prove extremely helpful in identifying where to focus clinical attention.

Underactive thyroid function can contribute to weight gain and airway tissue swelling, leading to sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease. An overactive thyroid can contribute to sleep disturbances as well. A thyroid panel is a blood test that provides information about thyroid hormones and antibodies to detect thyroid function imbalances that may contribute to sleep issues.

Micronutrient Testing

Our bodies need various nutrients for quality sleep and optimal health. Sleep duration is positively associated with iron, zinc, and magnesium and negatively associated with copper, potassium, and vitamin B12. Measuring these nutrients, therefore, serves an essential purpose in determining which nutrients may contribute to sleep disturbances.

A Micronutrients Test is a blood test that measures vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids to assess overall nutritional status. This allows practitioners to provide individualized and targeted therapies to address micronutrient imbalances contributing to sleep disruption. 

Vitamin D is a micronutrient dependent on sunlight exposure and therefore linked to the body’s circadian patterns. Studies show that supplementing with vitamin D positively impacts sleep, so measuring this micronutrient is vital for assessing and monitoring status. 

Allergy Testing

Environmental allergies and food sensitivities can contribute to and exacerbate sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Food allergy tests are blood tests that help identify which foods are problematic so treatments are targeted and effective. Blood testing can also identify environmental allergens to uncover which allergens are causing problems.

Comprehensive Stool Test

The gut microbiome plays a significant role in health and well-being, and preliminary evidence indicates that imbalances in the microbiome, called dysbiosis, contribute to circadian misalignment and sleep disruption. A comprehensive stool test evaluates the functional health of the gastrointestinal system to determine whether disturbances in this system contribute to sleep disorders. A stool test will measure markers of digestion, absorption, inflammation, immune function, and microbiome balance to assess gastrointestinal health comprehensively. 

Sleep Study

A sleep study, or polysomnography, is considered the gold standard evaluation method for sleep disorders. This is an overnight test in which a person is monitored with diagnostic sensors to detect brain waves, oxygen levels, heart rate, respiratory rate (breathing rate), and eye and leg movements. These tests are often done in a hospital or sleep center but can also sometimes be done at home. 

These tests measure your sleep cycles and stages and show when and why your sleep patterns are disrupted. Polysomnography helps identify whether sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or other sleep disorders are present and to what extent a person’s sleep is disrupted.



Sleep disorders represent a significant problem for health and well-being. Disruptions in this vital health function can lead to serious health consequences that significantly impair the quality of daily life. 

Uncovering the root cause of sleep disorders and monitoring for treatment effectiveness is imperative to give our bodies access to the potent healing activity that quality sleep provides. The laboratory tests discussed in this article provide an overview of which tests can help identify these root causes and monitor for progress.

If you suspect you suffer from a sleep disorder, talk to your integrative medicine practitioner about which laboratory tests may be most helpful in getting to the bottom of your sleep issues.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
Learn More

Lab Tests in This Article

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