Bad Dreams and Bartonella...

Bad Dreams and Bartonella?


Many of my patients complain of significant sleep disturbances as a result of Lyme and other tickborne diseases. I find that Bartonella plays a key role in wreaking neurological havoc even more so than Lyme.

Bartonella is a slow growing, small, gram-negative, opportunist bacteria. It is thought to also behave much like a parasite and has an affinity for the neurological system.

Bartonella can be spread by multiple vectors such as fleas, ticks, sand flies and mosquitoes. Bartonella produces a multitude of symptoms. Shock-like and numbing pain experienced in the extremities, “restless leg syndrome”, sole pain, mood swings, cognitive dysfunction and striae (stretch marks) that wax and wane as well as significant neurological and psychological disturbances can occur in those afflicted with Bartonella. Most of my pediatric patients consequently suffer from a condition known as autoimmune encephalopathy as a result of Bartonella and other tickborne illnesses.

Patients describe vivid, bad dreams, insomnia, hallucinations that are auditory and visual in nature, along with anxiety, depression and obsessive- compulsive disorder.  Symptoms typically resolve or lessen with treatment.

So why the bad dreams and sleep disturbances?

Much like Borrelia Burgdorferi, the spirochete responsible for Lyme Disease, Bartonella can contribute to ventrolateral damage to the pre-optic area of the brain. This is known as the sleep center of the brain.

Inflammation and/ or damage to this area can contribute to circadian rhythm shifts causing insomnia, nightmares, blunted Delta sleep and REM disorders.

Delta sleep is that deep, restorative sleep. When in Delta sleep the body can reset. Immune function is supported, growth hormone is released to heal and repair the body.. Delta sleep occurs several times each night if sleeping patterns are regular.

Those afflicted with Delta sleep disturbances typically suffer from increased illnesses, adrenal dysfunction and have a higher incidence of anxiety and depression.

I suspect children infected with tickborne diseases such as Bartonella have slow growth as a result of the sleep disturbances associated and altered release of growth hormone.

To stave off sleep disturbances I recommend a ketogenic diet if tolerated or a low carb diet in general.  Also eating a protein snack before bed can maintain blood sugar levels preventing Delta wave suppression and improve sleep overall and of course seek out treatment from a Lyme literate provider!

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