Inside Scoop: Get some insight into the hormones that affect sleep and what you can do to get some good zzz time.
This post was submitted by Sarah Cummings, passionate about healthy eating and an advocate for promoting good sleep.
There are an array of issues and factors that can affect your sleep and cause the onset of insomnia from work stress and family worries to regular travel and a lack of routine. Being unable to sleep once in a while may be nothing to worry about, but if it’s been going on for some time you may want to speak to your doctor. One of the standout problems that doctors and experts in the field may find is that hormonal imbalances can often be at fault for the disruption in sleep.
Hormone imbalances are a bit of a sticky wicket though, because they essentially form a vicious cycle which is regularly set off through other underlying issues. As such, they’re made worse when sleep is lost and those very same issues become heightened. It can seem like there’s no escape.
If you feel that you’re suffering from a hormone imbalance and your sleep has lost its quality as a result, then it’s best to visit your doctor. One of the first things they’ll probably do is check the adrenal glands, where the hormones adrenaline, cortisol and DHEA are all produced. They’ll also likely evaluate your overall health, lifestyle and stress levels that can also have a big impact on your nervous system and sleep cycle.
Low-quality, reduced sleep coupled with hormone imbalances can have profound implications on your day to day and your health including a weaker immune system, reduced memory and concentration, and a higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
So, here are the most common hormone imbalances that you could be enduring which might be drawing you away from healthy slumber.
HORMONES THAT AFFECT SLEEP
Your DHEA is low
Among other things, your DHEA (or DeHydroEpiAndrosterone) is responsible for building bones and muscles. It is an adrenal hormone, and therefore DHEA acts as an androgen, so it will decline naturally as part of the ageing process. It also lessens during periods of stress.
If your DHEA is low it can be linked to muscle weakness. One of the main concerns with this is that if your pelvic floor is weakened, it can lead to multiple trips to the loo in the night, which will, of course, disturb your sound slumber.
If you know this to be the case or if you wake up too often at night, then make sure to avoid drinking too many liquids just before bed. You can also boost DHEA by getting regular exercise, getting out in the sun and reducing stress.
Your cortisol is high
Cortisol is your very own pre-built-in alarm system. This is your body’s chief stress hormone. It works to control your fears, moods and motivation levels. But if you’re in a constant “fight or flight” state this can affect the balance of all your other hormones as well as lead to spikes in your blood sugar levels which can be a trigger for restlessness and inability to sleep.
A go-to option for staying on top of your cortisol is to contain stress. This can be achieved through physical activity, or by finding something that makes you feel naturally more at ease, such as listening to music, painting, or gardening, for example.
Your cortisol is low
As with most things, it’s all about the balance. On the other side of the coin, if your cortisol levels aren’t at the minimum required level to function effectively, you won’t have enough for it to work as an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving hormone.
Essentially, what happens is your adrenal glands fail to work successfully, there isn’t sufficient cortisol to keep inflammation in check and your sleep will also be affected.
Your melatonin is low
This hormone is essential in the sleep process; it’s often called the “sleep hormone” as it assists in the regulation of other hormones and helps with your natural body clock. Your circadian rhythm is something all of us possess and it basically governs when you go to sleep and wake up.
Lots of things can interfere with your melatonin levels, but one big blocker at present is the blue light emitted from smart devices, so it’s best that you leave your phone, tablet, laptop, TV, etc. alone at least an hour or two before you go to bed to prevent this from occurring.
Your thyroid is under or overactive
The little butterfly shaped gland or your thyroid has an effect on every cell in your entire body. So, as this includes your brain’s receptors for serotonin; a sleep-affecting chemical, if the thyroid is excessively active this causes feelings of anxiousness and jitters, along with sleep deprivation.
On the other hand, when it’s low, you’ll feel low, run down and sluggish. What’s more, depressed feelings are known to cause sleeplessness. Therefore, whether your thyroid is over or under-firing it can unsettle your sleep.
Your testosterone is low
There’s an association between low testosterone and sleep apnea for women and men alike. Sleep apnea acts to cut down REM sleep time which in turn causes low testosterone and this then acts to bring about more sleep apnea.
Vitamin D, exercise, protein and high-quality sleep are all remedies for low testosterone.
You have high androgen levels
Conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) characterized by excess androgens, is linked to sleep apnea and sleep disturbances. What’s interesting to note here is that high insulin levels or insulin resistance is a key issue.
Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet, low on the glycemic index and high in healthy fats and protein is key in managing the condition and getting your sleep back on track.
There you have it, this is a short overview of some of the main hormones that affect sleep. Ultimately, when one hormone is out of balance, it will most likely cause an imbalance in other areas of the body.
In the end it’s all about creating balance, eating more whole foods, reducing sugar, getting plenty of exercise and natural sunlight and avoiding electronics that overstimulate the brain before sleep.
You can also try adding supplements like CALM magnesium and establishing a nightly routine to help you get rich levels of sleep. Check out more tips on how to sleep through the night here.
Exercise is one of the best ways to regulate hormones as well as ensure you get a good night’s sleep. You can download this 5-Day DIY HIIT Program below that you can do anywhere.
Hi! My name’s Sarah Cummings. I’ve been involved in writing informative and helpful guides for the last five years now. Originally, my passion to help others was the overriding factor to become a writer, but now I feel like I’m learning more every day too!
My love of exercise has always been a big part of how I lead my life, and I find it helps with lots of things, including sleep. I’m an advocator of promoting sleep and how it can be the difference between living a good, fulfilled life and an unhappy one.
I have had the good fortune to have a long and spiritual background in yoga too, and I feel as though this pairs perfectly with my passion for healthy eating and leading an active lifestyle.