Sleep is a gift in my opinion, and if you're like me, you probably don't realize how much your hormones affect your sleep habits, until you've missed out on some quality shut eye! During puberty, premenopause, menopause, and post-menopause, sleep usually changes due to fluctuations in our hormones. Whether our estrogen levels are too low or high, or we're super stressed, our sleep patterns can change quicker than a fashion model backstage at a runway show! I know, because I’ve been there, more than once or twice with my hormones affecting my sleep, far beyond just a little tossing and turning. Check out these crazy ways your hormones affect your sleep habits, so you can get the beauty sleep your body wants, needs and craves to be your most gorgeous, healthy self!
1. Your Ovaries Are Slowing down
During menopause, when the female body starts to enter its final hormone cycle, one of the most obvious ways hormones affect your sleep habits is they cause you to suffer insomnia. This is due to your ovaries slowing down in the production of two very important hormones, known as estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone is a form of estrogen that promotes sleep, but when estrogen or progresterone levels drop, you may find yourself waking up often, or not falling asleep as easily. Lowering your caffeine intake, as well as getting enough exercise, have been effective methods at battling excess adrenaline in the body that can cause this to happen. If you’re already drinking caffeine-free beverages and exercising, then you may want to consider taking a melatonin supplement, or natural sleep aid to help you get more rest. Melatonin is a hormone in our body that regulates sleep, and it can get off balance when we got through certain life changes. An over the counter melatonin supplement can be a safe, short-term way to get it back on track, without having to take medication.
2. Your Cortisol Levels Are Too High
The stress hormone known as cortisol is responsible for creating that “flight or fight” tendency that we’re supposed to obtain only in necessary, emergency situations. However, if your hormones are off balance, and particularly, your insulin levels are high, then your cortisol levels will also be chronically high. This leads to an inability to sleep, as well as adrenal fatigue, which may have you feeling tired all day, yet not sleeping well at night. You can see how this become a vicious cycle quickly, which is why lowering your insulin levels by balancing your blood sugar, is very important to reducing cortisol. An exercise program is also needed to balance cortisol and maintain optimum insulin levels. By lowering your blood sugar levels, your cortisol output is reduced, which helps to regulate your sleep and ability to fall and stay asleep longer.
3. Your Ghrelin and Leptin Levels Are off Balance
Sleep and appetite are intimately related. One can not be balanced without the other achieving balance. Our hunger hormones are known as ghrelin and leptin. They control how hungry we are, how often we are hungry, and how soon we feel full. These hormones are optimally produced through a sufficient night of rest, which is why people who are short on sleep, will often be hungrier the next day, or eat more than normal at each mealtime. Not enough production of these hormones will lead to repetitive sleep issues, and repetitive hunger issues. To be sure to balance these hormones out, be sure to get a good night’s rest. In order to get a good night’s rest, eat a very well-balanced diet. Try to have a protein-rich snack high in the amino acid tryptophan, that is also high in calcium at night before bed. Good options include plain, nonfat yogurt, a glass of almond or soy milk, a sweet potato, small handful of almonds with fruit, or have leafy greens at dinner with a lean source of protein.
4. Your Thyroid is off Track
It is amazing to me how much a small gland in the back of your neck, known as the thyroid gland, controls your metabolism, sleep and weight. The thyroid converts energy into fuel to regulate metabolism and sleep Depending on how our thyroid is functioning, we can either feel amazing and have tons of energy, or we can be chronically tired. . When we have the right mix of both thyroid hormones known as T3 and T4, we will get just enough sleep in the amount our bodies need, with plenty of energy to get us through an active day. An imbalance of either hormone will either cause insomnia, or make it hard to roll out of bed in the morning, even after 10 hours of rest. If you have low thyroid levels, you’ll be very tired, weak, and usually constipated as well. You may even suffer weight gain. If your thyroid is overactive, you may find it difficult to sleep, be losing weight, have anxious energy all day, and may start losing weight, despite a healthy diet. To balance out your thyroid, be sure to see a doctor, and also eat a thyroid-supportive diet. You can find out more about the best diet for your thyroid at: nourishedkitchen.com.
5. Your Menstrual Cycle Has Stopped
If your menstrual cycle has stopped, and you’re not old enough for menopause, then see a doctor to determine what changes have caused the disruption. Anytime the body isn’t menstruating, your sleep will suffer big time. Usually, a year after menopause has started, and the body has been without a menstrual period without at least one year, then sleep will start to balance itself out again, allowing you to achieve a deep sleep. However, if you find yourself skipping periods and aren’t old enough for menopause, see a doctor. Stress could be the issue, or a nutritional deficiency. Abnormal periods and abnormal sleep are almost always related, so don't ignore these crucial signs that something is out of balance. See a doctor as soon as you can.
6. You’re Depressed
Did you know that a hormonal imbalance could be the cause of your depression and lack of sleep? Most women who suffer depression are chronically low in estrogen. Many times, progesterone is the primary hormone most women are short of, and the best thing to do to combat this detrimental, pesky issue, is to see a specialist who can help you balance our your hormones either naturally, or with hormone-free treatments, like medication. Antidepressants don’t always help the issue at core, which is many times, a simple hormonal imbalance.
7. You’re Always Cranky
A lack of sleep and a hormonal imbalance almost always leads to a cranky lady! If you’re a little more snippy than normal, or if everything just sets you off, consider that your hormones may be the cause. A lack of sleep makes anyone ill, but if you’re noticing it happens more often than usual, and you’re increasingly moody, it is probably your hormones to blame. Get to your OBGYN and see what you can do to get back to your beauty rest and your happier self.
If you’re suffering from hormonal imbalance, bad sleep, and/or depression, don’t feel hopeless or bad about yourself. Hormones are nothing more than chemistry, and if you’re like me, they can make you feel like a disastrous chemistry project more than a person at times. The good thing is, our hormones are also good to us when we treat them well, which makes balancing them out pretty simple. Have you ever suffered any of these hormonal issues? What helped you correct the issue?