In my last post, I talked about different ways of creating a sleep ritual and why getting enough sleep is important.
There are times when doing simple things isn’t quite so simple and you still aren’t able to get the rest your body so desperately needs. In this post I’m going to dive into a few other things that could be preventing you from getting enough rest.
We have hormones that go through our body and tell our system to do all sorts of different things and when those hormones go ‘wonky’ our sleep is the price we pay.
Are Hormones keeping you awake?
There are a number of hormones that could be preventing you from getting the sleep you so desperately need to make it through your day being bright eyed and bushy tailed, not to mention to recover from all the stresses we put on ourselves day to day.
Thyroid issues seem to be one of the most common hormone issues that I have to take into consideration with my clients. Do you have kids? Are you over 35? If you answered yes, you probably already deal with sleep issues to some degree.
When you’ve got little ones there is a high possibility that you are dealing with adrenaline and cortisol disrupting your sleep patterns but there is also the thyroid.
Women are more likely to develop hypo-thyroidism which is having an underactive thyroid gland and/or hyper-thyroidism which is an overactive thyroid gland.
Low thyroid is when your body is slowing down many different body processes. Think of it as a slow metabolism. You will feel more tired, possibly feel weak, will have a lack of energy to complete anything, and one of the most common ones is getting to sleep or even just staying asleep. Unfortunately, a side effect of taking medication for thyroid is insomnia.
On the flip side, an overactive thyroid will do just the opposite. You will be restless, possibly have anxiety and feel like you always need to be doing something.
Adrenaline and Cortisol
When our system is balanced, these hormones are higher at the right times like first thing in the morning to wake you up and lower at other times like when we’re trying to relax in the evening. But if you are under stress on a daily basis, these hormones can become out of sync with your regular sleep cycle, being higher in the evening and lower during the day and can keep you awake.
If you are having a hard time going to sleep, your cortisol could be too high in the evening which can make your cortisol too low when you should be sleeping. If your cortisol is too low in the mornings, then adrenaline is what is going to be giving you the 4 a.m. wakeup call.
Menopause – Estrogen and Progesterone
As we age, our hormones can become out of balance. You could be experiencing fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone as early as your late 30’s and early 40’s.
As we age, our ovaries slow down the production of estrogen. Are you are experiencing night sweats or hot flashes, waking in the middle of the night, or finding that you can’t get to sleep?
If progesterone is too low, it can also cause sleep disruptions. Low levels of progesterone in your body can cause your thyroid to become underactive. Signs of low progesterone can include weight gain, decreased sex drive, mood swings, depression, PMS, or irregular menstrual cycle.
Just like with other hormones, stress, poor nutrition, and excess body weight can make all these symptoms seem worse.
Okay, so now what?
The good news is there are things you can do if you are struggling with hormonal issues.
Make sure you’re getting enough fiber and slow-digesting smart carbs. Don’t be tempted to drop your carbs in hopes of losing weight because carbs help with your proper hormone production and tell your body that you’ve had enough to eat.
Eat regularly throughout the day. It will keep you fuller longer and you won’t have a chance to have your blood sugars drop. Ideally, you should be eating every 3 to 4 hours.
Make sure you’re getting outside and getting some sunlight. We have a tendency to spend way too much time inside and our internal Circadian Rhythm can be thrown off.
Make sure to exercise and to have a balance of low-intensity exercise like a leisurely bike ride, walk, or yoga session along with more intense training workouts.
Not everyone has a hormone imbalance that could be causing them not to be able to sleep. But if you have done all you can to remove stress, you’ve created a sleep ritual, removed caffeine beverages and you are still having problems sleeping, don’t rule out hormones as a contributing factor and seek medical assistance.
Our bodies are fine-tuned machines. I recommend before you look to medications, or alongside your current medications, see what you can do to balance out your hormones naturally by eating well and moving your body regularly.
Develop a sleep ritual – it never ceases to amaze me how changing a few things can make a difference and how well you’re able to fall asleep.
Still need a little help?
Below is a list of supplements that may be able to help you when you can’t sleep. Remember, only take the supplement when you need it and check with your doctor if you are currently taking other medications.
- Phosphatidylserine: If you have high evening cortisol which shows up around 9 or 10 p.m., take 200–300 milligrams twice per day: once at dinner and once before bed.
- Magnesium: 300–500 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed. If you are supplementing with calcium this may be the solution for you. Women, in particular, are magnesium deficient. are you prone to leg cramps or grinding your teeth? Magnesium is great for helping you to relax and stop muscle spasms. My favorite way of getting magnesium is through a nice relaxing epsom salt bath.
- Relora: Take as directed before bed. Relora is a combination of Magnolia Officinalis and Phellodendron Amurensehas and has been formulated to promote relaxation and calmness.
- Uber-Inositol: Take as directed. It is a mixture of inositol and magnesium glycinate. It is excellent for managing stress and fighting anxiety. Inositol is a form of sugar found in certain foods. It has been classified as a member of the Vitamin B complex and is often referred to as B8, but it is not technically a vitamin.
- 5-HTP: 100 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed. 5-HTP is also known as oxitriptan, is a naturally occurring amino acid and is a precursor in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- GABA: 400–600 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed. GABA is an amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter — it quiets brain activity down, reduces anxiety, and helps relax muscles.
- L-theanine: Take as directed, 30–60 minutes before bed. This is found in green tea and it has a relaxing calming effect. This is also safe to combine with 5-HTP but keep it at a low dose.
- Melatonin: 5 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed. Don’t use for more than 2–3 days in a row. If your internal clock is off or you travel regularly this is a great supplement to reset your body.
- Sleep+: Take as directed, 30–60 minutes before bed. Genuine Health’s Sleep+ is a combination herbal formula that includes hops, skullcap, passionflower, and lemon balm.
Sleep and the importance of getting enough, unfortunately, is highly overlooked. Making sure that you get enough sleep will change how your entire body functions, recovers and, in turn, how you think or perceive the world around you. Creating a sleep routine will take time and some experimentation. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else, but make sure you give your body time to adjust.
There is so much involved with losing weight and getting healthy. It’s not just about eating the right foods in the right amounts and exercising a certain way for a period of time; it is about paying attention to our bodies and mind as a whole. If you have found that you are still not reaching your goals and you think that you’re doing everything right, reach out and let’s connect. I can help you figure out what is holding you back.
Read more about sleep: Why is Sleep so Darn Important Anyway?