Sleep is one constant throughout our lives–a restorative time we count on each day to rest our body and quiet our mind. When sleep is disrupted, it can throw off our day. And when sleepless nights pile up, the cumulative losses can have widespread effects on your physical and emotional health.
One of the variables that can affect our sleep is our hormones. These powerful chemical messengers can have a direct influence or may cause symptoms that interfere with our sleep. If you are one of the many asking, “Why can’t I sleep?” it can be helpful to understand the role hormones can play in our sleepless nights.
The Reciprocal Relationship of Hormones and Sleep
Sleep is affected by many body processes, and it, in turn, may have a reciprocal impact. Lack of sleep can affect mood, memory, and concentration, negatively impact the immune system, raise blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, and cause gain weight. When sleep is disrupted, there is often a hormonal cause—at least in part.
Some of the most important hormones affecting our ability to fall and stay asleep include:
Cortisol and melatonin act in opposition to regulate our sleep cycle. Cortisol levels rise overnight to peak in the morning, then drop throughout the day until darkness triggers the release of melatonin to guide us to sleep. This cycle can be thrown off when chronic stress keeps cortisol levels high or when light and darkness are experienced in opposition to your body’s expected pattern (shift workers often experience this). Lifestyle changes and supports may help to compensate and correct for these irregularities.
Both too much and too little thyroid hormone can have significant implications for sleep. As described in one study: “Hypothyroidism results in poor sleep quality and architecture, whereas hyperthyroidism adversely impacts sleep by reducing sleep efficiency and duration, and increasing sleep latency.” Since the thyroid gland is responsible for many crucial metabolic and life-sustaining processes, diagnosing and correcting a thyroid imbalance can have a positive effect on many physiological functions, including sleep.
Estrogen and Progesterone
Estrogen and progesterone have the potential to impact sleep during several stages of life. From the time menstruation begins, the monthly fluctuation of hormones may disrupt sleep at various points in the cycle. During pregnancy, the hormonal changes that support the growing fetus can also significantly affect sleep.
The greatest risk of hormone-related sleep disruption, however, typically occurs during perimenopause and menopause, as hormone levels can fluctuate wildly and drop sharply. While this may cause primary sleep disturbances, symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats can also disrupt sleep. Additionally, the risk of sleep apnea increases during menopause. Hormone replacement therapy may help rebalance hormone levels and eliminate symptoms that compromise sleep during perimenopause and menopause.
A study conducted by Dr. Eve Van Cauter at the University of Chicago followed healthy young men whose sleep was limited to five hours in the sleep lab. A 10-15% drop was noted in their testosterone levels afterward, with the participants reporting a decline in their sense of wellbeing, mood, and vigor. Van Cauter noted, “As research progresses, low sleep duration and poor sleep quality are increasingly recognized as endocrine disruptors.” This research illuminates the reciprocal effect that sleep and hormones may have on the other.
Why Can’t I Sleep? Find the Answer
If sleepless nights are taking a toll on your wellbeing and productivity, it’s time to discover what is keeping you up at night. Determining whether hormones are playing a role in your sleeplessness has now been made easier, thanks to telehealth visits with hormone health specialists and in-home diagnostic testing. From the comfort of your home, you can receive expert guidance that helps you get to the bottom of your insomnia and puts you one step closer to a real solution.
Through a virtual visit with a knowledgeable practitioner, you can begin to uncover the factors that may be affecting your sleep. If a hormonal origin is confirmed through at-home hormone testing, hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed to address any imbalances. With home delivery of hormone treatments and follow-up monitoring to help you with your symptoms, you may be on the road to lasting relief.
If you are tired of asking yourself why can’t I sleep, it is time to get some answers. With telehealth, expert insight has never been closer.
If you are struggling with sleep disruptions, BodyLogicMD wants to help. The expert practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network can assess your needs and try to design a personalized BalancePro plan to help you achieve your health goals—from virtually anywhere. Set up your telehealth consultation, or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to learn more about how hormones may be affecting your everyday life.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.