As hormone specialists, we stress the importance of balanced hormones for your overall health. What many people don’t realize is just how important your hormones are in your day-to-day life. Your hormones essentially affect everything that your body does throughout the day and night. Even the slightest change in one of your hormone levels can throw you off beat. Sleep Awareness Week is March 14-20, 2021 and World Sleep Day celebrated on March 19, 2021. This is the perfect time to discuss sleep and your hormones.
Sleep Awareness Week
During Sleep Awareness Week, the World Sleep Association is promoting the idea of ‘Regular Sleep, Healthy Future’ to raise awareness for the benefits of getting regular sleep. The amount of sleep you get each night plays a huge role in the quality of your life. People who get regular sleep tend to be in a better mood and perform better with daily skills. Adults are recommended to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night so that they can wake up feeling their best. To have better, regular sleep, the World Sleep Association says to remember the two processes that regulate our sleep: Circadian regulation and homeostatic control (aka the two-process model of sleep.)
Your Circadian regulation is your internal clock which is regulated by our brain. Your internal clock regulates and controls your wake and sleep cycle over the day through the effect of light and melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that promotes the need for sleep in your body. In the evening, or when it’s darker, your body is able to produce melatonin and encourage sleep. When light is showing, the production of melatonin stops and encourages your body to wake up. This is one reason that it’s not encouraged to not watch television or be on your phone at night when you are trying to fall asleep; the light will stop the production of melatonin in your body.
Homeostatic control helps to promote sleep based on the previous amount of time that was spent awake. When we are awake, our body is producing substances that promote sleep so when we go to sleep our body is clearing those up so we feel more awake in the morning. This is why when you take a nap in the afternoon it can be harder for your body to get a good night’s sleep; you’ve disrupted your patterns making it harder to fall asleep. Your homeostatic control is another reason doctors encourage you to get the same amount of sleep each night and around the same time; it will help to synchronize your internal clock and promote better sleep.
Ways to Sleep Better
As stated above, it’s extremely important to synchronize your internal clock so that you can get the best sleep. That isn’t the only factor though when it comes to a good night’s rest. Here are some recommendations from the World Sleep Society and Dr. Riegel:
- Have a fixed bedtime/awake time
- Try not to nap, but if you do it should be 45 minutes or less
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime; coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake 4 hours before bedtime
- Avoid spicy, sugary, or heavy foods 4 hours before bed
- No smoking before bed
- Exercise regularly, not right before bed
- Sleep comfortably; bedding, temperature, etc.
- Check your hormones
- Block out distracting noises/light
Hormones and Sleep
While there are many things that can affect your sleep such as your environment, stress, and medication, there are other things that play a role, such as your hormones. Melatonin plays a large role in the quality of your sleep, but it isn’t the only hormone that does. Cortisol is another hormone that contributes to sleep. It tells your body when it should be awake and moving, so it should be more active during the day. Another hormone that plays a role is your thyroid. There is hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, and both contribute to your sleep. If your thyroid gland is producing too much, it is called hyperthyroidism and can make it hard for your body to ever get into a relaxed state of mind, which then makes it harder to fall asleep. Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones which will make your body feel more tired than it might truly be. This can cause you to feel more tired throughout your day even after getting seven to nine hours of sleep. For women, one other important reason for a disruption in sleep is menopause and perimenopause and the constant changes a woman’s body is going through at that time.
Melatonin is converted to the neurotransmitter Serotonin in the brain. That’s why melatonin has long been recommended as a sleep induction agent. Recent research shows that naturally occurring Serotonin levels decrease with Estradiol and Testosterone levels. This is why seventeen-year-olds sleep great and wake up ready to take on the world and people over 40 sleep less and are less well-rested as they age. The reverse is true, as well. When your hormones are replaced to the levels of your youth, the first thing you notice when they take effect is you sleep deeply, all night, and wake up with a ton of energy and a brighter disposition.
Designer Hormone Replacement Therapy
With the use of hormone replacement therapy, you can balance out your hormones and start to notice improved sleep quality and start to have more regular sleep. Since there are so many hormones that play key roles in your sleep, it’s crucial to know the root of the issue. At The Riegel Center, we will do an initial consultation with you to discuss your concerns. Once we have done that, we will schedule blood work for you so that we can find out just which hormones are imbalanced. From there, Dr. Riegel will create a personalized plan of care for you based on your hormone levels. We will regularly monitor your hormones and make changes as needed. For more information on designer bioidentical hormone therapy, please visit our website or give us a call today. Raise awareness for Sleep Awareness Week by sharing this article!