How your thyroid is affecting your sleep
Are you feeling tired but wired, or excessively fatigued despite getting extra hours of sleep?
Even with normal thyroid hormone ranges in conventional labs, your thyroid may still be functioning at a suboptimal level – and in turn be affecting your Zs and quality of life. As the thyroid is a small gland involved in many important metabolic processes, it influences energy and temperature, which are both integral for sleep sufficiency. An overactive thyroid can interfere with sleep quality as there is a cortisol and temperature dysregulation, this results in the internal core temperature being elevated, which in part causes the associated insomnia. Other symptoms of overactivity are weight loss, diarrhea, heart palpitations and anxiety. Contrarily (and more commonly), if your thyroid is under-active, hypersomnia may be experienced, which is excessive amounts of sleep but persistent malaise. Other symptoms may include general fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, weight gain and constipation.
3 tips to support thyroid health for great sleep
- Keep iron levels in check – a deficiency in iron attenuates the activity of heme-dependent peroxidase by 30-50%, thereby impairing thyroid hormone synthesis. Moreover, this is often a common deficiency overlooked on blood tests!
- Don’t overdo the raw cruciferous laden smoothies – despite what medical medium channelled via spirit, excessive intakes of goitrogens can suppress iodine which is needed for thyroid hormones! While this may work in favour for hyperthyroidism, if yours is more on the sluggish side consider steaming your kale before whizzing it up in the blender. A mix of semi-steamed, cooked and small amounts of raw are most ideal.
- Get functional testing to address underlying infections and nutrient deficiencies such as selenium, tyrosine, and iodine.
How your Pancreas is affecting your sleep
When we often think of the pancreas, most of us think in terms of digestion, insulin and blood sugar regulation. But did you know there are also receptors located in this gland for the master sleep hormone known as melatonin? What’s the purpose for that you ask? It’s not well established, however it has been postulated to be an adaptive mechanism to stabilise blood sugar levels whilst sleeping, as melatonin signals a cessation of insulin production overnight. With this in mind, we also know that melatonin works diurnally with cortisol (in which cortisol ideally rises upon wake to promote energy, and when it drops, melatonin increases to promote restful sleep). Now you might be starting to see the significance of eating patterns, blood sugar stability and sleep. Therefore, we ideally want to eat our way to better sleep.
4 tips to support your Pancreas for a great sleep
- Eat according to our biological clock. This entails the avoidance of eating around 3 hours before sleeping and ideally having the last meal at 6pm – as mentioned above, our insulin sensitivity is temporarily diminished later at night, meaning increased fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which we want to avoid.
- Consider intermittent or time restricted fasting – eating earlier in the day when we’re more insulin sensitive and within an 8 or so hour period. Discuss with your functional medicine practitioner if this route is best for you.
- Avoid grazing throughout the day.
- Eat a diet low in refined carbohydrates and rich in healthy tryptophan containing foods such as chicken, turkey, duck and watercress. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, which is needed to convert into our spotlight hormone, melatonin.
How you Adrenal Glands are affecting your Sleep
Chronic elevated stress may be causing the adrenal glands to produce excessive cortisol, which could be disrupting your natural circadian rhythm. Ideally, our cortisol is highest around 8am and lowest at 4am, but if there is a dysregulation, adrenaline can be produced at the wrong time of night resulting in a hyper-vigilant state incompatible for restful sleep. Conversely, adrenal fatigue can cause a too low level of cortisol, which translates to low blood sugar levels, leading to disrupted sleep as the body signifies it needs to refuel.
5 tips to support your Adrenals for a great night sleep
- Avoid watching stressful stimuli close to bed, save those scary Netflix movies for daytime to avoid an influx of adrenaline – and better yet switch off ALL technology a few hours before bed to further enhance melatonin production!
- Soft exercises like yin yoga and qi gong are wonderful restorative practises to support stress, adrenal function and sleep quality.
- Breathing techniques such as Buteyko help to promote a parasympathetic response and attenuate excessive stress chemicals.
- Eat vitamin c rich foods, such as berries, papaya and broccoli.
- Consider working with a naturopath to get functional testing such as the DUTCH test to ascertain your individual biochemistry and adrenal function.
Next week we will further explore how to use our environment to further regulate circadian rhythmicity, stay tuned!
By Fallon Cashell