Sleep plays an important role in keeping the body healthy and moving forward. But, unfortunately, many people today suffer from insomnia. In simple terms, insomnia can be described as a condition that causes a person difficulty in falling and/or staying asleep.
It can lead to imbalances and cause damage throughout the body if it is left untreated and ignored.
There are several reasons why a person may suffer from insomnia, like hormonal imbalance, stress, environmental toxins, nutritional imbalances, and thyroid problems. These factors are responsible for inhibiting sleep and can further develop into chronic insomnia.
One way of treating insomnia is by understanding the effect that the thyroid has on one’s sleep and treating it accordingly.
There are two types of insomnia:
Acute insomnia is usually brief and can occur due to daily life situations like receiving bad news or being nervous for an important examination or interview the next day.
Most of us have experienced acute insomnia at some point in our life and it usually disappears on its own. There is no treatment needed for acute insomnia.
On the other hand, chronic insomnia is entirely different than its counterpart. Incidents are referred to as a case of chronic insomnia if the person is not being able to sleep properly for at least three nights a week in a span of minimum three months.
The causes of chronic insomnia usually run deeper than nervousness. This problem may arise from factors like psychological issues, medical conditions, and hormonal imbalances.
Usually, a form of sleep aids are prescribed by a physician or treatment of a health problem that is leading to insomnia can correct this condition.
The connection between insomnia and hypothyroidism
The Thyroid’s most important function is controlling the metabolism in almost all the cells of the body. When the thyroid starts to malfunction, the hormonal levels may rest outside the range of being healthy or swing extremely and erratically.
The three significant elements that are responsible for a good night’s sleep and are connected to the thyroid gland are:
Low progesterone level leads to sleep apnea. According to studies, sleep apnea happens when the body releases less progesterone levels. In this condition, sleep apnea stops breathing during the night. This happens because of weakened respiratory muscle and decreases the lung function.
This cause pauses in breathing during sleeping called snoring, which disrupts your sleep for a few seconds at least hundred times per night.
Low levels of estrogens cause hot flashes during your sleeping hours, thereby keeping you awake throughout the night. Reduced testosterone levels can also reduce sleep consistency and quality.
The lack of sleep due to testosterone makes it difficult for the body to regenerate and recuperate. Hence, you wake up tired and sluggish.
Because of improper cortisol balance, it is very common for people with hypothyroidism to experience a lack of sleep. Since the thyroid is tied closely to the adrenals, when the former experiences an impact, the latter can also malfunction.
The adrenals are responsible for releasing cortisol, which is very beneficial if it is in a proper balance. Cortisol helps the body get a move in the morning; as the level of cortisol decreases through the day, we get tired and fall asleep when the levels are at its lowest.
But, if the thyroid is not functioning properly, the adrenals could end up producing more-than-necessary cortisol. Due to the heightened mental state, it is difficult for the body to achieve sleep. Being anxious (also a symptom of hypothyroidism) can contribute to the continuous release of cortisol.
The melatonin is a critical element in maintaining the body’s day-and-night cycle and is produced by the pituitary gland. The synthesis and release of melatonin are triggered by darkness and helps the body fall asleep.
By maintaining correct melatonin levels, one can maintain the various bodily systems in line.
According to studies, the melatonin under TSH control is synthesized by thyroid C-cells; it also provides evidence that the melatonin is involved in the thyroid function by regulating thyroglobulin gene expression in follicular cells.
Hence, impaired thyroid function (especially in TSH concentration) can lead to a disturbed sleep cycle.
How common is insomnia?
About 50 to 70 million adults in the US suffer from sleep disorders; with insomnia the most prevalent sleep disturbance, according to the American Sleep Association. From these many, about 10% are affected by chronic insomnia and 30% suffer from acute insomnia.
Most of us experience insomnia, either chronic or acute, at some point in time in our lives. It shows on our psychological and physical health.
The thyroid function and insomnia, both, are connected strongly, but it does not strike our minds when trying to root out the cause of sleeping difficulty.
Before jumping to any conclusion and ending up with wrong medications, it is wiser that you first visit a doctor and get a final diagnosis of your thyroid health.
The doctor will tell you the best ways of tackling the problem without causing further complications.