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When was the last time you felt refreshed, focussed, well rested and ready to tackle the day? If those days are a thing of the past, then you could be affected by sleeplessness. Good sleep is the key player in good health and well-being throughout our life. Studies conducted by the sleep foundation . shows that women are 40 percent more likely to have insomnia as compared to men. They have also concluded that hormones are a major culprit behind woman’s greater need for sleep than men. This article will clear all your doubts about how hormones affect our sleep and the steps needed to fix our sleep.  

Why Is Sleep Important?

Sleep is important, as it can help protect our mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.The feeling that you get when you are awake depends partly on what happens while you are asleep. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. Therefore a broken sleep or lesser sleep could affect this process immensely. 

How Much Sleep Do I Ideally Need?

The amount of sleep that we need depends on the person and their age as shown in the table given below

chart showing number of hours you should sleep according to your age

Can Hormone Imbalance Cause Sleep Problems?

Hormone imbalance has a direct connection with sleep deprivation. Hormones are the ones that tell our body what to do. Hormone levels shoot up or down, during our menstrual cycle, while and after pregnancy, and especially around menopause which causes women to be more vulnerable to sleep problems.

What Are the Hormones That Affect My Sleep?

Some of the major hormones that affect your sleep are:

Oestrogen

Oestrogen is a hormone that can be found in both men and women.On average, women have higher levels of oestrogen, and it helps initiate sexual development, increases bone formation and helps to support your skin. Oestrogen particularly fluctuates during the menstrual cycle and spikes up as you approach menopause. This could cause many symptoms such as irregular periods, hot flushes, mood swings 

and muscle and joint pain. All these issues can directly disrupt your sleep pattern in one way or the other. 

Progesterone

Progesterone, also known as the female sex hormone helps to sustain the lining of your uterus in case of a pregnancy. It is also very important for healthy brain function, has a natural anti-anxiety  effect, and can help you to fall asleep faster thereby causing fewer sleep disruptions. Progesterone is also directly linked to oestrogen in a way that it drops down when the levels of oestrogen goes up. Hence during menopause or menstruation, the progesterone levels fall down and cause irregular periods, hot flushes, mood swings, muscle pain and joint pain, which can disrupt your sleep pattern. 

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels. It helps your body to utilise the sugar, or glucose, derived from your food. Insulin is often secreted when your blood glucose levels become too high. Having too much glucose can be harmful and hence when it happens, insulin helps store the extra glucose in the liver. When your blood glucose level increases regularly, your body can become less sensitive to insulin.This means your body needs to produce more insulin to have the same impact, which can lead to diabetes.Sleep deprivation can raise your blood sugar levels and encourage unhealthy eating habits. High sugar can also crash in between sleep cycles, causing a destructive sleep pattern. 

Cortisol & Melatonin

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, regulates your metabolism and reduces inflammation. You can learn all about how cortisol affects women’s health and the menstrual cycle by clicking here

Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, works with cortisol. When your optic nerves detect a diminishing natural light, your brain nerves trigger the release of melatonin which help you relax and feel drowsy in preparation for sleep. As melatonin levels increase, cortisol levels decrease and vice-versa. If you are suffering from stress, you will undergo a spike in cortisol levels, thereby decreasing your melatonin and hence inducing sleeplessness. Other than stress, sugar can also cause a similar effect in increasing the cortisol levels. 

lady frustrated by not sleeping

How Does Menopause Affect Sleep?

Menopause is a normal stage of ageing where the ovaries stop producing oestrogen and progesterone hormones and stop menstruating. This can cause various symptoms in 70-80% cases such as, a sudden feeling of warmth throughout the body and sweating. These symptoms can easily disrupt your sleep by making you feel uneasy and could lead to morning drowsiness.   

What Hormone Keeps Me Awake at Night?

The main hormones that keep you awake at night at melatonin, cortisol and insulin as mentioned in the previous section. 

Can Female Hormones Cause Insomnia?

Female hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone, insulin, cortisol and melatonin can cause sleeplessness, especially during menopause thereby leading to insomnia. 

health risks of insomnia in women

Does Broken Sleep Affect Us During Pregnancy?

Broken sleep or poor sleep patterns can directly affect our mental and physical health, especially during pregnancy as it could lead to hypertension, preeclampsia, pulmonary hypertension and gestational diabetes. Sleeplessness could be from developed sleep apnea in pregnant women, which is an obstruction to the normal breathing cycle and hence disrupts the gradual blood flow to the fetus. Sleeplessness could also lead to excessive weight gain due to changes in glucose regulation.

Can you get pregnant during your period? Click here to find out  

How Do I Know If I Have a Hormonal Imbalance?

Hormonal imbalances are caused either by too much or too little of a certain hormone. Signs and symptoms for it could depend on which hormones  or glands aren’t working properly. Signs and symptoms for hormonal imbalance is as shown in the figure below 

Hormone balance in women chart

How Can I Check My Hormone Levels at Home?

If you are facing the symptoms of hormonal imbalance as mentioned in the previous section, then you may need to consider using a home testing kit. Home testing kits typically use saliva or blood from the fingertip to measure the levels of cortisol, thyroid hormones, progesterone and testosterone. Some tests may also require a urine sample. You will have to then send this sample to a lab to attain the results, which would be available in under 9 days. There are many different at-home testing kits available, one of which is from the company LetsGetChecked which provides at-home tests that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How Do I Fix Hormonal Imbalance to Help Me Sleep?

There are some factors that induce hormonal imbalance such as ageing, that are beyond our control. However, there are various steps that can be taken to manage stress and hormonal levels that can aid in bettering our sleep. 

  1.  Get enough sleep
  2. Drink green tea
  3. Avoid too much light at night
  4. Manage stress
  5. Avoid overeating
  6. Exercise regularly 
  7. Avoid sugars
  8. Eat healthful fats
  9. Eat lots of fibre
  10. Quit smoking

What Are the Best Vitamins to Take For Hormonal Imbalance?

Vitamins can play a major role in supporting and balancing healthy hormone production in our body. It is definitely advisable to consult a GP if you have too high of symptoms, however, you may want to consider taking the following vitamins to help support a more healthy and balanced system:

Vitamin D

Vitamin d regulates insulin and the thyroid hormone. It can also balance blood sugar, allowing the body’s natural hormone cycles to function more effectively.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 can help reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as mood changes and irritability. It also helps in synthesising some of the neurotransmitters that affect mood and emotion. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can help in easing the effects of menopause such as insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, palpitations and vaginal dryness. It is believed that vitamin E actually reduces stress through its natural antioxidant properties.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 or Niacin has the ability to help you relax and aid a more restful night of sleep. It relaxes the muscle tissue, allowing the arteries to widen and blood flow to increase.

Final Few Words Before You Sleep

Hormones are not the only things disrupting our ability to get a good night’s sleep, But it is definitely one of the major reasons. A good night’s sleep is definitely what we women need to top up our energy throughout the day. Hope this article will help you get that upper hand. 

woman sleeping peacefully

Reference

Avogel – marianna kilburn – https://www.avogel.co.uk/health/sleep/6-hormones-that-can-affect-your-sleep/ 

Wakefit (2020) – https://www.wakefit.co/blog/hormones-sleep-deep-connection/ 

Hopkins medicine – grace –https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/how-does-menopause-affect-my-sleep#:~:text=Many%20women%20experience%20sleep%20problems,%2C%20says%20Pien%2C%20there’s%20help

WebMD – https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/sleep-disorders-sleep-menopause