Losing sleep at night or feeling sleepy during the day can have far-reaching consequences for your health and well-being. If you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, this is especially important to keep in mind.
The thyroid gland secretes hormones that affect every bodily process and system, including metabolic regulation and heart rate control.
Insufficiency of hormone production by the thyroid can lead to various symptoms, including exhaustion and trouble sleeping.
Inadequate hormone levels can wreak havoc on a person’s well-being. The role of the thyroid gland in determining the quality of one’s slumber can be crucial.
The link between hypothyroidism and insomnia has received scant attention, and little study has shown contradictory findings.
Insomnia and hypothyroidism may be connected to various causes, some of which are explored in this article. Additionally, it delves into how people might get comfort from their symptoms.
Hyperthyroidism And Hypothyroidism
In cases of hyperthyroidism, the thyroid hormone levels are significantly above normal. It’s a stimulant, so it raises blood pressure, makes you sweat and urinate more, makes you anxious, and helps you lose weight.
Hypothyroidism manifests when the body’s thyroid hormone production decreases to an unhealthy degree. Some of the signs of hypothyroidism include:
- Intolerance to colds
- Weight gain
- Emotional instability
They have the same capacity for supporting roles. Thyroid problems are the primary cause of symptoms. Either stimulation or destruction causes changes in the body’s thyroid hormone level.
The overproduction of thyroid hormone is a symptom of Graves disease, an autoimmune condition that triggers this response.
The destruction of thyroid hormone by Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis leads to hypothyroidism. Also, thyroid tumors can cause hyper or hypothyroidism. Thus, regular examinations are essential.
When the hypothalamus or pituitary gland in the brain is at fault, we speak about a secondary condition. The thyroid hormone production will be excessive or inadequate if one is out of whack.
Is Insomnia a Possible Side Effect of Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism and insomnia may have a mutual relationship. So, subclinical hypothyroidism and poor sleep were examined in a 2019 study.
Subclinical hypothyroidism refers to an undiagnosed, early stage of hypothyroidism.
Significant connections were found when the sleep patterns of 12,622 individuals with normal thyroid hormone levels and 2,224 people with subclinical hypothyroidism were analyzed. People who were hypothyroid but not clinically ill presented with the following symptoms:
- Fewer hours of sleep
- Delay in falling asleep, or sleep latency, is longer.
- Little satisfaction with one’s sleep
According to the researchers, individuals with both hypothyroidism and poor sleep quality were also more likely to be:
- have lower body weight
Earlier studies from 2014 also investigated the possible link between subclinical hypothyroidism and poor sleep quality, although with a smaller and less representative sample size.
From the total of 682 male participants, 38 were diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Results showed no correlation between low thyroid hormone levels and poor sleep quality. But the study’s limitations mean that its results should be treated with caution.
For What Reasons Could Hypothyroidism And Insomnia be Linked?
Elevated levels of stimulating thyroid hormone are associated with subclinical hypothyroidism. Conversely, when thyroid hormone levels are low, the brain triggers the pituitary gland to secrete more TSH.
The thyroid increases hormone-free thyroxine production in response to the thyroid-stimulating hormone.
Those with subclinical hypothyroidism have increased TSH levels and normal blood levels of T4, indicating either the absence or low severity of hypothyroidism symptoms.
Researchers speculate that elevated TSH levels may lead to sleep disturbances, although they do not know why.
The relationship between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid is known as the HPT axis. When a person starts to nod off, the HPT axis revs up.
It stimulates the thyroid gland, producing a greater thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) output. This thyroid stimulation could make sleeping difficult in certain people.
Insomnia And Hypothyroidism: A Complex Relationship
The following explains why hypothyroidism is linked to sleep disturbances:
Insomnia and sleep issues are often linked to hypothyroidism rather than hyperthyroidism. But tiredness is a typical symptom of hypothyroidism.
You’d think being tired all day would help you sleep better at night. But in many cases, patients report feeling exhausted both throughout the day and at night. As a member of the endocrine system, the thyroid secretes hormones that regulate metabolism and keep the body running smoothly.
Weakness during the day results from a slow metabolism—poor sleep quality at night results from hormone disruptions that occur during the night. People with hypothyroidism may also be at increased risk for developing sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
Hypothyroidism may also mean issues with the adrenal glands or elsewhere in the endocrine system. This is because these glands produce cortisol or the “stress hormone.”
High amounts of cortisol at night might give you energy and keep you up. It can happen if your adrenal glands are overworked or not regulating effectively.
But, individuals with hypothyroidism generally have problems enduring colds at night. They also have trouble sleeping due to joint or muscular pain.
Hypothyroidism slows metabolism, makes you tired during the day, and raises your risk of developing certain sleep disorders. For example, sleep apnea affects about 30% of those who have hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can disrupt even the healthiest sleep. Sleep disruption in this population is caused by a lack of oxygen and the effort required to breathe through a blocked airway. This factor may contribute to hypothyroid patients’ already significant daytime fatigue.
Follow These Tips to Overcome Hypothyroidism And Sleep Disorders
A good night’s sleep is crucial to overcome the daytime lethargy that can result from an underactive thyroid. Here are some suggestions to help you sleep better and get more shut-eye.
1. Ensure Your Bedroom is Always Clean And Comfortable
Your bedroom’s cleanliness is directly proportional to how well you sleep. So always ensure your bedroom is neat and tidy, and eliminate any clutter that can cause you to lose focus.
Be sure to get a high-quality bed and pillows. In general, a temperature around 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is best for a good night’s rest.
2. Night-Time Simulation
A set of noise-canceling earplugs would work as well. For some, silence is essential to restful slumber.
Having a set of noise-canceling earplugs is a lifesaver if you live near a particularly noisy area.
But, many find that just a specific sound can put them to sleep. As the sound plays, you may experience a pleasant sensation known as an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), which may put you to sleep.
It could be something as simple as the turning on of an electric fan, the sound of rain, or even the calm voice of a companion.
3. Establish a Routine to Help You Relax
If you suffer from hypothyroidism or lack of sleep, a warm bath will do more than help you feel clean.
Adding Epsom salts and calming essential oils, like lavender, to a warm bath is a great way to wind down before bed. The soothing scent of lavender complements the Epsom salts’ ability to flush the body of impurities.
A cup of herbal tea and some soothing music are two more options.
Maintaining a regular bedtime routine can also assist in teaching your body to wind down at the end of the day.
You can distract yourself from your worries through meditation, yoga, calm breathing, or even counting sheep. Do not use electronic devices, as they may interfere with your circadian cycle.
4. Prepare Your Body to Slow Down
Sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia, can be alleviated by engaging in activities that calm the mind and slow down the body. If you’re having trouble unwinding, try yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
Also, watch TV or social media for only an hour before bedtime.
5. Reduce Nighttime Snacking
Sleep problems are common among those with full stomachs. Protein and carbohydrates work well together. So medical professionals encourage meals like natural peanut butter on whole-wheat toast.
Eat foods high in fiber, Omega-3 fats, probiotics, iron, and antioxidants if you find yourself eating three square meals at night. Your doctor can help you create a hypothyroid meal plan that will be ideal for you.
It’s not bad, but you shouldn’t drink coffee late at night. Caffeine has acid-reflux and sleep-inducing properties. These are especially problematic for those with hypothyroidism and poor sleep.
Your thyroid medicine is less effective if you take them within an hour before or after.
A possible solution is to reduce your alcohol consumption.
There is evidence that drinking alcohol reduces thyroid function by causing cellular damage. In other words, alcohol consumption might lead to a decrease in vital thyroid hormones like thyroxine.
6. Short Afternoon Naps
In cases of hypothyroidism and chronic sleep deprivation, naps can help you catch up on some of the restless sleep you’ve been missing.
Just 10 minutes of sleep can help you feel fully awake and alert again, recharging your batteries for the rest of the day.
But, try to limit naps to no more than 30 minutes at a time, as doing so can help prevent thyroid sleep problems. Taking more prolonged or frequent naps has been linked to lower productivity and increased risk of disease and death.
7. Regular Exercise
The motivation to exercise is the furthest thing from your mind when your thyroid function is low.
So instead, you should start off by doing low-impact cardio and strengthening exercises. This is because they won’t put too much strain on your inflamed joints and muscles.
Daytime exercise that targets fat loss and muscle gain may be beneficial. Furthermore, daytime exercise is essential for obtaining vitamin D and establishing a healthy circadian rhythm.
You shouldn’t work out less than three hours before night; ideally, the window should be closer to two.
8. Quit Smoking
Since it is a stimulant, nicotine will prevent you from getting restful sleep and cause sleep disorders. Chronic sleep loss and hypothyroidism are both exacerbated by cigarette smoking.
To avoid worsening your thyroid condition, quitting smoking is a good idea. But unfortunately, your thyroid condition can worsen if you quit smoking.
A consultation with your doctor can help you determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition.
9. Supplement Your Diet With Magnesium
Taking a magnesium supplement of 400 mg daily has the potential to alleviate both your thyroid issues and your sleeplessness.
First, discuss your thyroid health, diet, and medication with your doctor to determine the optimal dosage.
10. Increase Your Sunlight Exposure
Circadian rhythms are your body’s internal clock. They tell you when it is time to sleep and influence your hormone levels, body temperature, and mental alertness.
Constant exposure to intense natural light can assist in maintaining a normal circadian cycle. It helps you sleep longer and better at night and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
As per research, 2 hours of sun exposure improved sleep quality and duration for seniors by 80%.
If access to sunlight is limited where you live, you should make every effort to soak up as much of the sun’s rays as you can each day.
11. No Liquids Before Bed
The biggest reason for avoiding liquids before bed is the urge to urinate during the night. It also affects one’s ability to sleep well at night and maintain high energy levels during the day.
While drinking plenty of water during the day is good for your health, cutting back after dinner is a good idea. Then, at least an hour before bedtime, avoid drinking anything other than water.
You can reduce the number of times you have to get up during the night to urinate if you go potty right before bed.
12. Sleep And Wake up at The Same Time
Your circadian rhythm is like a feedback loop that trains your body to operate on a 24-hour cycle. If you stick to a regular bedtime routine, your body will learn to slow down and get ready for sleep.
Poor sleep quality was found in research on adolescents with an inconsistent sleeping pattern and a late bedtime. Irregular sleep schedules might throw off your circadian rhythm.
The best way to ensure you get quality sleep over the long run is to adhere to regular bedtime and wake time.
There is some evidence linking hypothyroidism and insomnia. But, this relationship has not been confirmed across studies.
However, joint and muscular pain are common complaints among those with hypothyroidism. They can make it difficult to sleep at night.
Thyroid dysfunction can cause a multitude of symptoms in a person. But, even if the lack of thyroid hormone is not the main cause of insomnia, those symptoms can worsen the problem and make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
If insomnia persists, consulting a doctor is your best bet. It could be helpful to treat the underlying issue and adjust one’s lifestyle to encourage better sleep.