Millions of people have hypothyroidism, and many of these people are unable to obtain quality sleep on a nightly basis. For those people looking to follow a natural treatment protocol to restore their health back to normal, getting sufficient sleep is essential. Not doing so can cause problems with the adrenal glands, which can worsen the hypothyroid condition.
In fact, getting insufficient sleep is one of the factors which can actually lead to the development of hypothyroidism. While there of course are other factors, not getting quality sleep each night over a prolonged period of time will weaken the adrenal glands. This in turn will put the body into a state of catabolism, which means it is breaking down. In order to stop this process the thyroid gland will slow down, thus resulting in a hypothyroid condition. This obviously isn’t the reason behind every case of hypothyroidism, but it is a common problem. This is why each person needs to be evaluated on an individual basis, and not just given synthetic or natural thyroid hormone for the rest of their life without looking at the adrenal glands.
How You Can Obtain More Sleep…And Help Restore Your Thyroid Health
While getting sufficient sleep alone most likely won’t restore your thyroid health, it’s definitely an important factor. As a result, here are some things you can do to help you obtain better quality sleep each night:
1. Eat Well. What you eat and when you eat can both have an impact on how you sleep. If you eat a lot of refined foods and sugars throughout the day on a regular basis, then this will affect your blood sugar levels, and can make it difficult to fall asleep and/or stay asleep at night. You also don’t want to eat right before going to bed. Ideally you want to refrain from eating at least two hours before going to sleep, and three hours would be even better. If you must have something to eat before going to bed make sure it’s something high in protein, which won’t affect your blood sugar levels as much as something high in carbohydrates, such as a bowl of cereal, which seems to be a common nighttime snack (at least in the United States).
2. Obtain An ASI Test. An Adrenal Stress Index test will measure the levels of cortisol, which can affect your sleep. For example, someone who has high cortisol levels at night probably will have a difficult time falling asleep, and/or will wake up in the middle of the night. If the person is waking up in the middle of the night then it’s a good idea to obtain a one-sample test to determine whether the cortisol levels are high or low, as either one can cause someone to wake up in the middle of the night (although usually it’s due to high cortisol levels)
Low cortisol levels in the morning can make it difficult for people to wake up in the morning. So high cortisol levels at night and low cortisol levels in the morning can interfere with your sleep. And by obtaining an ASI test it can be determined whether or not your cortisol levels need to be regulated through a natural treatment protocol.
3. Exercise Regularly. Exercising on a regular basis can also help you to sleep better. I know that I personally seem to sleep better on the days I exercise. However, you probably don’t want to exercise too close to your bedtime. Plus, I’m not suggesting that anyone engage in exercise that is too strenuous, as 30 minutes of mild to moderate cardiovascular exercise (walking, bike, rowing machine, elliptical, etc.) should be sufficient.
4. Manage Your Stress Better. People who deal with a lot of chronic stress and do a poor job of handling it frequently have problems obtaining quality sleep. There are a few different reasons for this. One reason is due to the fact that chronic stress also will affect the levels of cortisol over time, which as I just discussed, can affect the quality and quantity of sleep.
Another reason why people with chronic stress have difficulty sleeping is due to the mental effects stress has. For example, if someone is having financial difficulties, marital problems, health issues, and other problems which is causing a lot of stress, then constantly thinking about these problems will make it difficult to fall asleep. Obviously it’s not easy to just forget about one’s problems, but on the other hand, worrying about them 24/7, especially at night when trying to sleep, won’t make things better. Of course it’s easy enough to say this, and I realize it’s a big challenge to manage one’s stress. All I can say is that no matter how much stress you deal with on a daily basis, if you want to sleep well and overall be healthy, it is necessary to develop better stress handling skills. Some people need special techniques such as yoga, meditation, or biofeedback (see www.heartmath.com).
5. Certain Nutritional Supplements & Herbs Can Help. Taking nutritional supplements and herbs (i.e. melatonin, valerian root, etc.) can help someone sleep better. However, most of the time, taking such supplements and herbs should only be on a temporary basis. I don’t like seeing anyone continuously taking supplements and/or herbs to help them sleep. If you eat well, exercise regularly, and do a good job of managing your stress then you really shouldn’t have a problem obtaining quality sleep each night. If your cortisol levels are high at night you might need to take something to help lower these levels, but once again, it should only be on a temporary basis. Getting back to the lifestyle factors, many people think they are eating well and have good stress handling skills, but the truth is that most people who think they eat well can do better, and most people do a poor job of managing their stress. Once again, these lifestyle factors won’t only help you to sleep better, but can help many people with hypothyroidism restore their health back to normal.
6. Other Factors. There are obviously other factors which can help you obtain better quality sleep each night, such as avoiding stimulants (caffeine, etc.), making sure your room is completely dark, going to bed earlier and waking up later, etc. Even though these may seem like common sense to you, many people consume a lot of stimulants throughout the day (coffee, chocolate, etc.), and then wonder why they have difficulty sleeping. Similarly, some people go to sleep later than they should, and this messes up their sleep cycles.
In summary, many people with hypothyroidism have difficulty obtaining quality sleep each night, which is frequently caused by adrenal gland issues. But if you follow the advice I have given in this article it will help you to develop and then maintain strong adrenal glands, which can help you to sleep better.