You’ve tried all the things. Sleepy-time tea, cutting out screen time, meditation...yet you’re still not sleeping well. If you’re out of ideas and desperate for some good shut-eye, it might be time to consider your hormones.
The human body makes about 50 different hormones that play big roles in your everyday life. Fertility, mood, metabolism, immunity, sex-drive, skin-appearance—and sleep—are largely impacted by the state of them.
But your hormones can also be affected by your environment and daily habits.
How hormones impact sleep:
Because stress, travel, medical conditions, work schedules, and poor sleeping conditions can all influence your hormones as well as the quality and quantity of your sleep cycle, when trying to identity what’s keeping you up at night, it’s important to look at hormones within the context of your environment
According to Dr. James, “The master clock of our body is a group of about 20,000 nerve cells that coordinate our circadian rhythm. This is in essence the cycle of our behaviors in response to lightness and darkness, which in turn translates into when we sleep and when we are awake. Our body makes hormones and signaling molecules which contribute to our circadian rhythm, but much of it is influenced by our environment.”
Long story short, Our bodies create hormones that contribute to our circadian rhythm but much of our quality (and quantity) of sleep is influenced by our environment.
Which hormones are we talking about?
But in a chicken-or-the-egg-type situation, while an imbalance of any of these hormones can affect your quality of sleep, a poor night’s sleep can likewise have negative effects on your hormones. For example, one study found that even one night of partial sleep deprivation can induce insulin resistance in healthy subjects, and many other studies have confirmed that poor sleep can lower testosterone levels which can then affect fertility. No bueno.
So how do we get that good night’s sleep?
Stay on top of your sleep hygiene.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool.
Avoid looking at your screen for an hour or two before going to sleep. Think of the blue light emitting from your devices as instant coffee. It makes your brain think you’re still smack dab in the middle of the day. Try winding down with a book instead.
Taper off of the actual coffee, as well as tea, soda, and anything with caffeine by the late afternoon. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause insomnia.
Be aware of your alcohol intake. Though alcohol can help you feel tired (or put you straight to bed 🙃), it isn’t great for your circadian rhythm and can keep you from reaching the deep levels of sleep you need to feel rested.
Don’t eat before bed.
A midnight snack may sound appealing but it’s likely to raise your insulin and cortisol levels which can affect your ability to fall into a deep REM sleep, or stay asleep. Try to finish eating within a few hours of when you plan to go to bed.
Take a CBD supplement.
CBD, a non-psychoactive (meaning it won’t get you high) cannabidiol from the cannabis plant, has been shown to help with some of the root causes of insomnia, like anxiety and pain. In one study of 72 adults who were suffering from anxiety and poor sleep, after a month of taking CBD, 79.2% of them saw their anxiety scores decrease and 66.7% experienced improved sleep.
Exercising has been shown to reduce sleep onset--the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. It can also help with anxiety and obesity, both of which can cause insomnia.
Work on stress management
Racing thoughts are not the lullaby you need. Calming the mind before bedtime is one of the most important things you can do to get a good night’s sleep. On top of using CBD, consider implementing a nice long bath with a CBD bath bomb into your nighttime routine.
Consult your doctor about any medical issues you have that may contribute to poor sleep
Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, and hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause and a woman’s menstrual cycle, can all affect how well you sleep. If you think any of these could be contributing to your sleeplessness, talk to a medical professional about steps you can take.
Many people experience sleeplessness and sometimes hormones are the culprit. Taking steps to make sure your environment is as sleep-friendly as possible, your body and mind are calm, and your health is well-managed are all great ways to take back control of that coveted shut-eye.