Why You're So Freakin' Tired & What To Do About It
Good quality sleep is crucial to having balanced hormones, it’s also one of the things that’s difficult to get when you are having hormonal issues! So frustrating really, and not fair.
Americans as a whole aren’t getting enough sleep. There are so many different reasons for this, sometimes it’s a choice while others are unable to get the sleep because of a health issue. Let’s chat about some underlying health problems or lifestyle factors that could be the reason you’re not getting the recommended 8 hours of blissful uninterrupted sleep you need every night. Honestly, it’s super rare that I have a patient come in reporting that they get good sleep every night. Most of the women I work with are dealing with a variety of health challenges by the time they get to me so often working on getting better sleep is one of the first things we address.
Common underlying root causes of sleep issues include hormonal imbalances, making the wrong lifestyle choices during the day, food sensitivities, and it can even be a sign of a gut infection. It’s usually a combination of these issues and we want to help you get the answers you need.
The hormonal imbalance category is the biggest because this can include issues with HPA axis dysfunction or what some people call Adrenal Issues, or it can be because of something like menopause. Either way it’s a good idea to check out your hormonal status to see if that’s where your inability to sleep is coming from. We typically run the Dutch test which is a dried urine test that looks at hormones and their metabolites to see if there is a particular area that is more out of balance. Often times just correcting that with supplements and lifestyle factors makes a big difference in sleep patterns. Unfortunately, most of us are currently stressed or have dealt with long stressful periods in the past that have caused hormonal imbalances with cortisol and have altered our natural circadian rhythms. When we’re under stress our body naturally produces more cortisol and you’ll have sleep issues if you have high cortisol into the evening hours.
Menopause is another one of the hormonal imbalances that can cause sleep issues and there are things we can do to help ease that. When levels of estrogen and progesterone are spiking at night it can wake you up and many women deal with hot flashes that wake them up as well. As many as 61% of women from peri to post menopause deal with insomnia. It also doesn’t help that many women have to get up to urinate more during this time of life as well. If it’s this kind of hormonal imbalance you are dealing with there are natural herbs that are phytoestrogens which can help like black cohosh or flaxseed oil. These are typically safer to use during menopause to naturally help raise estrogen levels and are definitely safer than synthetic hormones. As always, we recommend working with a practitioner to help you determine what your body actually needs.
As living beings we have been on a 24 hour light and dark cycle for thousands of years and it wasn’t until the past 150 years or so that we were introduced to artificial light sources. Naturally in the morning when we are exposed to sunlight that triggers the body to produce cortisol which is the hormone that is highest in the morning and gives us the energy to get up and go, then hours later when the sun goes down and it becomes dark our bodies naturally produce melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep. Exposure to artificial light has altered this natural response and now many of us are up at 10 or 11 at night with lights still on or staring at a screen so natural melatonin production gets delayed. The best thing we can do for this is to wake up and get a little time outside in natural light first thing in the morning so it can stimulate the natural circadian rhythm for the day. If you are working inside all day try to get out for a few minutes midday and get some sunlight then too. At night when it gets dark, activate the blue light filter on your devices or wear some special glasses that block the blue light if you are going to be up watching tv. Obviously the best idea is to turn off all devices a couple of hours before bed but I know that for most people that simply won’t happen. With a private practice, online business and kids I often have to do work in the evenings on my computer so I just wear the yellow glasses, activate the blue light filter on my screen and know that I am doing the best I can.
Are you making poor lifestyle choices?
Another possible reason for not getting enough good quality sleep is making poor lifestyle choices. This is super common and easy to fix. I can’t tell you how many people I have worked with over the years that complained about not sleeping well and when I went over their intake I was shocked at their answers! I never dreamed that someone would not put it together that drinking caffeine all day can lead to an inability to sleep well at night but I see it all the time. If you are having troubles with sleeping you really need to avoid caffeine completely. If you must have it do it before noon if possible. People are pounding coffee and energy drinks all day long and then wondering why they can’t go to sleep at night…
Is it diet related?
Some people’s sleep issues are due to food sensitivities. It seems kinda crazy to think diet affects sleep but it really can. If you’re eating foods that your body doesn’t break down well you’re increasing your overall inflammation which definitely affects sleep. If you’re eating high carb foods that contain sugar, it affects your blood sugar and cause you to wake up at night. Foods like gluten and dairy and soy that naturally cause an increase in inflammation affect the brain and your neurotransmitters which then affect your sleep.
It’s important to go on an Anti Inflammatory diet or Elimination Diet to discover which foods you may be reacting to. Don’t freak out, it’s a few weeks of eating clean and can be super helpful information. Once you eliminate those foods that are stressing your body, many people find that their sleep is greatly improved!
Need to detox?
Toxicity can also affect the body similarly to the way food sensitivities do. Again the inflammation that’s triggered by fighting off toxins in the body will affect the body’s ability to get good sleep. Toxins can deplete our minerals such as magnesium which is a wonderful calming nutrient that often helps people sleep better at night.
Dealing with sleep problems isn’t fun and really impedes your ability to live a healthy productive life. As you know, sleep is a key component to naturally balancing your hormones so it’s important for you to work with a qualified practitioner to help identify your root cause(s) to poor sleep if what you are doing on your own isn’t working.
If you have any other natural sleep tips let us know in the comments!
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.