Hormones Contribute- Insomnia

November 19, 2010
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We have all experienced challenges in our sleep but when insomnia becomes a regular part of your life, we need to look deeper for its causal factors.

TOPIC TWO (A): Do Hormones Contribute to Insomnia?

Our hormones work in synchronicity together and in a biorhythm according to daily and monthly cycles. Conditions like:

  • chronic fatigue
  • irritable bowel
  • lyme disease
  • Chron’s disease
  • celiac sprue
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • environmental sensitivities
  • chronic and severe allergies
  • adrenal fatigue
  • PMS
  • menopause
  • andropause
  • migraines and fibromyalgia

can make us particularly prone to the hormonal influences that aggravate these conditions and fuel sleep disorders and create chronic insomnia.

Adrenals and Blood Sugar

The adrenal glands located above each kidney excrete the hormone cortisol in a biorhythm unique to themselves. The hormone cortisol, for purposes of this article, serves to help regulate and control our blood sugar through its prompting of the body to secrete insulin. The net effect should be improved absorption of simple sugars into our cells to fuel our brain and body’s energy needs.

Too much cortisol excreted before bed, and we excrete too much insulin. We find ourselves hungry before bed. Depending upon how long we have been excreting excessive amounts of insulin, we can become insulin resistant and our body will not respond well to our eating before bed. Insulin resistance prevents the carbohydrates we eat from being absorbed into our cells. These undigested sugars remain outside our cells where they feed pathogens in our body, causing leaky gut, bloating, gas, and persistent low blood sugar from insulin resistance even though we ate before bed to satisfy our hunger. It will be difficult to fall asleep. We feel as if what we have eaten has not given us the satisfaction of feeling fed and our munchies might persist late into the night!

If we do fall asleep, our sleep would be light and we find ourselves waking several times, maybe with a slight gnawing hunger. Or, our sleep will be disturbed by digestive upset from what we ate because it could not be absorbed on a cellular level and the secondary effects of mal-absorption, overgrowth of dysbiotic bacteria, yeast and candida give us a distended, bloated, stagnant feeling that makes it difficult to sleep.

How do we get too much cortisol before bed? We discuss adrenal function and cortisol in more depth in other articles. However, our activity before bed has a direct effect upon our cortisol levels. Too much mental stimulation too long and before bed, such as being on the computer all night, watching too much stimulating TV, family strife, working too late, eating too late into the night and taking in stimulates too late in the day or evening such as coffee and teas and alcohol, can over stimulate the body, causing a stressed adrenal response. Our adrenals will output more cortisol to compensate for our energy needs when we should be winding down a least one hour before bedtime. To find out what your cortisol levels are, order your saliva test kit at www.immunematrix.com.

If you find yourself feeling hungry an hour or two before bed, consider the above lifestyle changes and make two dietary changes. First, make sure that your dinner includes more protein and vegetables and less carbohydrates than you are currently eating. Consider omitting all refined carbohydrates from dinner. This will help to sustain your blood sugar well into the night and allow you to have a steady sleep with good blood sugar. Secondly, if you do become hungry before bed even with more protein at dinner, then instead of a carbohydrate snack such as cereal before bed, eat a protein snack. Try an egg, or a slice of turkey, a small low sugar protein shake with a bit of flax oil if possible. The protein will help to keep your adrenals strong, it will prevent a spike in your blood sugar if you are in fact developing insulin resistance, and it will help to sustain your blood sugar through the night as you sleep.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan