The yin and yang of hormones can be constantly fluctuating, causing our bodies to experience different symptoms all the time. There is definitely a link between hormonal imbalances and sleep issues, but should we be concerned and should we have our hormones tested? In this blog, we’ll discuss the different hormonal imbalances to watch out for, some new home hormone testing kits out on the market, and some suggestions on how to naturally improve hormonal imbalances.
Without restful sleep, our bodies cannot heal properly, increasing our risk for dangerous medical conditions like heart disease and cancers, not to mention brain fog and crankiness. There are many reasons why we can’t sleep, including stress, emotional imbalances, environmental factors, and especially menopause. All of these factors can fluctuate our hormones.
Estrogen is the big cheese when it comes to sleep. Too much or too little estrogen can disrupt our sleep patterns. During peri-menopause, progesterone levels begin to decrease first, especially when women are stressed. Both age and stress decrease the amount of progesterone produced by the ovaries. Try using IN:PEACE, our herbal stress formula, to help prevent decreased progesterone levels.
When estrogen levels are higher than progesterone, the menstrual cycle can become irregular and you can experience PMS symptoms which include mood changes, bloating, breast tenderness, and water retention. The condition where estrogen levels are higher than progesterone levels, known as estrogen dominance, can cause menstrual cramping, fibroids, polyps, and heavy bleeding.
If estrogen remains in your body and is not metabolized, you have an increased risk of PMS and fibroids, as well as breast cancer and other estrogen-related health issues. Since estrogen can be stored in body fat, it’s important to exercise regularly. Try using IN:MOTION to keep inflammation low in your body and help relieve you of unwanted aches and pains.
Eventually our ovaries will start to make less estrogen and both progesterone and estrogen levels will begin to decrease gradually. However, estrogen often doesn’t decrease gradually but tends to dip, sometimes fluctuating from high to low within minutes. Every time estrogen shifts, it sends signals through your body that trigger many of the symptoms associated with peri-menopause and menopause, such as insomnia, night sweats, hot flashes, migraines, and mood changes.
Ultimately, ovulation ceases altogether and estrogen and progesterone levels stop cycling from low to high and instead remain low. At this point, women often experience vaginal dryness, urinary infections, joint pain, and weight gain, all of which can cause sleep disruption.
If you have estrogen dominance, your thyroid function can become suppressed, and the low levels of thyroid hormones can cause mild hypothyroidism and result in insomnia. Women with hypothyroidism, especially if in the peri-menopause age, frequently have increased insensitivity of progesterone receptors resulting in low progesterone levels.
Mild hypothyroidism can cause difficulty falling and staying asleep. When hypothyroidism is undiagnosed or under treated, adrenal glands start to work more intensively and produce an excessive amount of adrenaline in order to compensate for the low thyroid function. You may not notice the effects of excess adrenaline during the day, but at night, it can manifest as continuous worrying, fluctuating thoughts and planning, or anxiety.
I often see women with undetected low thyroid function. The thyroid is affected by stress, anxiety and diet so I often work with women to try to improve their lifestyle habits to include a whole foods diet, yoga and acupuncture.
Cortisol, aldosterone, adrenaline and epinephrine are hormones produced by the adrenal glands. During times of chronic stress, continual elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline negatively affect thyroid function, suppress the immune system, and cause sleep disturbances and insomnia, particularly in women. Adrenals and the thyroid gland are closely connected and during times of adrenal fatigue, the thyroid gland slows down the production of thyroid hormones as well. Try using IN:PEACE to lower cortisol levels and prevent resulting hormone imbalance.
To Test or Not To Test
There are some great new testing kits available today. Thanks to popular genetic testing kits like 23andMe, people are more comfortable doing their own testing, which has led to new innovate home hormone testing kits. Here are a few we think are worth it.
Suggestions for Natural Hormone Balance
- Reduce stress through meditation and gentle exercise (i.e., yoga, pilates, qi gong). If you have pain or soreness, try IN:MOTION to help get you going again.
- Try lowering exposure of stimuli such as phones, television, computers, lights, etc... and do more things in nature.
- Reducing your “to do” list and increase your self-care list.
- Improve your sleeping habits by getting into a healthy routine of going to bed early around the same time each night. Aiming for 10 is a great goal. Try using IN:DREAM to help you fall asleep easily and stay asleep longer.
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee, soda, alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, sugar and other caffeinated drinks.
- Improve your diet by eliminating simple carbohydrates and processed foods. To support healthy adrenals, cut back or eliminate foods high in refined sugars and saturated fats.
Support your adrenal glands with adaptogenic herbs, vitamins and minerals. Try IN:PEACE which is chock full of adaptogenic herbs to help you stress less.