Ask anyone who has experienced the negative side effects of insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea or any kind of sleep disorder how important a good night’s rest is and they’ll tell you that the importance cannot be overstated. Research has shown that ongoing sleep deprivation will eventually result in compromised mental alertness, memory loss and susceptibility to illnesses. All that’s hard enough on healthy individuals, but for people with chronic conditions, the effects of sleep disturbances are even more pronounced. And rectifying the situation is not just a matter of buying the best mattress topper for an added layer of comfort, although that couldn’t hurt. Sometimes getting a restful sleep requires extra effort.
Thyroid disease qualifies as a chronic condition that can affect a person’s ability to sleep well night after night. As you know, the thyroid gland produces hormones, and when it’s functioning well, it sends signals that daytime is an energy-filled period, and nighttime is when the body relaxes and recoups in preparation for the next day. However, for 20 million Americans, that cycles is thrown off because the thyroid is either producing too many hormones or not enough, both of which can change your sleep quality.
An overactive thyroid pumps out hormones in excess of what’s needed, and as a result, the body’s energy sources are also out of balance. A person with hyperthyroidism may experience irritability or nervousness, even when trying to fall asleep. On those nights, the body just seems too wound up to be able to relax. Unfortunately, this can lead to insomnia or problems staying asleep because your body wants to move, which wakes you up frequently.
An underactive thyroid does not produce enough hormones, and as you might expect, the lack of hormones has the opposite effect on energy levels. Instead of being wound up, you feel fatigued and lackluster, especially during the day. Unfortunately, that tiredness doesn’t automatically mean you’ll fall fast asleep in the evening. What’s more, there’s evidence suggesting a link between hypothyroidism and sleep apnea, or interruptions in breathing while sleeping. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition and frequently requires sufferers to wear a breathing apparatus while sleeping.
Not only are sleep disturbances annoying, but if they go on for more than just a day or two, then you could fall into a repetitive and unhealthy cycle.
The good news is you can psych yourself up for a sweet slumber.
1. Discuss the situation with your physician and get tested for sleep apnea.
2. Take your medications to help regulate the thyroid.
3. Meditate or practice yoga before bed. The focus on breathing will help your body transition into a relaxed state.
4. Create a routine, such as bathing every night or climbing into bed at the same time to train your brain that sleep is on its way.
5. Turn off electronics. Sleep experts say these devices interfere with sound sleeping patterns.
With a little extra effort, you don’t have to let thyroid disease ruin a good night’s sleep.