Good Sleep for Good Health

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.

Sleeping

 

 

Sleep Inhibitors

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.

• Hyperthyroidism
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.

• Hypothyroidism
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.

Finding Sleep

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.

Thyroid Alternatives

Beyond the West

 

Western science has a lot to say about our bodies, including thyroid problems and how to treat them. If you are experiencing any symptoms that you think may be thyroid related your best option is to seek the advice of a medical professional. The information people get and the treatment they receive, from changing their diet to starting on medication or undergoing surgery, may be all they need to get relief.

 

However, many people are finding that insights from traditions outside Western or conventional medicine can supplement a treatment regimen in effective ways. In fact, the U.S. government has an agency, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which is devoted to medical care methods that fall outside traditional approaches. Alternative medicine for many provide more holistic, less invasive, and, in some cases, more spiritual paths to wellness. For many, such approaches can hold your psyche in the lap of the universe like the best baby carrier holds an infant in the lap of its mother.

Thyroid Alternatives for your lifestyleChakras

 

One of these alternative frameworks involves treating the network of energy that runs throughout the body but which is invisible to the lens of Western science. This network is made up of energy centers called chakras. By some counts there are hundreds of these vital points throughout the body but there are seven principle chakras.

 

These seven chakras lie in a line running up the spine from the area adjacent to the tailbone to the top of the head. Each chakra supplies energy to that region of the body. Medical treatments that involve the chakras consider that a particular ailment can be addressed by cleansing the chakra in that part of the body. It is interesting to note that the symbol of the medical profession, the caduceus or intertwining serpents, represents the forces of energy that travel up the spine through the chakras.

 

Within Eastern systems of thought, each of the chakras has a name, symbol, presiding deity, and can be reached through specific yoga techniques and their own chants or mantras. Though knowledge of the chakras is ancient and extremely complicated, their medical relevance stems from the fact that these whirling energy fields are linked to our body’s endocrine system. Each of the chakras corresponds to a major gland.

 

  • The first chakra is located near the tailbone. It energizes the gonads and adrenal medulla.
  • The second chakra is located near the sacrum or pelvic basin and it corresponds to the testes or ovaries.
  • The third chakra is located behind the bellybutton and controls the energy flow to the pancreas and adrenal glands.
  • The fourth chakra is situated in the heart center and its principle gland is the thymus, critical to the immune system.
  • The fifth chakra is located in the throat area and governs the thyroid.
  • The sixth chakra is located behind the brow or forehead and is linked to the pineal gland.
  • Finally, the seventh chakra, located at the crown of the head (or just above), supplies energy to the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, which links the endocrine system with the central nervous system.

 

The Thyroid Chakra

 

Those who suffer from thyroid issues may wish to focus on treating the fifth chakra, called Vishuddha. This is the energy center for self-expression, communication, and creativity. Holistic healers recommend many different kinds of gentle, safe treatment for healing the throat chakra. For example, there are guided meditations and yoga techniques, such as the camel pose, plow pose, and bridge pose, all of which target and open up the fifth chakra. There are several recommended crystals or healing stones which many believe help clear this energy center such as soladite, celestite, and turquoise. Other healing techniques involve specific foods and essential oils. There are specific affirmations, too, that can bring the kind of positive energy you need into your daily life that will help to speed up the process of healing.

 

Such techniques are not meant to compete or replace conventional forms of therapy that your doctor may prescribe. Rather they are meant to work with and supplement standard treatment. Since some of these practices, such as meditation and yoga, have been proven to reduce stress and boost the immune system, they can’t hurt to try and may even give sufferers a greater sense of control over their own healing process.