How your hormone health impacts your sleep

Sleep is the one thing that has played a huge part in my healing journey. I underestimated just how crucial it was to my health. I had sloppy boundaries around it. If there was a deadline for something to do, sleep would have to be the sacrifice. But I’ve learnt my lesson the hard way and now prioritise because:

  1. It REALLY helps your immune system. Those who sleep just 5 hours a night are 4 times more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep for 8 hours

  2. A good night’s sleep is good for your waistline because chronic lack of a full night’s sleep impairs insulin function and contributes to the visceral (around the tummy) fat accumulation.

  3. Sleep increases glucose metabolism and controls blood sugar better, so fewer cravings the next day

  4. Activates cellular repair and mends injury, you literally you heal while you sleep

  5. Sleep normalises cortisol levels during the day, this is a big one, because as we know cortisol is a very bossy hormone we need to respect and keep in check!

So what is cortisol, why does it impact our sleep?
It’s a hormone that responds in times of stress, but it also regulates blood sugar, reduces inflammation, regulates your metabolism and memory.
Cortisol is at its highest between 6 am and 7 am, it’s what gives you the drive to get out of bed and start your day.
Cortisol levels naturally decline throughout the day, helping you to deal with whatever life throws at you during the daytime until it is time to go to bed. It is at its lowest point from about 11 pm for the rest of the night.

As Cortisol is linked to our stress response it doesn’t take much for that natural rise and fall to be disrupted, this impacts on our overall wellbeing.

Do you ever feel stressed and wired? As in, it’s 9pm at night and you suddenly get a burst of energy, but underlying it is that buzzy anxious feeling? You might experience hot flushes, sleep disturbances, can’t shift weight around the middle? This could point to elevated cortisol.
Or, do you feel stressed and tired, you’re exhausted much of the time, have a low tolerance to cold temperatures, crave caffeine, salt and sugar. These symptoms could point to low cortisol.

This is something we need to address as cortisol dysfunction will always interrupt our sleep.

So what can we do to help ourselves?

  1. Winding down rituals: whether you prefer meditation, a bath, a face cleansing routine or stroking the dog. Whatever it is, prioritise that hour before bed just for these rituals. Write down 5 different things you know would relax you, so you always have an option to choose from

  2. Calming nutrients may be helpful for sleep and your nervous system – L Theanine, passionflower, valerian, and magnesium can be beneficial 1-2 hours prior to sleep

  3. Exposure to natural light in the morning – When we get outside in the morning, we establish our circadian rhythm, letting our body know that it’s time to be awake, which then sets the stage for when it’s time to be asleep. This works whether the sun is out or not

  4. Blocking blue light during the day. Blue light inhibits the production of melatonin, our primary sleep hormone. Invest in some blue light blockers. With the prevalence of all the screens in our lives from TV to smartphones and everything in between, these glasses are a must. I use these ones: https://tinyurl.com/tdl34au

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