Hormones and sleep, the deep connection

Hormones and sleep

Hormones and sleep have a very deep connection. Since there are many hormones involved in regulating our sleep-wake cycle, any imbalance in them can result in sleeplessness. Insomnia hormone imbalance is both a cause as well as an effect. While hormonal imbalance causes sleep deprivation, when you have a huge sleep debt, it will further aggravate the hormone imbalance. Understanding the connection between the two is a good place to start solving your sleep problem. 

Our hormones act as messages that tell the body what it needs to do. There are hormones that cause growth, some that are responsible for reproduction, and others that guide the body on what to do when stressed. Adrenaline is one such hormone that prepares us for action. Whenever we are in danger, it kicks in to prepare us for the fight or flight response. The other important hormones are endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, collectively called happy hormones. Every time these hormones are released, you experience joy. In today’s post, however, we will specifically look at hormones that affect sleep

Hormones and sleep 

Hormones that put us to sleep 

When the sun sets, and in the absence of bright lights from devices, our brain releases a hormone called melatonin which is responsible for making us sleepy. Melatonin signals to us that it is time to go to sleep. This is why the difficulty falling asleep is associated with blue light from electronic devices. To ensure you fall asleep faster, try to avoid these devices at least an hour before bed, helping your body prepare itself for sleep. 

Hormones that wake us up 

While there is a hormone that puts us to sleep, we have another one that wakes us up every morning. A hormone called cortisol begins to dip in the night as melatonin levels increase in the body. However, throughout our sleep cortisol levels rise and reach its peak in the morning, when we are woken up. 

How the male hormone affects sleep 

Testosterone, or the male hormone, reaches its highest level three hours into your sleep. Imbalance in testosterone is associated with sleeplessness. A dip in this hormone can occur due to a number of reasons, the most common being physical ill-health and old age. The hormone imbalance directly affects sleep quality and the number of sleep hours

How female hormones affect sleep 

Menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause affect sleep in women due to the hormones released during these bodily changes. The premenstrual drop in progesterone is related to a drop in levels of melatonin, making it difficult for the sleeper to fall asleep. The sleep stage that is worst hit by this drop is the REM sleep when most of our dreams occur. This further causes irritation and stress due to a lack of proper sleep. 

During pregnancy, the increase in estrogen, as well as progesterone, can wreak havoc on one’s sleep. An increase in these hormones causes daytime sleepiness, nasal swelling, and snoring. During menopause, there is a dip in estrogen which again causes sleep difficulties. Women in this stage of their lives also suffer from sleep apnea, which is stopping of breath during sleep and can be very dangerous. To prevent fat from accumulating around the throat and the stomach, which causes sleep apnea, regular exercise is recommended.  

To learn about what affects sleep and how to deal with it, keep following this space. 

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