How Hormones Affect Sleep
The human body carries several different hormones that fluctuate with the time of day, our sleeping patterns, when we eat, and our overall lifestyle. There are an abundant amount of hormones in our body that are influenced by when and how much we sleep, including growth hormones, melatonin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and thyroid-stimulating hormones.
The Circadian Rhythm
Every person lives in accordance with their circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock that controls body functions throughout the day, including:
- The sleep-wake cycle
The hypothalamus gland in our brain serves to keep track of light and darkness, physical activity, and when meals are eaten. It reacts to natural neural and hormonal signals that cycle throughout the day.
Maintaining a consistent circadian rhythm is crucial to your health, as circadian disruptions cause impaired glucose and lipid homeostasis, a loss of clock gene rhythmicity, and a reversal of melatonin and cortisol rhythms.
Circadian disruptions occur due to inconsistent eating and sleeping patterns. The hormonal imbalance can increase your risk of developing numerous diseases, such as obesity, insulin insensitivity, diabetes, and appetite dysregulation.
Throughout the day, sunlight stops your pineal gland from producing any melatonin, which is a natural sleep-inducing hormone. Though melatonin is blocked from being produced, a sleep-causing chemical called adenosine increases in the brain during prolonged wakefulness. Once it gets dark out, the accumulated adenosine paired with melatonin causes us to become sleepy.
While we sleep, our adenosine levels go back down, while other hormones become active. During sleep, our growth hormones are increased, which influences our height and helps to build our bones and muscles. In the night, our thyroid-stimulating hormone also reaches its maximum concentration, which is essential to regulating weight, body temperature, muscle strength, and mood.
How Menopause Affects Sleep
Menopause is when a woman’s menstrual cycles naturally come to an end, signifying a time of major hormonal, physical, and psychological change for women. Menopause begins one year after menstrual periods have stopped, typically around the age of 52. Other symptoms of menopause include:
- Diminished libido
- Mood changes
- Hot flashes
During this time, a woman’s ovaries decrease the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and these hormonal changes drastically affect a woman’s sleep patterns.
Progesterone can affect breathing, meaning lower levels of the hormone can cause sleep apnea and other associated sleep issues.
Estrogen is also involved in bodily processes, and can
- Affect the metabolism of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that impact our sleep-wake cycle
- Keep our body temperature low at night
- Have an antidepressant effect
Since estrogen levels decrease in women during menopause, women may experience higher body temperatures at night, lower quality sleep, and a poorer mood.
Andropause (male menopause) also affects men during a time when their testosterone development begins to slow down. Low testosterone levels can lead to depression, weight gain, reduced energy levels, and even sleep problems.
Contact Outset Health Today
Outset Health was founded to help patients understand what their body needs so that they can take control of their wellness. If you would like to learn more about a healthy balance of hormones to regulate your sleeping patterns, contact us here or call (866) 634-8560.