Quick! Glance at the clock. What time is it?
Are you reading this while you’re supposed to be sleeping?
If you are, you’re not alone. Insomnia is actually one of the most common complaints Americans bring to their doctors. What you may not know is that it’s also a common side effect of thyroid disorders.
Good sleep is essential for good health. Sleep helps our brains function properly and helps regulate our emotions, it helps heal your heart and blood vessels, and it helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that regulate your appetite. (Source)
Insomnia and your thyroid
So how is sleep (or lack thereof) related to your thyroid?
Numerous studies have shown that insomnia is linked to nutritional deficiencies, specifically certain vitamins and minerals. When you have thyroid problems, you also have gut problems, and gut problems mean that your body is not absorbing all the nutrients it needs from your food.
I feel a little like I’m preaching to the choir here, but once again: it’s all about your gut!
Another possible cause for insomnia happens when your cortisol levels are out of whack. Cortisol is the “stress” hormone produced by your adrenal glands. It’s naturally higher in the morning, when we need to wake up, and lower in the evening when it’s time to go to sleep.
If your adrenals are overstressed, however, they could be releasing cortisol at all times of the day and night, making it difficult to fall asleep. High levels of cortisol in the body decrease thyroid function, so these kinds of problems go hand in hand.
Design your life to banish insomnia
Clearly, insomnia is a symptom of a much bigger problem — and it can contribute to other serious problems like brain fog, depression, and weight gain.
Yet many of my clients don’t seem to prioritize sleep. How many times have I heard that someone is used to “getting by” on only six, five, or four hours of sleep a night. Lemme just point out — that’s insanity! Studies consistently show that adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night for optimum health and wellbeing.
So how do we get there?
First let’s be clear: I’m know we all want to sleep better…that we’ve all spent countless nights tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling. It’s not that we don’t want to sleep but sometimes we’re not making it a priority.
That’s why, I’m calling attention to the fact that you need to be proactive and do something about it. And that something is not popping a pill to help you sleep, and introducing more chemicals into your already overburdened body.
The solution is all about designing your life to be conducive to proper sleep. Below, I’ve got some suggestions for how to make good sleep habits a part of your entire day!
Start your day with some light exercise. I recommend yoga, tai chi, or qi gong to many of my clients for the positive physical and mental benefits. The National Sleep Foundation shows that exercise is excellent at battling chronic insomnia.
Meditate. Even for five minutes! Mindfulness as a stress-reduction technique has shown to help reduce insomnia. (Source)
Skip the caffeine. It’s not good for your adrenals and it’s been shown as a possible cause for insomnia.
Eat two Brazil nuts with breakfast. Brazil nuts are a wonderful natural source of selenium, an important mineral for regulating sleep.
During your day:
Take back your time. One of the most effective practices for stress reduction that I teach my clients is ninja time management — that means chopping out any activities that aren’t essential to your day. Find ways to reduce your stress through taking control of your time.
Get outside.Vitamin D is another vital nutrient for sleep regulation, so just getting a little sun every day is a wonderful way to improve your sleep. If you have trouble getting outside find a whole food or bio-available vitamin D supplement.
Eat foods rich in vitamin A. These include sweet potatoes and leafy greens. Leafy greens can have goitrogenic properties, so it’s best to steam them or cook them well before eating if you have problems with them.
In the evening:
Eat a high-protein evening meal. You know the turkey coma we all get after Thanksgiving dinner? It’s caused by tryptophan, which helps the body produce melatonin and serotonin necessary for sleep.
Have some cherries for dessert. Sour cherries (especially Montmorency) can also help boost the body’s supply of melatonin.
Drink a small cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile is a classic soothing natural sleep aid.
Have an epsom salts bath with lavender. The warm bath will help your body relax (and detoxify!) and the lavender is a wonderful aromatherapy scent for relaxation.
Turn off your devices at least 1 hour before bed. The blue lights from electronic devices can stimulate your brain to wake up. (Plus, anything you might read — like work emails — that could stress you out isn’t helping.
Go to bed at the same time every night. Having a set bedtime lets your body become accustomed to a routine, and you’ll find you feel sleepy at the same time every night.
If you implement these strategies into your day, I can practically guarantee that you’ll see an improvement in your sleeplessness in no time. While this isn’t a quick fix, it will help you sleep peacefully in the long-term.
If you’re desperate to get some sleep right away try these out and consider joining the Thyroid Fix in 6 or work with a qualified naturopathic, functional, integrative practitioner or health coach to learn what additional supplements might be right for you.
Whether you’re struggling with insomnia or any other symptom, I provide a ton of resources on healing your thyroid naturally, including:
- Our totally free Thyroid Healing Type Assessment, Report and Coaching Sessions
- Right here on my blog, where I talk about what’s worked best for me and my clients, as well as the latest research and resources I come across. You can subscribe to get new blog posts delivered right to your email by signing up on the righthand side of the page.
- My book, Healing Hashimohto’s Naturally — part memoir, part instruction manual for how I personally healed my Hashimoto’s disease.
- My exclusive free 6 Thyroid Myths That Can Keep You From Healing workshop — with info on the comprehensive Thyroid Fix in 6 program, which walks you through, step-by-step, the exact actions you need to take to heal your thyroid and get your life back! We’ve seen hundreds of participants in the Thyroid Fix in 6 avoid, decrease, or even eliminate the need need for thyroid medications.
- The incredible Your Best Thyroid Life Video Bundle, in which I personally invited 27 of the world’s top health experts to share their best tips for living with and healing thyroid disease.
Remember, implementing small daily strategies will almost guarantee that you’ll see an improvement in your health and your life!
Jen Wittman is a Certified Holistic Health Expert, Chef, Author & Vitality Coach, who teaches women how to reverse thyroid and autoimmune conditions naturally. She’s helped hundreds of women decrease (or even eliminate) their thyroid medications and has helped others stay off thyroid medication entirely.
Through her free Thyroid Healing Type Assessment, Jen teaches easy and simple steps to thyroid healing that can fit into your busy day. She also provides print outs to bring to your next doctor’s appointment so you can get the support and respect you deserve.