4 (TREATABLE) Causes of Sleep Disruption that You’re Probably Not Thinking About!
Lets’ face it, in a society that thrives on being busy, lots of people struggle with sleep. For some people there just aren’t enough hours in the day. For others there are obvious behaviours that are affecting us like too much coffee, alcohol, stress, TV in bed…..the list goes on and on. But, sometimes women are doing everything right to improve their sleep and nothing is working. In these women, there may be an underlying condition that is causing you to lose sleep or not wake as rested.
Peri-menopausal/Menopausal Hormone Changes
- Studies have shown that hormone changes that happen with menopause can affect sleep directly and indirectly. These changes can cause physical symptoms that disrupt sleep like hot flashes and night sweats, and/or frequent urination. They can also cause new-onset depression or anxiety that can affect sleep. And in some women, these hormone fluctuations can cause sleep disruptions un-related to other symptoms.
- It is important to note that hormone-related sleep issues can start when you are still cycling and before your estrogen levels are undetectable. If you are in your 40’s and you are experiencing new-onset insomnia or worsening insomnia it may be peri-menopause.
- Thyroid hormone levels that are too high or too low can cause sleep issues.
- Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones) usually feel like no amount of sleep is enough to feel rested. It will often take them longer to fall asleep. They may also have cold intolerance, or joint or muscle pain that will keep them up or wake them in the night. In addition, hypothyroidism itself will cause fatigue compounding that feeling of never getting enough sleep, or fogginess during the day.
- Hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormones) can cause difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep due to nervousness, and/or heart palpitations. It can also cause night sweats, and frequent urges to urinate which can cause waking, once they actually fall asleep.
- Thyroid conditions in general can also predispose patients to restless leg syndrome (RLS) which can be another contributing factor to sleep disturbance.
- With thyroid conditions, patients can notice symptoms for years before their thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) reflects a problem. Additionally, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can present like depression and be misdiagnosed for years. Therefore, having a full thyroid panel is important for appropriate assessment.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Iron deficiency anemia, has been associated with insomnia in adults and children. Patients with anemia are more likely to have difficulty falling asleep and seem to wake too early in the morning. Iron deficiency will also result in feeling tired, distracted, anxious and affect mood on its own, therefore exacerbating the effect of sleep deprivation.
- Additionally, people with low levels of iron are significantly more likely to have RLS.
- It is estimated that 20% of non-pregnant women and 50% of pregnant woman have iron-deficiency anemia. This doesn’t count the women that go undiagnosed with dramatically low ferritin levels.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Though it seems obvious that sleep apnea would be considered in cases of sleep disturbances and fatigue, it is often missed because many people with sleep apnea don’t necessarily know that they are waking, or will blame external factors for waking them.
- Two giveaway symptoms here are snoring, daytime tiredness even with a full night sleep (it’s game over as soon as you sit down). However, even people who do not identify as snorers can have sleep apnea.
- A common misconception is that you have to be obese to have sleep apnea which is NOT TRUE.
- Menopause increases the risk of sleep apnea in women adding to the list of sleep troubles that women in this category can experience.
- The only way to be properly assessed for this is to have a sleep study!
Sleep is incredibly important to overall health. Insomnia can increase risk of mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, memory issues and trouble with concentration, weight gain, and more obviously fatigue/ generally feeling unwell. There are many behavioural strategies and dietary changes that can be made to improve sleep. However, underlying conditions should always be ruled out! Don’t just accept that “I have always been a poor sleeper,” or “I haven’t been able to sleep since I had my children,” there may be something under the surface that is missing.
If you are having trouble sleeping and suspect that there might be something else going on, book your free alignment call with one of our staff to see how we can help you!
Book your free Alignment Call HERE.
Dr. Lisa Maddalena, ND