Thyroid and Sleep

Thyroid and Sleep disorders are often related. Because an overactive thyroid can overstimulate the nervous system, people with hyperthyroidism may find it difficult to fall asleep, and they may feel cold and sleepy at the time of having hypothyroidism. As you may know, sleep is a complex process that is controlled by different factors including hormones. One of the endocrine organs that produce hormones that affect sleep is the thyroid. There are two conditions that affect the thyroid: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Though the conditions are different in the way they occur, insomnia is common in both.

Thyroid and SleepThyroid and Sleep: Hormones of the Thyroid Gland

The thyroid is an endocrine gland located below the voice box. The thyroid gland together with the pituitary gland produces the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). TSH acts on the thyroid gland to produce two hormones: T3 and T4.

T3 and T4 have a great effect on the way metabolisms are carried out in the body. In general, they control how fast or slow the different organs of the body including the heart will work.  In addition, T3 and T4 determine the amount of energy that will be produced by the body.

Thyroid and Sleep: Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism, also referred overactive thyroid is a condition in which the thyroid reacts by producing extremely high levels of hormones. Due to the excess hormones produced by the thyroid, the body becomes overactive. Patients with hyperthyroidism find it difficult to relax even at night for sleep to occur.

Persons with hyperthyroidism take too long to fall asleep and when they do it becomes difficult to maintain. Due to the increased energy levels, an overactive thyroid is associated with sleepwalking. Sleepwalking is not only dangerous but also wastes time that could be spent in a deeper level of sleep.

In this disease, the pulse rate and blood pressure are increased.   These two processes need the energy to be active. In addition, the general rate of metabolism is increased.  It, therefore, follows that such a person wakes up tired and are less likely to be refreshed by sleep. Here are some of the symptoms of an overactive thyroid:

  • Weight loss due to overactivity and increased metabolism.
  • Rapid pulse rate.
  • Goiter or enlarged neck.
  • Fatigue and general muscle weakness.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Increased sensitivity to heat.

Hypothyroidism, also referred to as an under-active thyroid is the exact opposite of hyperthyroidism. In this condition, the thyroid gland produces fewer hormones. Consequently, the body is under-active. In severe cases, the body can be so inactive causing the person to sleep at any place. They also experience daytime sleepiness that in turn affects the patterns of sleep at night.  These people are more likely to develop sleep apnea.  Here are some of the symptoms of an under-active thyroid:

  • Weight gain due to reduced activity and low metabolism.
  • Fatigue.
  • Abnormal sensitivity to heat.
  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Goiter may occur as the thyroid glad attempts to increase hormone production.
  • Joint pain and brittle fingernails.

Thyroid and Sleep: Coping and Treatment

Treatment for thyroid and sleep depends on the severity of the condition. The first step to treating your thyroid and sleep problems is to bring your thyroid hormones back within their normal range. Hormone therapy is one of the options. With thyroid condition, you need to stick to the prescribed. Here are some coping tips for people with thyroid conditions in order to maintain good sleep:

  • Ensure that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid stimulants such as tea, alcohol, and coffee.
  • Eat foods rich in Iodine are it helps prevent goiter.
  • Ensure that you are well fed at all times to reduce fatigue and exhaustion.

Thyroid and Sleep Video Education