Part of the solution is simple when it comes to fighting the fatigue that often accompanies hypothyroidism, a common type of thyroid disease. But understanding what to do and then doing it are different, many people still don’t get the sleep they deserve. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, but a 2013 Gallup survey found that 40 percent of Americans don’t rest nearly as much.
What is the link between hypothyroidism and fatigue?
Hypothyroidism is a deficiency in thyroid hormones that causes many bodily functions to slow down. “Thyroid hormones help regulate metabolism, determine heart rate and are also involved in the function of virtually every organ system in the entire body,” says Kristine Arthur, MD, an internist in Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif. “Since thyroid hormones are involved in numerous bodily processes, when they’re reduced you can have both daylight and nighttime symptoms, including fatigue during the day and inadequate sleep at night.”
Besides causing daytime fatigue, hypothyroidism increases the risk of developing sleeping disorders. “Approximately 30 percent of individuals with hypothyroidism also have sleep apnea,” says Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Ariz. and author of Sleep Soundly Every Night; Feel Fantastic Daily. “In this group of people, it’s the drop in oxygen and the struggle to breathe against a closed airway which disrupts their sleep.” Hypothyroidism also prevents the deepest, most important sleep, Dr. Rosenberg says. This may be an additional contributor to daytime fatigue in people with hypothyroidism, ” he says.
Get Better Sleep With Hypothyroidism
The very first step in treating fatigue and sleep issues in hypothyroidism is to balance their thyroid hormones. “First, anyone with known or suspected hypothyroidism needs to have their hormone levels checked and managed carefully by a healthcare professional,” Dr. Arthur states. “This has to be achieved by a qualified and experienced specialist. You should not attempt to improve thyroid function by yourself with over-the-counter supplements or medications.” It’s also important to remember that if your medication dose is too large, you might start to experience sleeplessness.
Beyond treating the root cause of hypothyroidism, Rosenberg says the best advice for getting better sleep is the same as it is for anyone that occasionally or regularly lies awake at night. Here are some tips
- Keep your bedroom cool. “A comfortable bedroom temperature is important, especially as you are in the process of having your thyroid regulated,” Rosenberg says. He proposes placing your thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve the ideal temperature for comfort.
- Simulate the night. “Try turning down all lights at least an hour before you go to bed,” Arthur says. Keep your bedroom dark and cover all of bright/flashing lights. “Darkness helps with natural melatonin production,” she says.
- Calm down. “A relaxing pre-sleep routine is among the most essential things you can do to help facilitate good sleep,” Arthur says. “Have a warm bath with relaxing scents like lavender, read a favourite book (maybe not an e-book with a backlit screen), or listen to relaxing music,” she states.
- Sleep in a comfy bed. “If your mattress is over seven years old, it can lead to a issue,” Rosenberg says. Make sure that your mattress is comfortable and supports a good night’s rest.
- Avoid nighttime feasts. Indulging in a large meal close to bedtime can disrupt sleep, as can eating something uncommon. Avoid foods or drinks with caffeine, such as coffee or chocolate and spicy dishes if you are struggling with sleep difficulties as these can make rest even more difficult.
- Have a small snack. “Eating a little something with a combination of protein and carbohydrates, such as whole crackers and peanut butter, until bed can help keep blood glucose balanced overnight,” Arthur says.
- De-stress. One of the biggest contributors to sleep issues is stress, and rather than shutting their eyes when they climb right into bed, a lot of people tend to lay in bed and think. To address these issues in a beneficial way, try practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or writing in a journal.
If you continue to struggle with sleep difficulties, speak with your healthcare professional in order to determine the root cause of your sleeplessness and fatigue to help you get the top quality rest you deserve.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Wellness
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