Can Your Thyroid Cause Sleep Problems
Thyroid imbalances have been linked to sleep problems. Hyperthyroidism can cause difficulty sleeping due to arousals from nervousness or irritability, as well as muscle weakness and constant feelings of tiredness. An overactive thyroid may also lead to night sweats and frequent urges to urinate, both of which can disrupt sleep.
People with hypothyroidism , on the other hand, often experience trouble tolerating cold at night and joint or muscle pain that disrupts sleep. Some studies have linked an underactive thyroid to poor quality sleep, longer sleep onset or the time it takes to fall asleep and shorter sleep duration during the night. Younger people, individuals with a relatively low body mass index, and women are all considered at higher risk of developing sleep problems due to hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can also cause hypersomnia, or the irrepressible need to sleep or lapses into sleep that occur on a daily basis. Hypersomnia can occur due to an underlying medical disorder, and hypothyroidism is considered the leading cause of hypersomnia due to a disorder in the endocrine system. Additionally, untreated hypothyroidism can be mistaken for sleep-related hypoventilation, or excessively slow or shallow breathing that occurs primarily during sleep.
What Is A Safe Tsh Level
The normal range of TSH levels is 0.4 to 4.0 milli-international units per liter. If youre already being treated for a thyroid disorder, the normal range is 0.5 to 3.0 milli-international units per liter. A value above the normal range usually indicates that the thyroid is underactive. This indicates hypothyroidism.
Tips For Better Sleep With Thyroid Issues
People with thyroid disease who experience sleep loss or disturbances may find relief by taking certain measures.
For many, finding the right bedroom temperature is key. Many experts agree that 65 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal sleep temperature for most people. However, those with thyroid disease may feel differently, as hyperthyroidism can cause night sweats and hypothyroidism can decrease your tolerance to the cold. The range of 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is considered reasonable, and you may find your preferred temperature falls outside this range if you live with thyroid disease.
Practicing good sleep hygiene can also improve your sleep quality whether or not you have a thyroid condition. Sleep hygiene refers to practices and habits that promote consistent, uninterrupted and restorative sleep. These include going to bed and waking up at the same times , avoiding electronic devices for up to an hour before bed, and winding down in the evening with soft music, light stretching, and other relaxing activities.
A healthy diet is also crucial for sleep hygiene. Heavy meals leading up to bedtime can be disruptive to sleep, so its better to opt for light snacks instead. People with thyroid issues should pay particular attention to their iodine intake, as too much or too little iodine in ones diet can affect thyroid activity. You may also want to avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before bed, as both of these substances can disrupt sleep.
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What Causes Thyroid Disease
Our bodies operate on a 24-hour cycle known as circadian rhythm, which is regulated by the master circadian clock located in a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus located in the hypothalamus.
The SCN releases different hormones that help maintain balance in the body and control different bodily functions, including your sleep-wake cycle. One of these hormones, thyrotropin, stimulates the thyroid to trigger the release of thyroid hormones. If the thyroid is overactive or underactive, this can interfere with thyrotropin production and your overall circadian rhythm.
The condition known as hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones. According to current U.S. estimates, 1 in 20 people aged 12 and older have hypothyroidism. These patients are often treated with artificial thyroid hormones.
Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, affects about 1 in 100 people in the U.S. This condition arises when the thyroid produces an excessive amount of hormones. Patients with hyperthyroidism are often prescribed medications that lower their thyroid hormone levels.
Lastly, iodine intake can play a role in thyroid health. The thyroid gland uses iodine to produce hormones, so an inadequate or excessive amount of iodine in your diet can contribute to thyroid disease.
What Are The Different Types Of Thyroid Blood Tests
Thyroid function tests are a set of blood tests used to measure how well your thyroid gland is working. They help detect an overactive or underactive thyroid gland and also give hints about other related conditions. There are three main types of thyroid blood tests:
- TSH test: A thyroid stimulating hormone is not released by the thyroid gland. It is made in the pituitary gland in the brain. When thyroid levels in your body get low, the pituitary gland makes more TSH which serves as a signal for the thyroid gland to compensate and release more thyroid hormones. When thyroid levels are high, the pituitary gland makes less TSH. Hence, the TSH levels that are too high or too low can tell if your thyroid is working well.
- T4 test: Measures the blood level of the hormone T4 .
- T3 test: Measures the other major thyroid hormone T3 in the blood.
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Coffee And Thyroid Hormone Absorption
Many people love coffee. But, one of the things that many people dont know is that coffee can impair the absorption of thyroid medications, and thus, it needs to be spaced out from thyroid medications.
A person with normal digestive function can take thyroid medications 15-30 minutes prior to breakfast and have the medications be well absorbed, but some people may need to postpone breakfast by a minimum of 60 minutes after taking thyroid medications, for proper absorption.
As far as coffee and thyroid meds go, Italian researchers found that their first-thing-in-the-morning-espresso-loving patients did not absorb their thyroid medications correctly. This is because coffee lowers the intestinal absorption of both inorganic and organic compounds, and seems to physically interact with thyroid medications.
In another Italian study, one person who was drinking espresso within 10 minutes of thyroid medications, had a consistently elevated TSH between 13 IU/mL and 18 IU/mL. The same person, on the same dose of medication, was later made to wait one hour to have her coffee, and took her medication with a full glass of water instead. With this new change, her TSH was now testing between to 0.03-0.1IU/mL every time she had it tested.
While most of the studies on coffee and thyroid hormone absorption have been done with levothyroxine, anecdotally, people taking T3 and natural dessicated thyroid hormones can also have a problem with absorbing them if theyre taking them with coffee.
You Eat A Lot Of Fiber
A high-fiber diet is a good thing! But if youve recently changed your diet and added more high-fiber foods, know that they can interfere with your bodys absorption of your thyroid medications. Talk to your provider about how to manage this. It could mean spacing out when you eat and when you take your medications. Examples of popular high-fiber foods include:
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Timing Thyroid Medications For Optimal Lab Results
Optimally absorbing your thyroid medication will help to ensure the body is getting adequate thyroid hormone, and may improve results when you do test your labs. However, even if you are getting adequate thyroid hormone and the body is absorbing it, there are factors that may lead to abnormal lab results, and steps you can take that will ensure accuracy.
The first step to consider is when to take thyroid medications, if you are planning on heading to the lab. The timing of your thyroid medication may affect the accuracy of your thyroid test results, depending on what type of thyroid medication it is.
The recommendations for timing thyroid meds differ depending on the type of medication you take. Lets dive into the recommendations for each type of medication.
Thyroid Levels During Pregnancy
Thyroid hormone levels change during pregnancy. In fact, the ranges considered normal also change throughout pregnancy. What is considered normal may be slightly different depending on the lab where you get your blood test.
Thyroid levels are measured in milliunits per liter and picomoles per liter . A mole is a way to measure large amounts of very small things like atoms and molecules. A picomole is one-trillionth of a mole.
Normal ranges for non-pregnant people are as follows:
- TSH: 0.5-4.7 mIU/L
- Free T4 : 8.0-18 pmol/L
- Free T3 : 2.30-4.2 pmol/L
Normal ranges for pregnant people are different:
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It Can Contribute To Insomnia And Poor Sleep
A study showed that 400mg of caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects though this can be dependent on the individual and their ability to metabolise caffeine.
It is often recommend that we avoid consuming caffeine after lunch time, in order to promote a better nights sleep.
As explained above, caffeine also often contribute to adrenal issues, and a key sign of adrenal dysfunction includes trouble getting to sleep and/or staying asleep.
All thyroid patients can benefit from going caffeine-free to see if/how it affects them.
People who give up caffeine tend to report better sleep, less headaches, fewer hot flashes, less anxiety, and less hypothyroid and digestive issues.
I realised that caffeine was contributing to my migraines, so I cut it out, and havent looked back since.
However, many thyroid patients also state that they feel fine on coffee, so it really can be individual. Coffee is not something that usually needs to be avoided for life by most of us with hypothyroidism or Hashimotos. Many of us can enjoy it in reasonable amounts, though may benefit from avoiding it when overcoming adrenal issues or oestrogen dominance, and reintroducing it after these are addressed.
Does Coffee Contain Mold And Toxins
There is some evidence that some brands of coffee may contain mold, which can be an issue for autoimmune and thyroid diseases, as well as those with mold sensitivities. In fact, one particular mycotoxin , ochratoxin A, is found in low levels in most coffee samples . Ochratoxin A has previously been associated with kidney disease and tumors of the urethra in humans. It has also been associated with cancer, brain damage, and hypertension, and can have immunosuppressive effects.
Coffee, especially instant varieties, can also contain toxins like acrylamide. Most people with Hashimotos have an overburdened liver and an impaired ability to eliminate toxins, which is why my healing protocol always begins with liver support and eliminating toxins. Our food, water, personal care products assault our bodies with harmful toxins on a daily basis, so adding to that burden with contaminated coffee will only exacerbate the problem.
That said, there are brands out there that claim to be free of such toxins. I personally like the Bulletproof coffee brand I mentioned above because it was developed by Dave Asprey, a Hashimotos patient who has made sure his coffee is gluten-free and free of mold. It is also tested for toxins.
Full disclosure Dave has sent me some of his coffee for Christmas in the past, and Im hoping he will send me more this year, but thats not why Im recommending his coffee. ? I also buy it myself when he forgets to send me free samples.
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Which Drugs Can Modify Thyroid Hormone Metabolism
Use of certain drugs may result in altered thyroid hormone metabolism and require higher doses of replacement LT4 to achieve a normal TSH.
Increased hepatic enzymes from certain antiepileptic medications and the antibiotic, rifampicin, may reduce the half-lives of T4 and T3
Imatinib is thought to increase the hepatic metabolism of thyroid hormone
Drugs that increase thyroxine binding globulin levels will reduce the availability of FT4
Amiodarone impairs the peripheral de-iodination of T4, and therefore, the conversion of T4 to T3
Glucocorticoids and some beta blockers at high doses can also inhibit T4 toT3 de-iodination, although these changes are not usually clinically relevant
What Should I Take Care Of After Getting Tested For Thyroid Hormones
Once the blood sample for thyroid test is drawn, you can return to normal activities, including driving. A simple thing that you can follow is to avoid strenuous activity with the arm from where the sample was taken for a few hours after the test. If you experience any pain or bleeding, apply ice packs
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Eat Selenium Tyrosine And Antioxidants Rich Food
Thyroid patients must have foods with Vitamin B such as crab, shellfish, brazil nuts, kidney and liver. These foods contain Selenium- an enzyme that converts T4 to T3. Tyrosine-based food includes almonds, sesame seeds, oats, etc. Antioxidants rich food includes all fresh vegetables and fruits. These kinds of food will reduce inflammation and help enhance health.
What Is The Menstrual Cycle
Menstruation is part of the menstrual cycle and helps the body prepare for the possibility of pregnancy. The first day of the cycle is the first day that bleeding occurs. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. However, a cycle can range anywhere from 23 days to 35 days.
Hormones in the body rise and fall during your cycle. Among those hormones are estrogen and progesterone, made in the ovaries, in addition to the follicle-stimulating hormone, or luteinizing hormone, made by the pituitary gland.
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How To Test Your Thyroid Function
You can test your thyroid function using a blood sample. The two main ways to collect a blood sample are:
- a venous blood test a trained professional will use a needle to puncture a vein, usually in your arm, to collect a blood sample.
- a finger-prick blood test using a lancet, you can prick your own finger and collect a small blood sample.
How It Affects The Heart
Aside from the risk of eventually developing frank hypothyroidism, the chief worry with subclinical hypothyroidism is that it is associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Several studies have now shown an association between high TSH levels and the development of coronary artery disease . In a pooled analysis of several clinical studies which included more than 25,000 patients, subclinical hypothyroidism was associated with an increased incidence of heart attack, symptomatic CAD, and cardiac death. Another pooled analysis found a significantly increased risk of heart failure in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. And several studies have associated subclinical hypothyroidism with increased cholesterol levels.
While an association does not prove cause-and-effect, it is notable that overt hypothyroidism certainly does produce significant cardiac disease. This fact gives credence to the idea that subclinical hypothyroidism may also negatively impact the heart. The increase in cardiac risk seen with subclinical hypothyroidism is indeed the most worrisome feature of this condition.
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The Change We Resist The Most Is Often The Change We Need The Most
Many people who have made extensive dietary changes will admit that coffee was the last and hardest thing to eliminate from their diets. Coffee is our ritual its our best friend.
But is it really? It is often said that the change we resist the most is the change our body needs the most. Let your intuition be your guide.
Fasting And Thyroid Test Results
Studies have shown that time of day and fasting can affect your results. If you test in the early morning after overnight fasting, the results may show higher levels. This is compared to tests done later in the day with no fasting.
This condition is diagnosed and monitored based solely on TSH. T4 and T3 levels are usually normal.
If you get your blood test in the afternoon when you have not been fasting, your TSH levels will be lower. Because of this, your subclinical hypothyroidism may be missed.
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When To See A Doctor
Hypothyroidism develops slowly, so many people wont notice their symptoms for years. It also shares symptoms with a wide range of other medical conditions, so your doctor will likely order additional testing. The same is true of hyperthyroidism and most diagnoses for an overactive thyroid also entail multiple blood tests. For many older patients, hyperthyroidism can present differently and may be mistaken for depression or dementia because it can cause similar symptoms such as loss of appetite and social withdrawals.
These additional blood tests may evaluate your thyroxine, triiodothyronine, and thyrotropin counts to determine whether your thyroid is overactive or underactive. People with hypothyroidism may be prescribed levothyroxine, an artificial hormone intended to boost your thyroid function, and tested six to eight weeks after they begin taking the medication to see if their counts have improved. If hyperthyroidism is suspected, the patient may be prescribed methimazole or another type of anti-thyroid medication.
Thyroid testing is often ordered for pregnant women due to their higher risk of developing thyroid disease. These tests may also be suggested for people seeking fertility treatment, as both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can lead to difficulty conceiving.
Limiting Daily Caffeine Intake
Caffeine has been classified as a drug that stimulates the central nervous system and, in turn, causes a person to develop a dependence on the substance. What this means is that limiting or especially eliminating caffeine can be a difficult move to make, and may cause a person to experience certain withdrawal symptoms.
One scientific paper6 explains that while some people may only experience mild withdrawal symptoms, severe levels of distress have been reported as withdrawal from caffeine in a few patients.
Common signs of withdrawal from caffeine may include:
- A reduction in the patients alertness
- A depressed mood
Approximately 50% of people will experience a headache, while as much as 13% will experience symptoms that may impair their ability to continue with their day-to-day functions.
These withdrawal symptoms tend to develop within the first 24 hours after the patient has had their last cup of coffee. They are most severe between 20 and 51 hours and may continue to be present in the patient for up to nine days in total.
Even when caffeine consumption is not excessive, giving up caffeine suddenly will most likely cause side-effects to develop.
Individuals who want to eliminate caffeine from their diet completely should gradually reduce their dosage. This will help their body slowly reduce its dependency on caffeine and may help to reduce their risk of developing more severe withdrawal symptoms once they decide to stop using caffeine completely.
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