Hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation can take a toll on your body. Feeling tired and sluggish even after sleeping could cause severe problems at work or school.
But, there are ways for you to combat this health condition, avoid excessive daytime sleepiness, and get a restful sleep each night.
In this article:
- How Does Hypothyroidism Affect Sleep?
- A Good Night’s Sleep Is Important for Fighting Tiredness
- How to Improve Thyroid Health Naturally
Conquer Hypothyroidism and Sleep Issues with These Tips
How Does Hypothyroidism Affect Sleep?
Before we talk about helpful tips to make you sleep better, let’s touch on a short explanation of how hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disease, affects sleep.
When your thyroid produces fewer hormones than it usually does, it slows down bodily processes, making you feel tired quickly. You may experience a feeling like you’re stuck in a haze, or your ability to think sharply may also be affected.
Hypothyroidism can also disrupt your slow-wave sleep, which is a sleep stage described as refreshing and is what resets that feeling of being sleepy.
A Good Night’s Sleep Is Important for Fighting Tiredness
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to combat the daytime fatigue often caused by an underactive thyroid. Here are some tips on how to sleep better and get enough rest.
1. Keep Your Bedroom Tidy and Comfortable
The key to getting more restful sleep is the state of your bedroom. Keep your bedroom tidy and in order, and remove anything that would distract you visually.
Invest in a good quality mattress and pillows. For optimal sleep, keep your bedroom’s temperature to between 60 and 67°F.
2. Simulate Nighttime
Turn off all lights at least an hour before your bedtime. Invest in thick curtains or blinds to keep sunlight away, particularly if you work graveyard and sleep during the day.
You can also use a pair of noise-canceling earplugs. Some people can only sleep without any noise.
A pair of noise-canceling earplugs will do wonders for you, especially if you live near a busy street or neighborhood.
On the other hand, some people prefer a specific kind of noise to lull them to sleep. The sound triggers an autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR, a euphoric feeling that could induce you to sleep.
It can be white noise, the sound of an electric fan turned on, rain, or a person whispering in the background.
3. Start a Wind-Down Routine
A warm bath offers more than just cleansing benefits because it also helps with your hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation.
Turn a warm bath into a wonderful bedtime ritual by using Epsom salts and essential oils like lavender. The Epsom salts can remove toxins from your body, while the aroma of the lavender calms and relaxes the senses.
Additionally, you can also drink herbal tea or listen to relaxing music.
Going to bed on a schedule will also help condition your body to shut down.
Meditation, yoga, slow breathing, and even counting sheep will help you keep your mind off things. At this time, avoid checking your messages and notifications, or watching TV as electronics can hinder your circadian rhythm.
4. Condition Your Body to Slow Down
Doing some activities to relax your mind and slow down your body can help relieve sleep problems like obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia. Try meditation, yoga, or slow breathing to help you get relaxed.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Definition: Repeated episodes of partial or complete obstructions of the upper airway when sleeping
Also, avoid checking social media or watching television before going to sleep.
5. Eat Less at Night
A full stomach can cause sleep disturbances. Doctors recommend having meals with a combination of protein and carbohydrates, like natural peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers.
If you have to eat full meals at night, try to eat food items rich in fiber, Omega-3 fat, probiotics, iodine, and antioxidants. You can ask your doctor to help you come up with a hypothyroid diet plan that’s best for you.
Coffee is not bad but is highly discouraged before bedtime. Caffeine could cause acid reflux and insomnia, which is not good to deal with for people with hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation.
It also reduces the effectiveness of your thyroid medication, especially if you had them less than an hour before or after taking it.
It would help if you also considered cutting back on alcohol, too.
One study showed that alcohol directly suppresses thyroid function by cellular toxicity. Meaning drinking can decrease the thyroid hormones like thyroxine necessary for your body’s processes.
6. Take Short Afternoon Naps
Napping is good for hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation, as you want to get as much fitful sleep as you can. Sleeping for at least 10 minutes can already restore your wakefulness, giving you more energy to accomplish tasks for the rest of the day.
But, do try to keep naps under 30 minutes, as prolonged afternoon naps can cause thyroid sleep issues. Longer or frequent naps are said to be associated with productivity loss to higher morbidity and mortality.
7. Exercise Daily
If you are hypothyroid, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But, you can start with low-impact aerobic and strengthening exercises, as they do not apply unwanted pressure on your swollen limbs and joints.
Also, it is important to exercise during the day to get your daily dose of vitamin D and set your biological clock. Don’t tire yourself with exercise at night, or at least exercise 2-3 hours before your bedtime.
Proper daytime exercise can also promote weight loss and improve muscle weakness.
8. Stop Smoking
Nicotine is a stimulant and will interfere with your sleep quality and promote sleep disorders. Cigarette smoking will cause more fatigue and could worsen hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation.
Smoking can also interfere with your hypothyroidism treatment plan, so it’s best to quit before the thyroid situation gets worse. However, quitting smoking may also negatively impact your thyroid condition.
It’s best to speak with your physician and find out what the best solution would be for your unique needs.
9. Take Magnesium Supplements
A 400-mg tablet of magnesium per day may not only help you with your thyroid problems but may also help you with your insomnia.
Ask your doctor first of how much you should take into consideration your current thyroid condition, your diet, and your thyroid medication.
10. Increase Exposure to Bright Light During the Day
Your circadian rhythms are your body’s natural time-keeping clock that affects your hormones, body, and brain, lets you stay awake, and tells your body when your bedtime is.
Exposure to natural bright light can help keep your circadian rhythm healthy. It also enhances your energy during the day and sleep duration and quality at night.
A study showed that older adults who had two hours of exposure to the sun increased sleep efficacy by 80% and the amount of sleep.
Try to get daily sunlight as much as possible or invest in technologies with artificial bright light if sun exposure is limited in your place.
11. Don’t Drink Any Liquid Before Bedtime
Excessive urination at night is the primary reason for not drinking any liquid before bedtime. It also affects energy during the day and sleep quality at night.
Although hydration is crucial for your overall health, it’s best to reduce fluid intake in the evening. Don’t drink liquids at least an hour before going to bed.
Make sure to use the bathroom before bedtime so you won’t get up frequently at night to urinate.
12. Sleep and Wake Up the Same Time
Your circadian rhythm functions like a set loop; it conditions the body to follow the same sleep and wake time. Going to bed on a schedule will help your body know it is time to shut down.
A study revealed that adolescents who have an irregular sleeping pattern and go to sleep late at night had poor sleep. Irregular sleeping patterns can also interfere with your circadian rhythm.
Try to set a sleeping schedule and wake up the same time each day to achieve quality sleep long term. If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes of lying down in bed, get up and do something relaxing to combat your Synthroid insomnia.
13. Block Your Clock
Looking at the clock will not make time go by any faster or shorter. Looking at the clock throughout the night is more likely to keep you awake, with your mind racing, longer. Turn the clock away so you can’t see the time to help fall asleep and stay asleep.
How to Improve Thyroid Health Naturally
Sleep deprivation is just one of the many hypothyroidism symptoms. For this reason, it’s important to follow best practices to manage this autoimmune disorder and improve thyroid levels, on top of improving your sleep.
1. Improve Adrenal Function
Your adrenals are responsible for producing hormones that regulate blood pressure, immune system, metabolism, and other essential functions of the body. It also works closely with your thyroid, where distressing the adrenal can have a significant effect on your metabolic processes.
To keep your adrenals healthy, start with your diet by balancing nutrient-dense carbs, healthy fats, and protein. It’s also essential to get a restful sleep every day.
2. Avoid Gluten
Gluten is a type of protein commonly present in grains like barley, rye, and wheat. What this protein does is when it passes through your gut and bloodstream, your immune system tags it as foreign, releasing antibodies as a response.
But, your immune system can mistake your thyroid for gluten, attacking the organ, and this is where the problem occurs.
Make sure to check the labels whenever you’re shopping for groceries to avoid gluten and help with your hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation.
3. Add More Berries in Your Diet
All kinds of berries – blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries – are rich in substances like antioxidants. What these substances do is help eliminate free radicals that can damage cells in the thyroid.
Antioxidants also inhibit hydrogen peroxide damage as a result of the thyroid processing iodine. Include 400 g of fruits, including berries, in your meals each day.
4. Increase Selenium
Selenium is an essential nutrient that supports thyroid metabolism and synthesis. The thyroid also has the highest concentration of selenium in the body to keep the production of hormones and prevent thyroid-related diseases.
You can get selenium from the following foods:
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Firm tofu
- Lean chicken breast
- Lean pork chops
- Brazil nuts
5. Take More Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that may become deficient as you age and if you have hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation. Those with thyroid disease may have a high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency because the damage to the digestive tract caused by the condition prevents the proper absorption of the nutrients.
You can get vitamin B12 from your diet through the following foods:
- Milk and other dairy products
- Fortified nutritional yeast
- Fortified cereal
- Animal kidneys and liver
6. Do Yoga
You can enroll in yoga classes, so you will be guided on the proper exercises to do. You can also search online for basic yoga poses that may be beneficial for you.
7. Increase Your Iodine Intake
Cells in your thyroid are the only cells that can absorb iodine. And so, people diagnosed with hypothyroidism tend to have low levels of this mineral.
Increase iodine intake from these foods:
- Lima beans
- Iodized salt
- Seaweed (kombu kelp, wakame, and nori)
Remember, hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation may occur on anyone, but they can be treated.
Your sleep issues are your body’s way of saying it needs a full recovery toward overall optimum health. Getting a good night’s sleep should also be a top priority to manage your hypothyroidism.
What other tips to ease the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation can you share with us? Please leave them in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 8, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.