Do you sleep less than seven hours at night? Do you frequently fall asleep while watching TV or reading a book? Do you find difficulty falling asleep? Do you awaken more than two times during the night? Do you feel unrested when you wake up? Is your exposure to sunlight limited most days? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you probably have sleep disruptions.
What is the Circadian Cycle?
Restful and restorative sleep is the foundation of health and well being. The natural awake-sleep cycle is called the circadian cycle and it’s controlled by the pineal gland. This cycle has two phases: rest and activity. Both phases mutually enhance each other: it’s only when you sleep deeply at night, that you will have the energy during the day to exercise and on the other hand, exercise will help you sleep better at night.
The Pineal Gland and Hormones
The pineal gland-the master gland that controls the circadian cycle- is vital for control of sleep habits and hormone production by other glands in the body namely the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenals, thyroid and ovaries or testes, as well as mental stability and aging.
It also controls calcium passing in and out of the cells and in conjunction with the adrenals, it helps with sodium and potassium levels in the body. It’s also believed by many to be the “seat of the soul” and is involved with our spirituality.
Melatonin and Sleep
The pineal gland produces an important antioxidant hormone called melatonin which regulates the awake-sleep cycle and also plays a role in immunity and protection against cancer. The pineal gland is turned on by darkness and turned off by daylight. That’s why a good sleep hygiene is actually described by renowned naturopaths to be the number one natural remedy for hormonal imbalance.
Sleep for Hormonal Imbalance
If you struggle with hormonal imbalance such as adrenal fatigue, thyroid hypofunction, female hormonal problems including PMS, menopausal symptoms, fibroids, ovarian cysts and breast cysts, you need to think about improving your sleep habits. A healthy sleep routine is the easiest, cheapest and number one natural remedy to support your endocrine glands.and restore hormonal balance.
Sleep Disruption and Stress level
It’s also important to remember that anything that disrupts your sleep cycle or causes poor quality sleep is a stress trigger that will increase your stress level. As you know stress is at the root cause of almost all chronic health problems and especially hormonal imbalance. This one more reason to work on improving your sleep habits and supporting a healthy melatonin rhythm by the pineal gland.
Healthy Sleep Habits to Balance Hormones
Sleep disruption might range from inadequate sleep hours and inverted circadian rhythm to non-restorative sleep. Some disruptions might be harder to correct than others but usually following a healthy sleep routine can help with most cases. Here are 3 simple tips to improve sleep and balance your hormones naturally
3 Simple Tips to Improve Sleep and Balance Hormones Naturally
These are very basic and simple tips that are highly effective in improving your sleep routine and balancing your hormones naturally. There are many other things you can try for sure but these are the 3 most important tips that are basic for a healthy sleep routine.
1-Go to bed at the same time every night
This helps you to avoid disruption in your natural melatonin rhythm which peaks before bedtime and supports a healthy pineal gland function.
2-Sleep in complete darkness
Use heavy curtains, blackout shades or eye covers to keep out light. The pineal gland is highly sensitive to natural light-dark cycles so it’s essential to help turn on melatonin secretion by the pineal gland at night. Also avoid exposure to any light during nighttime sleep if you wake up during that time.
3-Get exposure to light during the day
Get at least half hour of sunlight or broad spectrum light exposure (light box) during the day and preferably first thing in the morning. This turns off your pineal gland and stops melatonin production during the day thus helping melatonin secretion rhythm coordination with the natural dark-light cycle.
As a holistic nutritionist working mainly with women who have weight loss issues and hormonal imbalances, I find that sleep disruption can be either a cause or a result of hormonal imbalance. And in most cases working on improving sleep naturally with healthy sleep habits is effective in breaking this vicious circle that can hugely affect weight loss efforts, energy level and quality of life.
Further steps to improve sleep and balance hormones naturally include a clean whole foods diet, natural herb and/or nutritional supplements together with implementing a variety of lifestyle changes to help reduce stress and promote general well-being.
Back to You
If you have hormonal imbalance and have trouble getting restful sleep, try the above tips for a couple of weeks and I’m sure that you’ll be amazed by the results.
If you need help with your health and nutrition, CALL Healthy U Turn at 416 876 4634 to book an appointment OR Sign up for a Clarity Session with Oakville nutritionist, Dr Maha Nasr to discuss your health concerns and learn more about how we can help.