Sleep Care

Thyroid and Sleep

The two most common diagnosed problems with the thyroid are: Hyperthyroidism, also known as overactive thyroid; and Hypothyroidism, known as underactive thyroid. When a person has hyperthyroidism the thyroid seems to be extremely active, over-producing hormones and causing problems like rapid pulse, high blood pressure and insomnia. With hypothyroidism the opposite occurs; the thyroid decreases the hormones that are produced. Decreased levels of thyroid hormones lead to extreme fatigue, weakness, lack of energy and excessive daytime sleepiness.

The effects of these two conditions seem to have similar effects on sleep. Those diagnosed with hyperthyroidism seem mostly to struggle with insomnia and restless sleep. Due to the increased hormone levels, the body seems to have difficulty relaxing enough to fall asleep. Some people may even experience increased pulse and anxiety at night. Hyperthyroidism can also increase movement at night, causing the person to wake once asleep. This lack of sleep will lead to increased fatigue and daytime sleepiness. The lack of sleep over the long term can be harmful to a person’s health.

Hypothyroidism can also cause increased fatigue and daytime sleepiness. When the thyroid decreases its activity, most people find that intense fatigue sets in. Those with this disorder can also suffer from insomnia and have difficulty staying asleep. Also, hypothyroidism seems to have a high correlation to sleep apnea. Some studies have shown that a person is more likely to develop sleep apnea if he or she has hypothyroidism. The combination of severe fatigue and insomnia can lead to intense difficulty leading a productive life. Many people find that the long-term lack of sleep interrupts their professional and personal lives.

There are several things that you can do to limit the negative effects your thyroid problems can have on your sleep. First, stick to the prescribed treatment plan your physician has set up for you. This includes any medications or therapies he or she has prescribed. Second, try to maintain a stable sleep-wake schedule. Keeping the same bedtime can help train the body and lower the prevalence of insomnia. Also you may need to try relaxation techniques before bed, such as deep breathing, bubble baths, and soft music or massage therapy. There are a number of sleeping aids available on the market that address a variety of external and internal factors that lead to insomnia. Lastly, you should talk to your doctor about being tested for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can significantly decrease the quality of your sleep and contribute to your fatigue and sleepiness.

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