Are your sleepless nights accompanied by a hormonal symphony playing out of tune? Let’s dive into the intricate connection between female hormones and disrupted sleep. As your functional medicine sleep coach, I’m here to shed light on this groundbreaking aspect of holistic health.

Disclaimer:

“I do my best to present the best and most accurate information here, but here’s what I am – a pharmacist and holistic sleep coach. I’m not your doctor or psychologist so use your best judgement when implementing my information.”

**As a way to keep my content fresh and up to date. Some of the links below are affiliated links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize your purchase.

Identifying the Culprit

IInsomnia and hormonal imbalance often dance hand in hand. My experience with clients revealed a common thread – stress-induced hormonal havoc. Whether it’s emotional stress, illness, post-surgery recovery, or sleep deprivation, our body’s hormonal priorities shift, impacting sleep.

The Hormone Symphony

Picture your body as a symphony hall, where hormones play unique instruments. Stress, the relentless conductor, directs cortisol to the stage, dimming the spotlight on other hormones like estrogen. The result? A hormonal discord leading to symptoms of low estrogen.

Understanding the Hormones

What is a Hormone? Hormones are like backstage messengers, produced by glands in the endocrine system. They travel the bloodstream, regulating essential processes in our organs and tissues.

How Do Hormones Interact? It’s a symphony of interconnectedness. Just like musicians influence each other, hormones create a complex network where their interactions maintain a delicate balance.

Multiple Receptors for One Hormone Imagine one hormone playing different tunes on various cells – insulin on muscle cells, liver cells, and fat cells. Each cell responds uniquely to the hormonal melody.

Regulation – Turning Hormones On or Off Picture feedback loops as conductors ensuring hormonal harmony. When levels rise, signals prompt glands to ease production; low levels trigger an increase. This meticulous balance ensures optimal bodily function.

Hormones in a Nutshell Hormones are the conductors orchestrating bodily functions, binding to specific receptors. Their levels are precisely regulated through feedback loops, maintaining harmony in the endocrine system’s intricate dance.

Different Hormones that affect Sleep

Our bodies house a multitude of messengers, hormones coursing through our blood vessels. Esteemed hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and melatonin wield influence over sleep. Lesser-known hormones such as Pregnenolone, DHEA, Cortisol, and insulin also play a role in your sleep quality. This article will delve into these hormones, exploring the illnesses that manifest these changes. Stay tuned for future articles where I’ll discuss treatment options, testing methods for abnormalities, and other causes of hormone irregularities like toxic build-up, stress, and insulin resistance. Feel free to comment on which topic you’d like me to explore next.

Melatonin

Melatonin, famously known as the sleep hormone, originates from the brain’s pineal gland. However, here’s a surprising twist – it’s produced in significantly higher quantities in the GI Tract. An intriguing fact about melatonin involves the enzyme NAT (serotonin-N-acetyltransferase), which decreases with age but is profoundly influenced by vitamin B6 storage. Supplementing with the activated form, pyridoxal-5phosphate or P-5-P, has shown benefits for mental health and sleep. Professional-grade supplements are available when you sign up under my formulary.

Melatonin receptors are scattered throughout the body, indicating its broader role beyond aiding sleep. Receptors reside in the intestines, fat tissue, kidneys, liver, lungs, adrenals, and other organs.

What causes low melatonin?

Surprisingly, electromagnetic fields (EMFs) play a significant role. EMFs, present in cell phones, TVs, 5G towers, powerlines, and radio waves, deplete melatonin, resulting in symptoms of deficiency. Other causes include alcohol dependence, caffeine abuse, high glycemic index foods, tobacco, and vitamin B12 deficiency. EMFs trick the brain into thinking there’s blue light, suppressing melatonin production – not good!

Should I take melatonin?

First, reduce exposure to electronics before bedtime or even a few hours prior. Your electronics emit electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) which have shown to reduce melatonin in the brain. Turn off or put your smartphone on airplane mode and consider putting your wifi on a timer. Use ethernet cords for internet and keep electronics at least 6 feet away while sleeping. Consider a grounding mat like those from earthing to neutralize EMF effects. Earthing mats send free electrons to your body, helping cope with stress.

How to Take Melatonin

If considering melatonin, women should start with a lower dose (around 0.1 mg) compared to men (1 mg). Avoid falling for higher doses (up to 10 mg or more) as it’s a business strategy, and excessive melatonin can lower serotonin levels.

Should I test for melatonin?

For those measuring melatonin levels, saliva testing is reliable, especially if taking more than 1 mg. Home test kits are available from GetBased.com, offering a convenient option to assess a few hormones alongside standard lab tests.

Estrogen Explained – The Master Female Hormone

What causes low Estrogen?

Women experience hormonal fluctuations throughout the month, with variations in estrogen levels. However, several issues can deplete estrogen. These include:

  • Hormonal dysregulation post-delivery (postpartum)
  • Low thyroid levels (Hypothyroidism)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Perimenopause/menopause
  • Pituitary dysfunction
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Premature ovarian decline or failure
  • Synthetic hormone replacement
  • Turner syndrome

Stress, both mental and physical, often underlies these issues. Signs and symptoms of low estrogen span various aspects of health:

Skin, Hair, and Nails:

  • Acne
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Thinner skin
  • More wrinkles (aging skin)
  • Oily skin

Mental and Emotional Health:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Decrease in memory and focus
  • Panic attacks
  • Restless sleep

Cardiovascular Health:

  • Arthritis
  • Heart Attack
  • Strokes
  • Elevated Cholesterol
  • Hypertension / Elevated blood pressure

Reproductive System:

  • Decrease in breast size
  • Decrease in sexual interest / function
  • Infertility
  • PCOS
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vulvodynia (vaginal pain)

    Metabolic Health:

    • Diabetes/ insulin resistance
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Food Cravings
    • Increase in tension headaches
    • Insulin resistance (can lead to diabetes)
    • Weight gain around the middle

    Musculoskeletal System:

    • Decrease in dexterity
    • Joint Pain
    • Osteoporosis / osteopenia

    Urinary and Bladder Health:

    • Bladder Problems (more infections, urinary leakage)
    • Stress incontinence
    • Urinary stress incontinence / leakage
    • Urinary tract infections

    General Well-being:

    • Dry Eye
    • Increased in cholesterol
    • Low energy

    How does Estrogen Increase

    While excess estrogen is less common in older individuals, times are changing. Certain foods and potent chemicals can elevate estrogen levels, often leading to “estrogen dominance.” This occurs when estrogen outweighs progesterone, resulting in symptoms like:

     

    Physical Symptoms:

    • Bloating
    • Fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Heavy Periods
    • Swollen Breasts
    • Uterine Fibroids (non-cancerous tumors of the uterus)
    • Water Retention
    • Weight Gain (abdomen, hips, and thighs)

    Cognitive Symptoms:

    • Brain Fog
    • Poor Sleep

    Emotional and Mental Health Symptoms:

    • Decrease in Sexual Interest
    • Depression with Anxiety
    • Irritability
    • Mood Swings
    • Panic Attacks

    Endocrine and Hormonal Effects:

    • Elevated Risk of Developing Breast Cancer
    • Hypothyroidism (Increases the binding of thyroid hormone levels)
    • Increased Risk of Developing Uterine Cancer

    Various factors contribute to excess estrogen, including environmental estrogens found in everyday items, health and beauty products, and contaminated foods. Diet low in grains and fiber, lack of exercise, and impaired estrogen elimination through the liver and GI tract can also elevate estrogen levels. Stay tuned for future articles covering the proper elimination of excess hormones.

    Progesterone: Balancing Act in Your Body

    Progesterone, a pivotal hormone renowned for its role in menstruation, pregnancy, and embryo formation. Initially produced in the ovaries until menopause, thereafter, it takes center stage in the adrenal glands. Progesterone, working hand in hand with estrogen, harmonizes the body’s hormonal equilibrium. An imbalance between them can be unmistakably felt.

    Functions of Progesterone in Your Body

    Proper progesterone balance not only normalizes cycles but also diminishes the risk of developing breast cancer. Studies reveal a 5.4 times increased risk for premenopausal breast cancer in women with hormonal imbalances (1) (2).

     

    Signs and Symptoms of Progesterone Deficiency

    Emotional and Mental Health Symptoms:

    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Hypersensitivity
    • Insomnia
    • Irritability
    • Mood Swings
    • Nervousness

    Cardiovascular and Metabolic Symptoms:

    • Decreased HDL levels
    • Weight Gain

    Reproductive and Menstrual Symptoms:

    • Decreased Libido
    • Excessive Menstruation (lasting longer than 7 days and very heavy bleeding)
    • Migraine Headaches prior to Menstrual Cycle

    Musculoskeletal Symptoms:

    • Osteoporosis
    • Pain and Inflammation

    Causes of Low Progesterone

    Several factors contribute to low progesterone levels. Stress, both physical and mental, stands out as a common culprit, altering the delicate balance between cortisol and progesterone production. Other causes include aging, low thyroid, low luteinizing hormone (LH), high sugar intake, and deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals (A, B6, C, and zinc). Interestingly, certain antidepressants, as per manufacturer leaflets, may impair progesterone levels with prolonged use. Keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms mentioned above, and stay informed on potential causes.

    Conclusion: Unlocking the Power of Hormones for Better Sleep

    In our quest for rejuvenating sleep, the symphony of hormones orchestrates a crucial role. From estrogen and progesterone’s dynamic duo to melatonin’s sleep-regulating prowess, these hormones intricately connect sleep quality with overall well-being.

    Vigilance is key in recognizing signs of common hormone irregularities, from emotional cues to cardiovascular and metabolic indicators. Understanding the root causes, including stress, aging, and environmental factors, empowers us to proactively address these imbalances.

    Our lifestyle choices, such as exposure to electronic devices and dietary habits, significantly impact hormone levels. As we navigate the complexities of sleep wellness, embracing hormonal harmony becomes the compass guiding us towards vitality and resilience.

    For those seeking sleep-enhancing products or biohacking tools, consider exploring professional-grade supplements in my formulary or grounding mats from Earhing.com. These products can complement your journey to enlightened sleep, ensuring the symphony within us plays harmoniously for rejuvenating nights.

    References:

    1. Fournier, A., et al., “Breast cancer risk in relation to different types of hormone replacement therapy in the E3N-EPIC cohort,” Int Jour Cancer 2005; 114(3):448-54
    2. Cowan LD, Gordis L, Tonascia JA, Jones GS. Breast cancer incidence in women with a history of progesterone deficiency. Am J Epidemiol. 1981 Aug;114(2):209-17. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a113184. PMID: 7304556.

    Adult Sleep Consultant

    Dr. Zeke Medina is a seasoned expert in the field of pharmacy, holding a doctorate from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. As a Certified Sleep Consultant, he has not only served as a sleep mentor for Solve Your Sleep Consultants but has also made significant contributions to the field. Dr. Medina's expertise extends beyond traditional pharmacy roles; he is a dedicated biohacker, consistently exploring innovative approaches to enhance overall well-being.

    With a wealth of experience spanning over a decade, Dr. Medina has positioned himself as a trusted authority in the realms of holistic sleep coaching and biohacking. His commitment to helping others achieve optimal sleep is evident in his numerous features on reputable platforms such as Humana, Insider, Sleepopolis, and MindBodyGreen. Dr. Medina has also graced television screens, appearing on NBC DFW Texas Today and Spectrum Local News.

    A sought-after guest on various podcasts, Dr. Medina shares insights on sleep hacks, behavioral sleep strategies, and positive habit formation. His mission goes beyond individual consultations; since establishing his consulting agency in 2016, Dr. Medina, alongside his wife, has assisted over 1,000 families in achieving the rest they deserve. His impact extends to Fortune 500 companies, where he has played a pivotal role in ensuring employees receive the rest and recovery essential for optimal performance.

    Join the ranks of those who've benefited in the past and let Dr. Zeke Medina guide you on your journey to better sleep and overall well-being.