Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

Balance Your Hormones While You Sleep

 

How to Balance Hormones with Sleep.

Enough quality sleep builds our immune systems, repairs cellular damage, reduces inflammation in the body, and resets hormones (including regulating our blood sugar levels and stress hormones).  With chronic sleep deprivation (6 hours or less per night), our cortisol (stress hormone) levels begin to rise, negatively affecting not only our reproductive hormones, but also our thyroid hormones and our risk for a number of diseases, like heart disease, type two diabetes, cancer, and more. You may not think you need more than 6 hours of sleep, but your body does. Lack of sleep is responsible for 100,000 car crashes, 40,000 injuries, and 1550 deaths per year, as well as the Exxon Valdez disaster and Chernobyl nuclear accident!

Our bodies actually react to limited sleep in a similar way that they would react to starvation. Lack of sleep similarly stresses our systems, and actually increases our food intake. We feel hungrier when we’re not sleeping enough. Not only that, but our appetite for carbohydrates, especially sugar and junk foods, significantly increase. One imbalance in the system -lack of sleep- can therefore lead to a chain of negative effects in our bodies and in our lifestyles that can culminate in serious hormone dysregulation.

Insomnia has actually been shown to increase symptoms of menopause, PCOS, infertility (lack of sle, and other reproductive hormone issues.

The Rules of Restorative Sleep

  • Get to bed by 11pm. 10pm is ideal. When we stay up later than that, we get that ‘second wind’ effect, which is actually a boost of cortisol from our adrenals, preventing us from sleeping and -in the long term- causing adrenal fatigue. Setting a regular bedtime and wake-time can help us get to sleep and sleep more deeply.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom and don’t look at screens for 1-2 hours before bed, including your phone! If you use your phone for an alarm, turn it to airplane mode. Remember the saying: use the bedroom for only two activities, sleep and sex!
  • Sleep 8-9 hours in the darker fall/winter months and 7-8 hours in spring/summer. This is a natural seasonal rhythm for our bodies.
  • Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. No night lights or bright alarm clocks. Use thick curtains to block outside lights. Use a face mask if necessary.
  • Use ear plugs if you are bothered by sounds.
  • Eat a high protein breakfast within one hour of waking up to set a healthy melatonin-cortisol cycle for the day, ensuring you’ll be sleepy at bedtime.
  • Don’t use sleep medications, including Benadryl for sleep. They make you artificially sleepy, but prevent you from deeper more restorative rest. Alcohol can do the same thing so if you’re having trouble sleeping, avoid alcohol as well.
  • Make your bedroom cozy. You want to feel comfortable there, like you can’t wait to get to bed.
  • Manage stress levels during the day as much as possible. We all know what it feels like to be up at night ruminating over that exam or the work meeting or talk with our spouses that didn’t go well. Journaling, meditation, exercise, and other stress relief activities can help prevent this. Equally important is acknowledging our feelings, setting healthy boundaries, and asking for help when we need something. Vitamin B, D, and EPA, along with many herbs, can also be helpful for regulating stress levels.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants after 1pm. Better yet, avoid them altogether! It gives us false energy that prevents us from rest and can lead to adrenal fatigue if overused.
  • If you’re having trouble resetting your sleep cycle, ask your healthcare provider if you should try a melatonin or magnesium supplement before bed.

Resources:

https://www.healthstatus.com/health_blog/pcos/sleep-is-critical-for-hormone-balance-and-pcos/

https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825

http://natural-fertility-info.com/problems-sleeping-hormonal-balance.html


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

How to Balance Your Hormones with Exercise

 

How to Balance Hormones with Exercise.

We all know exercise is good for us. We also know that too much of a good thing isn’t good after all. This applies to exercise too!

When we exercise, we put our bodies in a state of stress. Cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, increases when we exercise just like it does when we experiences other forms of stress. This can be good, because cortisol helps to repair tissue damage caused by exercise. However, cortisol also breaks down muscle proteins, encourages fat storage, especially around the midline, and causes undue stress to our body systems, including our hormones. Stress from exercise suppresses the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), the hormones that stimulate ovulation and sperm production.

This means that too much exercise can cause infertility, amenorrhea (no periods), irregular cycles, and other hormonal issues. Additionally, research has shown that too much exercise can decrease testosterone in all sexes, and can decrease estrogen and progesterone in women.

Wait, I thought this was about exercise being good for hormones?

It is! In moderation. Light to moderate exercise actually reduces stress, the opposite of intense training sessions. Gentle yoga and walking are probably best known for this. Brief sessions or cardio or high intensity interval training are enough to get your heart rate up and get the health benefits of exercise without causing unecessary stress to your mind, body, or hormones. High intensity interval training (HIIT) actually increases testosterone and balances estrogen and progesterone, the opposite of excessive training sesssions.

When and how to Exercise for Hormone Regulation:

  1. Sit less: Sitting too much has many negative health effects, from cardiovascular health to muscle tension to mental health. It also messes with your hormones, especially insulin, which controls our blood sugar balance and can throw estrogen and progesterone out of whack too. Fidget, stand at your desk, walk and talk, set your phone or computer to ping at you every hour to remind you to get up and stretch, do some squats while you are watching TV.
  2. Walk more: Walking is a wonderful gentle exercise that improves hormone balance without causing extra stress. It’s also beneficial for our mental health, which in turn affects our hormones.
  3. Hight Intensity Interval Training: As well as strengthening your lungs and heart, it boosts testosterone and growth hormone, and improves insulin sensitivity. All you need is 12 to 20 minutes, three times a week. That’s it!
  4. Yoga: Not only does it improve flexibility, it also lowers your level of stress hormones and helps improve your mood. Check out yoga poses for hormone balance here.

Once you start thinking about exercise as part of your lifestyle, rather than another item on your to do list, it will start to feel fun and even like self-care. You don’t have to add any extra time to your day to stand instead of sitting, you don’t have to give up your favorite tv show, watch it during your 20 minute HIIT session! You can take a walk instead of drinking that second cup of coffee in the afternoon. When you piece all of this together, you can make major changes not only to your hormone balance, but to your overall health and mental health.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.