If you wake up feeling tired, then you may want to know that there is a bidirectional relationship between hormones and your sleep. There are certain fluctuations of hormones that should naturally be occurring throughout the day. These fluctuations can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, helping you to reach your peak number of hours of sleep. When these fluctuations are off and out of sync, you may find yourself having trouble getting the recommend 7-8 hours of sleep. Continue reading to find out how sleep and your hormones can influence each other.
What are hormones, and what do they do?
Hormones are small chemical messengers that play a role in regulating your body's processes, systems and functions. The body requires several different types of hormones to function properly and they are released through the endocrine system - a network of organs and gland located in the body that all are responsible for regulating one or more hormones.
Hormones are responsible for many functions including metabolism, growth, body temperature, sexual function/drive/reproduction, heart rate, blood pressure and sleep-wake cycles. The production and function of many of these hormones depends on the amount of sleep, and in turn can turn around and influence the quality and amount of sleep that you get.
Hormones Influenced by Sleep
Sleep plays a vital role influencing hormonal function and release. When the body doesn't get the amount of sleep that it needs, then the release and the function of these hormones changes which can negatively impact the quality of sleep.
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It helps to regulate the other hormones in the body. When you go to sleep for the full 7-8 hours and then wake up, your cortisol will peak after the first thirty minutes and set off your other hormones to begin their daily functioning. Those who get less than 7 hours of sleep can have a negative effect on cortisol release which can in turn have a negative effect on many other hormones.
Estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones
Estrogen and progesterone play a role in maintaining the health of the reproductive system for women. When the amount of cortisol is off due to a lack of sleep, this can disrupt the relationship between estrogen and progesterone. It can also cause thyroid to slow down which can negatively impact your metabolism by also slowing it down.
Leptin, ghrelin and insulin are three hunger hormones that can be negatively impacted by poor sleep. Sleep is an important regulator of metabolism - the process of turning food into energy. Poor sleep can lead to weight gain by throwing off the balance of hormones responsible for fullness, hunger, blood sugar regulation and fat storage.
Poor sleep can lead to insulin resistance which causes weight gain, particularly in the middle of the body. Increased levels of ghrelin can lead to increased feelings of hunger, which is a result of poor sleep and increased insulin resistance. Leptin is also downregulated in sleep deprived individuals which is the hormone responsible for fullness. All of these factors increase the risk for obesity, diabetes, and associated health effects.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that is associated with sleep-wake cycle. It regulates the body's circadian rhythm so you can fall asleep and wake up at about the same time everyday. Poor sleep can impact melatonin and negatively affect its function in the body leading to issues staying asleep and regulating other hormones in the body that also induce sleep (temperature control, diuretic control, heart rate, etc.)
Human growth hormone plays a vital role in protein production and synthesis, muscle development, metabolism and immunity. Sleep impacts the amount of this hormone in the body, and when this hormone is reduced. - as seen in sleep deprivation - it can lead to an inability to repair injuries and an accumulation of belly fat.
Too much or Too little sleep
If you're accumulating sleep debt, throughout the week, it is impossible to make this up on the weekends. Missing sleep can lead to reduced immunity, increased illness, spikes in appetite and weight gain due to higher calorie consumption.
Too much sleep, however, is not a better compensation. Too much sleep can cause grogginess, daytime fatigue, reduced metabolism, impaired focus, and disrupted sleep cycles.
All of these hormonal fluctuations show why it is essential to get the recommended number of hours of sleep. If you are having trouble getting the amount of sleep you need, then please click the orange button below to get the help that you need.