• Martha Lewis

The Deal with DHEA and Your Sleep

There’s a powerful hormone that promotes growth and repair. It’s called DHEA. Low levels of this hormone are an early warning sign that your adrenal system isn't functioning well.

DHEA is the parent of all sex hormones so if you have low DHEA you most likely have low estreogen, progesterone and testosterone, too. All of these hormone imbalances can cause sleep issues.

The most important function of DHEA is that it counter-regulates cortisol. While cortisol is a necessary hormone for dealing with acute stress and fighting inflammation, it also breaks down your body.

When I look at my clients’ hormones, I look at the balance between cortisol and DHEA. If cortisol is higher than DHEA, that means that their body is breaking down, what’s called a catabolic state. Chronic stress (physical or mental) lowers DHEA and stimulates cortisol. When this happens, it affects your energy production, body chemistry and immune activity. Pretty much, all the systems of your body start breaking down one by one and stop functioning well.

Symptoms of low DHEA include:

-Weight gain


-Low sex drive

-Dry skin

-Brittle bones

-Low energy

-Mood swings

-Poor memory

Since cortisol is the main hormone that causes insomnia, you want to have enough DHEA to keep cortisol in balance. For my clients with low DHEA, I recommend that they supplement with it for a short amount of time to build up their levels. It’s critical to reduce stress and cortisol at the same time so that the body starts making enough DHEA on its own. I always want to find out why DHEA is low and fix it instead of just supplementing with DHEA forever.

Even if you have the symptoms listed above, I don’t recommend supplementing with DHEA unless you know you need it. These symptoms can be signs of other low hormones, too. If you take DHEA and you’re estrogen dominant, for example, you could make things much worse. That’s why I believe in testing instead of guessing. Trying supplements to see if they help can get your body more out of balance. The functional lab tests I do show exactly what’s going on with the hormones in your body so I know what to recommend for you to take. Although my clients all have insomnia, the reasons why are all different.

If you want a completely customized approach to fixing your sleep once and for all, we should chat. I’ll tell you what’s causing your insomnia and how you can get the sleep you need by restoring your health. I’ll tell you how I find the root cause of why you aren’t sleeping so we know exactly how to fix it with no guessing involved so you can feel rested with plenty of energy most days of the rest of your life!

Schedule your call here!

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Martha Lewis, MS, APSC

Jackson Hole, WY



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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this site and by Martha Lewis and guests are published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Please consult a local physician or other health care professional for your specific health care and/or medical needs or concerns. Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. Martha Lewis provides information based on her thorough education and encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website. Information provided on this website and the use by you of any products or services referenced on this website DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Martha Lewis. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.