Want to sleep better? Make sure your thyroid isn't causing your insomnia!
Updated: Mar 21
The synthetic form of the thyroid hormone is the fourth highest selling drug in the US. That shows how common thyroid problems are these days. Millions of people are diagnosed with thyroid problems and there are many more who have symptoms but are told they’re normal.
Studies actually show that 90% of people with hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, are producing antibodies to thyroid tissue. That means they have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's. This is the most common autoimmune disease in the US.
So how does the thyroid work?
The thyroid is a gland in our throat that is controlled by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland releases the thyroid stimulating hormone TSH when thyroid hormones get too low. Then the thyroid produces T4 and T3. It generally produces 80% T4 and just 20% T3 and then our body has to convert T4 into T3 to use it throughout the body. There are thyroid receptors in every single organ and every single part of our body.
The thyroid works like a thermostat in our house. When the thyroid makes the right amount of thyroid hormones it keeps the temperature just right.
But if the thyroid is overactive, which is called hyperthyroidism, it is making too much T4 and T3. It's like having a thermostat that is set too high, causing the house to overheat. This is definitely going to cause insomnia because you are too energized and have too much of this hormone.
Now if your thermostat isn't active enough and it’s set too low then the house is going to get cold. hat's called hypothyroidism which can also cause insomnia.
One sign of hypothyroidism is actually sleeping a lot and still feeling sluggish and tired all the time. I find this is most common when people get their thyroid tested by their doctor and they're told they’re fine, yet they don't feel fine. If you have many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as inability to lose weight, even with diet and exercise, feeling cold all the time, or hair thinning, it’s really frustrating to have those symptoms and be told that everything is normal.
The problem with standard thyroid tests
Let's get into why that might happen. First of all, standard lab tests come back with a normal range. So when tested, your ranges might show that you are normal but the problem is that the standard ranges are actually based on sick people.
Think about it. No healthy person walks into a doctor’s office and says “I want my thyroid tested”. The ranges are based on the extremes of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism and then anyone in the middle of those ranges is considered normal.
However, there is a huge difference between normal and optimal. That's what's really cool about the training I've done. I’ve learned what the optimal ranges are. We don't want a range that is barely passing as a D -. We want an A+ optimal range. So interpretation of these tests is huge.
Another really common issue that these tests don't test for everything. I spoke to someone who recently had blood drawn at the hospital and was only tested for TSH, the thyroid stimulating hormone. Her hormones were low and she was prescribed a hormone replacement, but that's not necessarily solving the problem and it's not looking at the big picture.
You also need to test for T4 and T3 as well as free and reverse T3 and T4.l. Since our bodies need to convert T4 into T3 and that conversion is often the problem with my clients, only testing for TSH and T4 isn’t giving you the big picture you need to fix your thyroid.
It’s like trying to ride your bike and your bike will not pedal. If you only look at the pedal, you're not going to figure it out. You have to look at the entire system - the chain, the cassette, the cable, etc. You need to look at everything that could affect the pedal and not just a pedal itself.
Thyroid and the gut
I also want to mention how connected the gut is to the thyroid, because this often gets overlooked. If you find out that you have thyroid issues and you start treating your thyroid but you still have an underlying gut issue, then it's not going to improve over time.
It's like being in a leaking boat and continually bailing out the water, but water just keeps pouring in. You have to fix the leak to permanently repair the boat. If you don't address the gut issues that are contributing to the thyroid problems, then you're not going to get better.
The gut is so important because our healthy gut bacteria make the enzyme that converts T4 into T3. Any kind of inflammation in the gut, which can be related to having a parasite, leaky gut or food sensitivities (if you missed those posts then definitely go back and take a look), is going to raise cortisol levels and that is going to decrease your T3. This will affect how your thyroid functions. So you have to treat the gut as well as treat the thyroid get to the bottom of it. Just adding those synthetic hormones isn't going to help in the long term.
I know so many people, women especially, who get tested and are told everything is normal. If that's you, please get in touch with me and we can talk about more comprehensive testing to figure out why you aren’t sleeping.
If you're not sleeping your body is telling you that something is wrong! and it could be many different things. That's why I look at all these factors: thyroid, hormones, gut health and food sensitivities to get to the root cause of why you aren’t sleeping.
If you’re ready to find out what’s keeping you awake at night, book a call with me. You’ll discover why YOU aren’t sleeping and how to fix it!