Thyroid Hormone and Sleep Quality

By Zana Carver, PhD

Do you struggle with poor quality sleep?  Thyroid health can play a significant role in both the amount and quality of sleep.  In addition, low thyroid levels can slow the action of the liver leading to a roller coaster of high and low blood sugar levels.  On the other hand, high thyroid levels can cause low blood sugar because it’s burned so quickly.

Image Courtesy of Adobe Spark

Blood Sugar and Sleep

Lately, I’ve been having the worst sugar cravings in the evening.  When I do indulge in sweets or carbs in the evening, I sleep poorly.  This causes me to wake up between 12:00 and 3:00 in the night with a racing heart, sweating, and full on panic.  The last time this happened, I even had nightmares . . . zombies quickly turning with freakish red eyes chasing and grabbing at me.  It was so scary I woke up and was too afraid to even try to fall back to sleep, but eventually, I did only to have more zombie nightmares.

In my and Gina’s latest book, The End of Chronic Fatigue, we mention how important keeping a stable blood sugar is to improve sleep quality.  Another factor that we do not always consider is light.  New research is shedding some light, so to speak, on the importance of light exposure to overall health.  Light exposure influences circadian rhythms, which control when we fall asleep, how well we sleep, and to some extent how much energy we have throughout the day. 

Light and Sleep

Light interacts with visual pathways, and the hypothalamus uses this information to balance hormones, such as melatonin and cortisol.  However, when we use any electronic device, including TV and computer screens, this unnatural level of blue light late in the evening can interfere with our normal circadian rhythms.  Likewise, not getting a full spectrum of natural light in the morning can cause us to feel more tired than usual. 

The good news is that this can be easily remedied by turning electronic devices off at least an hour before bedtime or turning the brightness down in the evening and increasing exposure to natural sunlight as early as possible in the morning.  If this is not feasible, there are products on the market including blue light blocking glasses and full spectrum light generators.  Mimicking natural patterns of light exposure are vital to maintaining healthy energy balance and for good health.

Additional Resources

If you would like to know more about the connection between thyroid health and sleep, or blood sugar balance and sleep quality, please visit Tuck, Advancing Better Sleep.


2 comments on “Thyroid Hormone and Sleep Quality

    • Thank you, Rachel. I still mess up with sugar, especially when traveling, but when I do it’s a great reminder! How is your cortisol, and how did you get it back on track?

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