Insomnia and PCOS + Hypothyroidism
Two of my main focuses are PCOS and hypothyroidism. Although the helpful resources I provide on Worthy Womanhood apply to women in all stages of life,. many times, I do post specifically about PCOS and Hypothyroidism, as they are both specialties of mine (along with Hashimoto's, SIBO, migraines, and many other focuses, like acne, eczema and beyond.)
Many, many times there is a common ailment that I see in my PCOS and Hypothyroid clients: insomnia. Typically, this is caused by an inability to relax, and also high levels of cortisol at night, when cortisol should truly be low. For most of my PCOS and Hypothyroid clients, a DUTCH test is a great answer to being able to better address their sleep struggles. Often, I will see low melatonin levels and high evening cortisol.
Here is an example of cortisol patterns. I see high and low patterns, but many times, things begin low and end high by the time evening comes around in those struggling with sleep. Typically, the waking (A) mark is in a low range, as is the mid morning and afternoon range, but the night range can be at the high range limit, which helps the racing heart while laying in bed make sense.
There are many things you can do to support your sleep if you do fit into this category, starting with supporting your adrenal glands, lowering stress, avoiding caffeine later in the day, and choosing to move earlier during the day, instead of having a later workout.
Support Your Adrenal Glands
The classic adrenal cocktail is a great choice (orange juice + salt + cream of tartar + collagen), and herbs such as ashwagandha, liquorice, and rhodiola are also great. Eating consistent meals, and getting out in nature are also two amazing ways to support your adrenal glands. Extra sodium can be excreted when under stress, so you might want to try adding a few extra sprinkles of salt to your food to see if that helps you as well.
One of the main stressors women put on themselves is not eating enough, both in quantity and in terms of consistency. Eating every 3-4 hours and aiming for 2,000 calories a day is ideal for most women. By making consistent nutrition the foundation of your stress management plan, you are acknowledging the power that nutrition has to either lower or increase stress.
Avoid Caffeine Later In The Day
For some, caffeine at any time is too much for their current state of health. Most who are in a healthy state do very well on caffeine, but many who a lot of help and are currently not in a great place might benefit from limiting or cutting caffeine out completely for a little while. If you choose to drink caffeine still, aim to stop consumption at 11 am. Doing this will help you not have high cortisol levels in the later day.
Move in the Morning
When you look at the cortisol pattern above (from the DUTCH test), you might have more of an understanding as to why I don't suggest evening workouts if you have a hard time sleeping. Cortisol will begin climbing whenever you workout, so working out when cortisol should be climbing/peaking is key. 8 am or 10 am is typically ideal for most who are unable to sleep at night when the have a later workout.
If you are in need of extra sleep support, a great go-to option is to run to the grocery store and grab Sleepytime tea. Even if you are traveling, they should have this at CVS or Walgreens. I suggest avoiding melatonin supplementation, or the use of sedatives, both over the counter or pharmaceutical, if at all avoidable.