Hormones control and regulate almost every system in our entire body. Because it’s supposed to run like a well-oiled machine, when one thing goes wrong, it can have a domino effect on other parts of your health. Because of hormones’ importance, the thyroid can be extremely important in regulating several systems.
Having an under or overactive thyroid can cause weight gain, weight loss, dizziness, fatigue, and several other more insidious symptoms. But, did you also know that your improperly functioning thyroid can also cause sleep problems?
One of the best ways to see if your thyroid is going haywire is to undergo a blood test. Here are the ways your thyroid can impact your sleep.
Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland overproduces the thyroid hormone. It’s occasionally referred to as overactive thyroid. Having an excess of this hormone can lead to an increase in metabolism that gives you side effects like unexpected weight loss, sweating, irritability, and/or an irregular heartbeat.
However, some of those who have an overactive thyroid may never experience any symptoms at all. So it’s essential to have routine blood tests to ensure normal function. If you do have an overactive thyroid, it’s possible you’ve experienced uncomfortable sleep symptoms like night sweats or restlessness.
If you are diagnosed with an overactive thyroid, there are some treatments available to you to regulate the hormone, but be sure to talk to your doctor before pursuing any kind of treatments on your own. Here are a list of other hyperthyroid symptoms for you to reference:
- Excess sweating
- Heat intolerance
- Warm skin
- Excessive hunger
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
- Panic attack
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Fast heart rate
- Irregular menstruation or short and light menstruation
- Abnormal protrusion of eyes or puffy eyes
- Hair loss
- Muscle weakness
On the flip side, hypothyroidism is when you have an underactive thyroid that is not producing enough of your thyroid hormone. A deficiency of this hormone causes disruptions in your heart rate, body temperature, and other aspects of your metabolic system. Those who are at highest risk of developing hypothyroidism are older women.
Unlike hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism has symptoms like unexpected weight gain slowed heart rates, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, and constipation. However, similar to its cousin, hypothyroidism can also cause fatigue.
Hormone replacement is a common treatment for this problem, so it’s important to consult your doctor for testing if you experience any combination of the following symptoms:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Unexplained weight gain
- High cholesterol
- Sexual dysfunction
- Slow heart rate
- Irregular uterine bleeding
You don’t need to exhibit ALL of these symptoms to be diagnosed, so even one is cause for talking to your doctor.
Testing for Sleep Problems
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can result in problems that interfere with a good night’s sleep. The most prevalent would be obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. OSA is a pretty common sleep disorder among several different demographics. It’s possible that you may have OSA and have no idea that you have it. Those who suffer from OSA can experience excessive daytime fatigue, lethargy, irritability, and waking up several times a night.
Because some of the symptoms of OSA overlap with symptoms of thyroid disorders, the two can be difficult to differentiate from each other based on medical history alone. As such, it’s important to ask your doctor specifically about the possibility of having OSA if you are diagnosed with a thyroid problem.
Not only this, but those with hypothyroidism are at an increased risk of developing OSA because your respiratory system could be compromised. Hypothyroidism can also lead to an enlarged tongue which can contribute to airway obstruction during sleep.
If any of these issues sound like you, then it’s important to get tested as soon as possible for OSA. ApneaMed offers home testing options so you can undergo sleep testing from the comfort of your bed--no need to visit a hospital right now. In the event you are diagnosed with OSA, then you will likely be prescribed CPAP or AutoPAP therapy.
CPAPs and AutoPAPs
It’s widely understood that continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, therapy is one of the best ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP therapy works by providing a constant stream of light air pressure that works to keep airways free of blockages during sleep. By fixing blockages, the airway pressure basically fixes the problem at its source. Once you stop experiencing blocked airways, your body will stop trying to adjust itself and pull out of deep sleep.
AutoPAP machines use the same basic principles as CPAP machines, but they are slightly newer and more advanced in how they deliver the airway pressure treatment. AutoPAPs adapt to your individual breathing by increasing air pressure when it senses blockages but easing off when it doesn’t.
By switching between a couple different air pressure levels, your doctor or sleep apnea equipment provider can further personalize your settings and help treat your specific OSA. Because these machines are auto-adjusting, you’ll need to check in with your doctor or equipment provider before making any changes to your settings.
Make sure to follow up with ApneaMed and see if you may qualify for home sleep testing here. Your sleep and overall health is imperative to your quality of life, so take every step you can to ensure you’re living your best life every day.