There are lots of benefits to getting a good night’s sleep: It boosts your mood, increases energy and helps keep your immune system strong so you stay healthy. Needles to say, it can be frustrating when you have trouble falling asleep or you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. There are certain ways you can help ensure a better night’s sleep, such as avoiding caffeine later in the day, exercising regularly and doing what you can to decrease stress.
It’s not only how much sleep you get that matters, but also when you get it. A bedtime of 10:30pm (at the latest) is advised so that you are asleep by 11pm when the Liver and Gallbladder start to regulate qi (or your vital force), process emotions, balance hormones and detoxify the body.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the window from 11 PM – 3 AM, which correlates to the Liver and Gallbladder, is most important in terms of maintaining health, especially as we age. We experience the deepest part of sleep during the first third of the night. This deep sleep, is the most restorative part of our sleep. During these hours the stress hormone cortisol is reduced and parasympathetic nervous system activity increases, which allows us to fully rest and move away from the fight or flight responses that dominate during waking hours. The quality of this type of sleep is associated with memory and learning. A lack of it can lead to reduced daytime functioning and alertness as well as waking up feeling unrefreshed. Further, human growth hormone, which is essential to repairing our bodies from daily injury and maintaining health, is released from 9pm-7am, making each hour of sleep during this time critical.
There is another aspect of hormones that comes into play when addressing sleep issues. By pinpointing trouble spots in your monthly cycle, where you might be more sensitive to certain changes, can help to shed light on why Mr. Sandman is making his presence less known.
If you think your lack of sleep is due to racing thoughts, this could be to the increase in estrogen levels which boost brain energy. If you feel like your mind is on overdrive and caffeine isn’t to blame, you may have too much estrogen in your system. However if it’s your growling belly is keeping you awake, your elevated progesterone may be to blame. Progesterone also has the task of slowing down your digestion, leading to night time heartburn or even bloating throughout the latter part of your cycle. And lastly, during the week before your cycle begins, your body experiences a large drop in estrogen levels, which then reducing your serotonin levels. This prevents your body from drifting into sleep easier, while becoming more sensitive to light, noise and overall discomfort. This is the time that most refer to as “premenstrual symptoms or PMS”.
The above symptoms help you to know what could be causing problem sleep in your cycle. You likely won’t be experiencing all of these cycle-related sleep woes. But, for the ones you do, knowing why they occur and what to do about them can go a long way toward getting the kind of solid slumber you crave.
If you suffer from sleep issues, and you believe your hormones may be out of balance, a simple test can help. Contact the office to get you started on your healthy pathway to getting more Z’s.