Lack of sleep, which hormones?
Today we are celebrating the International Sleep Day, the perfect occasion for me to remind you of the importance of sleep! As you probably know, sleep is essential to the well-being and stability of a person. A human being needs to sleep, on average, between six and eight hours per night. There are 5 different stages of sleep; stages 1 and 2 are considered as “superficial sleep” while stages 3 and 4 are considered as “deep slow sleep”. Finally comes the phase of REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), during which the muscle tone is abolished before we start dreaming. A night of sleep involves four to six cycles of these five stages of sleep until we wake up in the morning.
Did you know that…
| If you have trouble falling asleep when you go to bed or after waking up in the middle of the night, you may have a melatonin deficiency.
| If your sleep is superficial and you feel that your nerves and muscles are tense at night, you may have melatonin or growth hormone deficiency.
| If you have trouble going to bed before midnight, you may have a lack of melatonin and thyroid hormones.
| The energy provided by cortisol helps the body to wake up.
| GABA before bed can work wonders by relaxing your muscles completely.
| 5-HTP and tryptophan can help people with severe sleep disorders in the second half of the night.
How does our nutrition affect our sleep?
Here are some nutritional tips to help you sleep better:
| 5-HTP, a precursor of melatonin, exists in two types; the one extracted from saffron, which reduces anxiety and promotes sleep, and the other one obtained from plants called “Griffonia” that have the ability to improve mood and that also has an appetite suppressant effect.
| Avoid caffeinated drinks and foods (coffee, tea (even green), cola-based sodas, dark or milk chocolate) and alcohol, as they reduce the production of melatonin and promote the restless legs syndrome.
| Lack of sleep can cause bulimia, two hormonal phenomena come into play then; a deficiency of leptin and an excess of ghrelin, in this case, we tend to prevail hunger at the expense of satiety. People tend to eat more sugary products or salted biscuits, for example, which causes a state of excitation. They will then have less desire to sleep and more to eat.
Sleep, a whole hormonal process
Melatonin, also known as the “sleep hormone” promotes a more relaxed sleep and therefore, a rest of better quality. Let’s not forget that rest is a key factor to live a healthy life. Sleep also allows the immune system to (re)set itself overnight. Once you wake up, it is cortisol that replaces melatonin to allow attention and awakening and mobilize immune capacity.
Melatonin is secreted when daylight wanes, which is why we want to rest earlier during the winter. The hormone also soothes anxiety and nervousness. Inadequate presence of these hormones causes behavioral problems such as those encountered among adolescents who do not sleep enough. In sleep-deprived adults, however, there is an exponential increase in anxiety, nervousness, and anger, as well as a lack of recognition.
Melatonin also relaxes muscles. Some people feel tension at this level which prevents them from having a good sleep; we can mention for example the restless legs syndrome, a melatonin supplement can then be administered and calm this kind of disorders.
Thyroid hormones are responsible for growth as well as body development. However, they can be in a state of hypofunction or hyperfunction when there is an insufficient or excessive production of hormones. This excess of thyroid hormones can cause insomnia, especially through a disorder of the nervous system causing hyperactivity, irritability and a state of stress. You should know that insomnia occurs when the heart rate accelerates. This has consequences on the physical as well as on the psychic of the individual. If the problem is localized and proves to be related to the presence of an excess of thyroid hormones, it is necessary to go through a treatment of hyperthyroidism.
Growth hormone is intended to bring inner peace and serenity, it also helps children grow and adults to have a firm body with toning muscles and elastic skin. When our sleep is shortened, its rate decreases. It is also known to improve the phases of deep slow sleep and paradoxical sleep.
People with growth hormone deficiency suffer from a lack of deep slow sleep and REM sleep. They are blocked in the first two stages of sleep which are light, superficial and ineffective. Therefore, we observe in these people a constant state of exhaustion.
How do blue screens influences our sleep?
We live in an era where technology has taken over, we are practically all on our digital devices, whether for personal or professional reasons. It turns out that the blue light of these screens is one of the major causes of sleep disorders. As we have seen a little before, melatonin begins its process of secretion during the evening; it means that we will begin the sleep period, but why? Well, because this hormone is secreted thanks to the darkness and its quantity decreases considerably when we look at a light as intense as the one of our screens. Measures should, therefore, be taken in relation to the intensity and the tone of the light or the proximity of the eye. The National Institute of Sleep and Vigilance has made recommendations to find sleep more easily and improve its quality, one of the most important being; leave out any digital device with a screen 1:10 before bedtime.