There are dozens of different hormones that work together in your body to help keep you healthy inside and out. But of the many hormones in your body, which hormones affect sleep?
You may be familiar with one or two hormones affecting your sleep, but some may surprise you.
Before we list the top hormones affecting your sleep quality, you should first understand the role your sleep plays in regulating and producing your body’s hormones.
The Role of Sleep in Hormone Production
While you sleep each night, your body is hard at work recovering from the previous day and preparing for the next. Part of this process involves producing and regulating many of your body’s hormones.
Hormones are chemical messengers that act as messenger molecules in your body. These hormones are responsible for maintaining your bodily functions, including but not limited to:
- Hunger, appetite, and blood sugar
- Circadian rhythm and your sleep-wake cycle
- Sexual function
- Body temperature
- Cardiovascular function
- Muscle and tissue repair
A good night’s sleep is vital to healthy hormone production and secretion.
Poor sleep quality and short sleep duration can hinder not only hormone levels, but how your hormones are produced and how they interact with each other. This can lead to hormone imbalance as well as any comorbidities that can result from that imbalance, like thyroid diseases, sexual dysfunction, and even sleep disorders.
Hormones that Affect Sleep
While sleep is instrumental to hormone production, some of your body’s hormones can impact your sleep quality as well. Here are five vital hormones that can impact your sleep quality for better or for worse.
Often referred to as the “sleep hormone,” melatonin is directly responsible for promoting healthy rest and regulating your body’s circadian rhythm. Most of your body’s hormones are produced in your brain’s pituitary gland— melatonin is produced in the pineal gland, which is associated with your sleep-wake cycle.
Sleep disruption or poor quality sleep can negatively impact your body’s melatonin production. And because a good night’s sleep is so important to your overall health and wellbeing, it’s vital to manage melatonin with proper sleep.
Many Americans don’t get enough quality rest each night, and many take a melatonin supplement to help them sleep. As a result, melatonin is one of the most commonly taken health supplements today.
Progesterone and Estrogen
Although these two hormones are best known for their roles in women’s reproductive health, both men and women produce progesterone and estrogen.
Estrogen, the main “female” sex hormone controls a woman’s menstruation cycle. There are three main types of estrogen: estradiol, estriol, and estrone. These forms of estrogen are produced at different times in a woman’s life, such as during childbearing age, pregnancy, and menopause.
Progesterone helps maintain pregnancy, and its levels are at its highest during that time.
Progesterone levels and estrogen levels fluctuate during the various stages of a woman’s life, influencing sleep quality along the way. This happens most frequently around the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause.
Many women report sleeping poorly during these times, especially if they experience side effects like menstrual cramping, body pain during pregnancy, or hot flashes during menopause. Because of these hormonal changes, women are more likely to experience insomnia than men.
Similar to progesterone and estrogen, testosterone is produced in all bodies, and isn’t just the “male” sex hormone. In both men and women, testosterone works to support reproductive health and bone health.
Testosterone levels fluctuate during the day, and they’re at their highest during REM sleep. If you’re not getting enough REM sleep, it can affect your body’s testosterone levels.
Reduced testosterone can sometimes be linked to snoring and insomnia symptoms as well, which can create a vicious cycle of reduced testosterone levels and poor sleep.
Sleep regulates cortisol, often known as the “stress hormone.” However, this isn’t cortisol’s main purpose. Along with melatonin, cortisol is key to maintaining your sleep pattern.
When you wake up, your cortisol level temporarily spikes, helping to wake you up and feel refreshed as melatonin production reduces. As you approach your bedtime, cortisol production reduces as melatonin production ramps up, helping your body prepare for sleep.
Elevated cortisol levels can negatively impact your sleep, most often as a result of stress and electronic devices suppressing your body’s melatonin production.
Do Hormones Cause Insomnia?
Not exactly. While some hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone can contribute to insomnia— especially in premenstrual women, pregnant women, and women in menopause— those problems are temporary and resolve once hormone levels return to normal.
However, not getting enough sleep to start can affect your hormones, which can cause future sleep problems. To make matters worse, this can create a vicious cycle of poor sleep and hormone imbalance.
While your hormones may not be entirely to blame for insomnia, they are actually closely connected to another sleep disorder— sleep apnea.
Sleep-disordered breathing and sleep apnea can impact hormone levels, which in turn can exacerbate breathing difficulties at night. Having sleep apnea may be at increased risk of developing metabolic or endocrine disorders as well, due to the hormonal imbalance.
Some sleep issues will go away on their own, but if you’re experiencing consistently poor sleep, sleep loss, or daytime sleepiness alongside hormone imbalance, then you may have a sleep disorder.
If you have a sleep disorder, it won’t go away on its own. It’s important to seek a professional evaluation, either with your doctor or a certified sleep expert.
It’s natural for your hormones to fluctuate throughout the day and night— but they shouldn’t prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Contact us today at the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee to start getting back to the restful and rejuvenating sleep you need.
Zisapel, Nava. “New Perspectives on the Role of Melatonin in Human Sleep, Circadian Rhythms and Their Regulation.” British Journal of Pharmacology, John Wiley and Sons Inc., Aug. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6057895/.Chen, Jennifer. “Women, Are Your Hormones Keeping You up at Night?” Yale Medicine, Yale Medicine, 10 July 2017, www.yalemedicine.org/news/women-are-your-hormones-keeping-you-up-at-night.