Tired? Exhausted? Hypothyroid? A common symptom of hypothyroidism is fatigue. While most people are aware of this symptom, a great majority of those people think there is nothing they can do about it. People are under the impression that fatigue is something you just have to live with when you have hypothyroidism. True, the symptom may not go away even when you are being treated, but there is something you can do to alleviate the fatigue. The answer is simple; get more sleep! That may seem obvious, but many people don’t get the sleep they require.
So, how much sleep do you require? According to the National Sleep Foundation the amount of sleep that is required depends on the age of the individual. The following is the amount of sleep that people should be getting according to the NSF.
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours/night
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours/night
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours/night
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours/night
- School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours/night
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours/night
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours/night
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours/night
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours/night
There are more health risks to lack of sleep than just the feeling of fatigue. True, in the case of hypothyroidism fatigue is a symptom, but if that symptom goes on without being addressed or if you write it off and don’t get the sleep required, it can cause many other issues such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, headaches, depression, late reaction time, and earlier mortality (according to a 2010 study from the University of Warwick).
Sleep is a huge part of your well-being. That is the time that the body recuperates. While this may be a simple fix to a symptom of hypothyroidism it can be difficult for some to do. The NSF has a few tips to make it easier to fall asleep and have more restful sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Yes, that means weekends, too. Most of us tend to see the weekend as a time when rules are thrown out the window especially when it comes to sleep because there is no need to wake up early the next day. However, by throwing caution to the wind and ignoring your normal bedtime it can alter your body’s clock and make it harder to stay asleep during the night.
- Avoid naps. While that sounds like a horrible thing to say because naps can be nice for that midday crash it can actually cause difficulty when trying to fall asleep at night.
- Wind down. The body can’t just jump into sleep mode it needs to be eased into it. Try doing something calming like reading an hour before bed. Also, try to avoid the use of phones, laptops, and other electronic devices before falling asleep. The light from these types of electronics is a power source for the brain and can cause it to stay active making it nearly impossible to fall asleep.
For more helpful tips, go to the NSF website, https://www.sleepfoundation.org. They also have a helpful section on how to make your bedroom more sleep friendly. It is important to remember that the solution to some symptoms, in this case fatigue, isn’t always alleviated by an increase in your thyroid medication. However, some people have found it helpful to take a melatonin supplement before going to bed. Melatonin is a hormone made by a small gland in the brain and it helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Do you have any tips to help alleviate fatigue and get a better night’s sleep? Share them with us!