One of the most frequent questions I get asked about is how to regulate our hormones. Either we have too much estrogen, too little progesterone or our DHEA levels are out.
I know from my own experience that I tried all sorts of natural ways to regulate my hormones, believing that they were the cause and effect of Endometriosis. I tried:
- I followed the advice of many doctors telling me that the contraceptive pill would sort out my hormone imbalances. Nothing could have been further from the truth. It took years just to get some kind of normal!
- Supplements, which were supposed to help regulate my hormones, often landed up doing a funky twist and actually stimulated more estrogen! This included completely natural options which are being recommended by naturopaths. Phytoestrogens, which are plant-based hormones, were supposed to replace my excess estrogen and then create a balance. You can read more about phytoestrogens and my own findings about them here and here.
- Progesterone cream. Yes! This one was meant to be the answer to my prayers but sadly with its initial boost of feeling well, I started to experience extreme anxiety and panic. I loved how it felt to begin with, so reduced the dosage but alas, it was not meant to be.
I then went on a mad hunt trying to figure out why my hormones were so imbalanced. I seemed to get sore boobs, painful bloating and all the signs of too much estrogen each and every month. I couldn’t work it out! Here were all the things I was already doing, which were meant to serve my body well to create natural hormone balance:
- Eating enough fats in my diet to help my body to create the hormones it needs
- Avoiding getting too stressed and alleviating stress as much as possible
- Practicing yoga or meditation each day
- Moving my body and exercising
- Taking liver supplements or drinking teas to aid in detoxing all the hormones from my body
Ps If you aren’t doing these, I recommend adding them into your lifestyle.
Though my hormones seemed to be better, I still didn’t feel like I had a handle on them. They seemed so out of kilter! Each month I would be confronted with those usual indicators of hormone imbalance:
- Sore breasts
- Skin breakouts around that time of the month
- Feeling irritable or grumpy before my period
It was only when I picked up a copy of the Scientific American that it finally made sense… I just wasn’t sleeping enough or at the right time!
Of course I had to dive in deeper and what I discovered was that sleep does many very important things for our bodies.
Here are some key things to know about sleep:
- Provides extra immune strength for our bodies. According to Scientific American, an experiment revealed a dramatic difference in the ability for the body to provide antibodies when college students were injected with the hepatitis vaccine. It was dramatic! It was 97% higher antibody levels than those who were sleep deprived. Research also illustrated that long-term sleep deprivation has a dramatic effect on immune defences. So, don’t worry about those 8 hours—get as much as you can! (Scientific American, 2015)
- Lack of sleep increases glucose levels in our blood. This is not great if you are trying to lose weight, have inflammation in the body or are struggling with sugar cravings. Lack of sleep simply makes you more hungry! Studies have shown that if we have fewer than 10 hours of sleep a night, we are more likely to become obese. (Scientific American, 2015)
- It will make you feel happier! According to a study conducted by Matthew P. Walker at the University of California, people who were sleep deprived noticed and remembered negative words or statements more than they did positive ones! Hmmmm… interesting!
- Has an effect on our hormone balance. Our hormones are incredibly delicate and they all interlink with each other. When we go against our natural circadian rhythm and stay up late, wake up late, we are throwing out more than our sleep and energy patterns. It affects all our hormones, including the ones that regulate and control Endometriosis.
So, how do you prepare for sleep and make sure you are adequately sleep replenished?
- Aim to be in bed by 10pm each night.
- Make your bedroom a happy place. No dirty sheets or stuff lying around everywhere. Make this your sanctuary and love it more than any other room in the house. Make it really dark and use natural oil on your pillow which helps to soothe you to sleep.
- Create a sleep preparation time. Switch off mobile devices, TVs and computers or lay down anything that stimulates your mind an hour before bed. Focus on things that relax you and help you unwind, like soft music, a beautiful book with lovely images or stories which don’t stimulate your mind too much or some light yoga.
- Aim to rise earlier than usual. This is just habit but something your body will adapt to. You will feel less stressed and more focused throughout the day, when you don’t wake up rushing and running behind!
- Enjoy sleeping. I know this sounds simple but go into bed enjoying the experience of sleep. Allow yourself to dream, to float and to let go.
I hope this encourages you to make sleep a priority. I know it has shifted some big stuff for me in the last few months! I can’t believe the difference it makes!
Got questions? Ideas? Suggestions to share with others on sleeping better or insights on why we need it? Feel free to share in the comments below…
[otw_shortcode_content_toggle title=”Reference” opened=”closed” icon_type=”general foundicon-checkmark”]Scientific American, Oct 2015. Sleep on it! by Robert Stickgold. [/otw_shortcode_content_toggle]