4 Ways to Navigate Sleep Challenges: Melatonin’s Role in Thyroid Health

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Do you have a thyroid condition? And are you sleeping poorly, or not at all? 

It may or may not be melatonin. Let’s talk about sleep since disruptions and disturbances are sometimes connected to poor thyroid function. 

Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland primarily during the night, plays a crucial role in regulating sleep-wake cycles and has various other physiological functions, including some effects on the endocrine system. It supports immune function too. 

Melatonin Levels And Thyroid

As we age, and especially as we enter our sixth decade, melatonin levels begin to decline. Its relationship with thyroid function is complex and involves several mechanisms that I want to share with you. 

1. Regulation of Thyroid Function:

Melatonin directly influences thyroid gland function. It is involved in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, which controls the amount of thyroid hormone that you release into the blood stream. 

This hormone can affect the secretion of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) from the hypothalamus and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland, both of which play key roles in the regulation of thyroid hormone production. 

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2. Thyroid Hormone Metabolism:

Melatonin might help with how your body handles thyroid hormones. Specifically, it could play a role in changing T4, a less active thyroid hormone, into T3, which is more active and important for your body’s metabolism. This process involves enzymes called deiodinases, and melatonin may affect how these enzymes work. 

In other words, there is evidence that melatonin can improve conversion of thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3), which is important to you ultimately getting well.

3. Impact on Autoimmune Thyroid Disorders:

When talking about conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, melatonin might be beneficial because of its ability to act as an antioxidant and help regulate the immune system. Reduced levels will probably make those conditions worse.

Since these thyroid disorders involve inflammation caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid, melatonin could help calm this response. If you don’t have enough melatonin, these thyroid issues could get worse due to its role in controlling the immune system. Take a moment to read my other article on Hashimoto’s and Graves’ Disease, 8 Strategies To Reduce Histamine And Ease Hashimoto’s & Autoimmune Disorders.

Disruption of Melatonin Production:

If something messes up how this hormone is made in your body, like not sleeping well or being exposed to too much light at night, it could also mess with your thyroid. This is because problems with this hormone can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms, affecting the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, which helps regulate thyroid hormones.

In short, melatonin not only helps regulate sleep but also plays a role in managing thyroid health, especially in conditions where the immune system affects the thyroid.

Disruptions in Circadian Rhythms

Conditions that disrupt the normal production of melatonin, such as sleep disorders or exposure to light at night, could indirectly affect thyroid function. The disruption of circadian rhythms may impact the HPT axis and thus influence thyroid hormone levels.

While the exact nature and degree to which melatonin and thyroid health interact, it’s clear there is a negative impact on thyroid illness. We know that people who don’t sleep well, who are older in age (above 60) may respond well to sleep aid supplements that contain melatonin. 

You can eat foods rich in melatonin, or those that help you produce more melatonin naturally. I wrote another about that which provides more detail: 10 Popular Plants and Foods that Have This Hormone.

4 Ways to Navigate Sleep Challenges with Thyroid Disorders

  1. Minerals: More specifically selenium and zinc are two antioxidant minerals are important for thyroid hormone production and conversion. Selenium, in particular, is crucial for converting T4 to the more active T3 form. This mineral is present in my supplement HashiScript which is a patented thyroid-supporting formula with digestive enzymes. 
  2. Vitamin D: Adequate levels of Vitamin D are essential for immune function and may play a role in preventing autoimmune thyroid diseases. This is known to help modulate immunity as well as T cell and B cell function, and so much more. 
  3. Light Exposure: Reducing bright  light exposure at night, particularly blue light from screens before bedtime, can help maintain healthy melatonin levels, supporting both sleep quality and potentially thyroid function. 
  4. Melatonin Supplements: These might be beneficial for individuals with sleep disorders or irregular sleep patterns, but it’s essential to discuss with a practitioner, especially if you have thyroid conditions. There is 1 mg of melatonin in my Sleep Script Tranquility Caps by the way. 

Diet and Lifestyle for Thyroid Health

Anti-inflammatory Foods: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and fish, can help reduce inflammation, potentially benefiting those with autoimmune thyroid diseases.

Avoid Goitrogens: In some cases, reducing intake of goitrogenic foods (e.g., raw cruciferous vegetables) might be advised, as these can interfere with thyroid hormone production. Please read my latest blog on GOITROGENIC FOODS and how they impact thyroid disease. 

Stress Reduction: Practices such as yoga, meditation, and regular exercise can reduce stress, which may positively affect thyroid function and overall hormonal balance.

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Herbal Remedies

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): This adaptogen has been traditionally used to support thyroid function and might help balance thyroid hormones, particularly in hypothyroidism. This herbal extract is in my Thyroid Script!

Guggul (Commiphora mukul): Some research suggests guggul can enhance thyroid function by increasing thyroid hormone levels.

Medications

Medications to regulate thyroid function are specific to the condition (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism) and must be prescribed by a healthcare provider. For autoimmune thyroid diseases, immunomodulatory treatments might be considered.

Sleep is a powerful weapon when it comes to immune health! Read THIS ARTICLE next, and get a free ebook with sleep tips so you can sleep better tonight!

Summary

Think of melatonin not just as your sleep guardian angel but also as a peacekeeper for your immune system. For folks battling Graves’ or Hashimoto’s, where your immune system mistakenly turns on your thyroid, melatonin steps in like a gentle mediator. It whispers to your immune system, calming it down and reducing the unnecessary chaos, potentially easing those thyroid troubles. It’s all about bringing back harmony to your body’s inner workings.

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