What does estrogen domiance and sleep have to do with fertility? Did you know that melatonin, one of the hormones responsible for regulating sleep, also helps protect our bodies from increases in estrogen, which in turn helps support a healthy reprodutive system?
Why should we care?
Estrogen is a hot topic in the fertility world these days. Many women are being diagnosed with estrogen dominance, yet many are not provided any real solutions.
First, estrogen dominance is an imbalance of estrogen in the body compared to progesterone, which helps to balance out estrogen. Why does this matter? Like most things, too much estrogen circulating within the body can interfere with the menstrual cycle and glucose metabolism – both critical for women who are trying to conceive.
Common Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Excess weight (especially around the hips)
Increased PMS symptoms
Fibrocystic lumps in the breast tissue
Swelling of the breasts
History of varicose veins/fibroids
There are many factors that could be contributing to your estrogen dominance and poor sleep could be one of them. Poor sleep in this case includes not getting enough hours of sleep due to waking through the night and or having a hard time falling asleep when you go to bed.
FYI, want more? In this article, I explore how we acquire estrogens from our diet and environment and what to do about it.
Ok, so let’s explore sleep best practices when it comes to hormonal regulation.
Problem #1. Can’t fall asleep
This is a common problem, but luckily also one that can be sorted with a few minor adjustments to your routine BEFORE you go to bed.
Follow the below steps each evening:
- Try to avoid stimulating foods and drinks (at least 4-5 hours before bed). This varies with each person so you may have to adjust accordingly. Stimulating foods/drink examples include sugar (alcohol, processed sugary foods, pop) and caffeine.
- Set the mood. When the sun goes down, that is one signal to our body that it’s time to start preparing for sleep. If you have all the lights on in the house, your brain may become too stimulated and not produce adequate hormones needed for proper sleep. So, turn your overhead lights off and opt for floor and table lamps, it’s cozier this way anyways.
- If cleared by your primary healthcare provider, consider a herbal sleepy tea about an hour before bed
- Approximately 45 minutes before lights out, have a warm shower. This not only relaxes the body, but aids in thermoregulation. Fun fact, during the shower, your body heats up a bit. Once out, the water evaporates from your skin, cooling you down—this sends a message to your brain that it’s time to relax and go to sleep.
- Once in bed, avoid screen time and stimulating books. Opt instead for easy reads (with a low lighting) and or meditation/breathing exercises to help you focus on the task at hand – sleep.
Problem #2 Can’t stay asleep
Waking up in the middle of the night is frustrating, especially if you have a hard time falling back asleep. This too unfortunately can lead to a lack of sleep and a disruption in the protective benefits of melatonin. Common offenders include stress, washroom breaks, and blood sugar fluctuations.
Consider the following tips to avoid waking up through the night in addition to the above sleep routine:
- What you eat in the day can impact how you sleep at night. A diet that consists of too many simple carbohydrates that cause your blood sugars and insulin to fluctuate even through the night. This can lead to frequent periods of wakefulness. Make sure your diet is balanced with complex carbs (beet, lentils, quinoa), lean protein (eggs, nuts, poultry) and healthy plant-based fats (avocado, olive oil) to help regular blood sugar and insulin.
- If you are waking for frequent bathroom breaks, the obvious suggestion is to reduce the amount of liquid you consume before bed. Back off a little more each night until you figure out how much you can drink without having to get up. Other factors to consider are stress which can lead to increased need for the washroom and blood sugar imbalances.
- Stress can wreak havoc on your hormones! Remember the melatonin I mentioned above – the really important hormone for helping to regulate estrogen? Well, if your hormones are not functioning the way they should be, then melatonin won’t be functioning well either. For suggestions on how to manage stress check out this article or download our free Cope and Calm handbook – collection of resources for those TTC who need support managing stress and worries.
- Also consider removing any clocks from sight. The light impact some people’s sleep and the constant reminder of the time can be stressful when trying to fall back sleep.
- Lastly, if you find your mind spinning, consider keeping a pad of paper and a pen close by. Writing down your thoughts may enable you to put those thoughts aside until the morning.
Finding ways to improve your sleep with the goal of achieving 7-8 hours/night of uninterrupted sleep is critical. It helps to maintain a general sense of wellness but also just might be part of the solution for improving your estrogen dominance and improving your fertility potential.
Improve your fertility status
Need more fertility suppport? The myMindBodyBaby Fertility Framework© provides the foundational guidance for supporting an improved fertility status and higher clinical pregnancy and live birth rates for both natural cycles and those requiring assisted reproductive technology.