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Can your hormones keep you awake at night?

If you still struggle to get quality sleep, you might want to take a look at your hormones and the role they play at night

With National Bed Month upon us and the clocks about to go forward (nixing an hour of slumber), now's the perfect time to look at how hormones can influence our quality of sleep.

Dr Sohere Roked, Hormone & Integrative Medicine Doctor, discusses the role of sleep hormones, how they affect our shut eye and her expert tips for achieving nighttime restoration.

Sleep hormones

 The hormone melatonin is an important contributor to many biological and physiological regulations in the body; it is also an effective hormone for human biorhythm (circadian rhythm). The main role of this hormone is to maintain the biological clock and to adjust the body rhythm – disrupted or poor sleep can have an impact on melatonin and its function for promoting sleep in the brain. Various hormone functions and their release are impacted by sleep or circadian rhythm and vice versa. Getting sufficient sleep is essential for regulating a range of hormones such as cortisol, oestrogen and progesterone, hunger hormones (like insulin, leptin and ghrelin), melatonin, thyroid hormones and growth hormones.

Menopause & menstruation 

A lot of people suffer with sleep issues, and this can be menopausal or peri-menopausal, or even pre-menstrually driven. Progesterone is the hormone we make that helps with sleep, and it is low before a period, fluctuates in peri menopause and is often low in menopause. Individuals on HRT taking bio or body identical progesterone often find it improves their sleep. There are other things that affect sleep – and it’s a topic close to my heart because my sleep was troublesome for years – and if you don’t sleep well, you don’t feel good, your metabolism depletes and many other functions are affected.

Sleep medication

Sleep medication such as sleeping pills may have you nodding off for several hours during the night, but this kind of pill is hypnotic and can restrict the deeper brain waves that are produced during REM sleep – this can result in bleariness and fatigue the following morning. Those who feel sluggish the next day are more likely to consume more caffeine and sugar, making sleep difficult and perpetuating the cycle. Similar consequences are mirrored with the consumption of alcohol. The actual quality of your sleep can be enhanced when your circadian rhythm is synchronised.


Magnesium: Magnesium can be taken nightly (approx. 500mg).  I like Wild Nutrition’s Magnesium, Magnesium Citrate, or Magnesium Glycinate – I personally find that this works really well.

Ashwagandha: We are often driven by our stress hormones, for example if there’s a lot on our mind or it’s a frantic period, we can wake up in the early hours with a churning mind and can’t get back to sleep. I often take an ashwagandha supplement at night, it’s an adaptogen that helps lower cortisol (a stress hormone). I also recommend rhodiola, and the amino acid L'theanine can help with managing the adrenals.

Melatonin: Melatonin does need to be prescribed by a doctor, but I find it really helps with getting to sleep quicker and deeper. That’s because we all make melatonin naturally between 10pm and 2am, but our environment needs to be pitch black – no phone, blue light or TV etc – these devices affect the amount of melatonin we produce and in turn our quality of sleep.

White noise: A white noise machine produces a sound that calms the listener. I had one myself as I’m a very light sleeper and the tiniest sound will wake me up! It helped to drown out excess noise and focus my mind.

Wind down: Having a wind down routine helps, for example reading, meditation, journaling or  writing a gratitude list before bed.

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