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Alexandra23 02-19-2011 08:15 PM

Hypothyroidism and Sleep
Hypothyroidism and Sleep, how does it affect you?

It's 3am here in the UK and yet again I can't sleep. I hate the tossing and turning of lying in bed unable to sleep yet exhausted.

I've had sleeping problems like this for years. I've tried many times to "reset my body clock", stay awake all day even when I feel like dropping down sleeping etc. I've cut down on coffee and Diet coke. I've had this problem for so long and it affects my quality of life badly. I've even come to be afraid of going to bed, it's just so horrible being so tired and not able to sleep for hours and hours and hours.

I don't know if this is hypothyroidism. When I recently started my medication I had two nights of good sleep which was miraculous. I also didn't have the anxiety dreams I normally get. Now I'm back to poor sleep.

Does hypothyroidism affect your sleep?

toomanypets 02-19-2011 08:45 PM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
I used to hate 3am. That was the time I always woke up and couldn't get back to sleep for a couple hours. It went on for months until I finally got treated for hypothyroidism. Now I sleep like a baby. So yes, hypothyroidism can cause insomnia. Hypothyroidism can affect any system of your body.

cd37 02-20-2011 06:50 AM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
You are experiencing what is called "interrupted sleep" which is, most definitely, a symptom of hypothyroidism.

Since you are still experiencing at least one symptom of hypothyroidism, I suspect you are experiencing others. You might want to Google "hypothyroidism symptoms" and check ALL the lists - I think I counted over 60 symptoms total!

Bottom line, since you are experiencing hypo symptoms, this tells me that your thyroid care has not been optimized.

Many doctors are all-too-happy to dose a patient so their levels are in the normal range....but not necessarily the patient's normal. Most often, patients are undermedicated.

Now, I'm not sure what labs your doctor runs for you but, if it's only TSH, that isn't enough. TSH is a pituitary hormone - you really need to see what your thyroid hormone levels are.

Do you have a FreeT4 level you would like to share with us? More likely than not, if you are being medicated properly, your FreeT4 level would be towards the high end of the normal ranges - that's the "place" most people feel/function best.

Knowing your FreeT3 level would be helpful but, it's my understanding that the Royal College of Physicians sees no merit in this test....nor do they advocate T3 replacement (synthroid/levothyroxine is T4 replacement).

So, we'll work with what we have :)

kindspirit 02-20-2011 09:11 AM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
I suffered for yrs with insomnia. Once I got up in dose it went away. I'm starting to get it again since I decreased my meds, so even a small adjustment can make a difference. Dr's like to blame "female hormones" and yes they play a role, but for me, its more thyroid related.

Alexandra23 02-20-2011 10:56 AM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
Thank you for your replies.

My TSH is 10.54 and my freeT4 is 11.

My doctor said my results were slightly high and treatment was optional. At my next appointment (my second so far) I asked for my actual results and got the results above. I thought since I was "slightly" over my TSH was going to be 3.5 or something, I was surprised it was 10.54 and treatment was optional, especially since I was completely exhausted all the time.

I'm on Levothyroxine. For the first 3 weeks I was on 50mg and I managed to get that up to 100mg on my next appointment. I've been on 100mg for the last 3 weeks.

I've looked at symptoms on the internet and I have a range of them, but I'm also aware that these same symptoms could be for other reasons. My doctor warned me that these pills weren't a "magic cure" for all my problems.

By problems I mean that I've suffered from depression off and on for over umm... 15 years. Even when I felt "better" I always felt there was an underlying depression that I could just never shake off. I really wonder now if this was hypothyroidism. I've also read that hypothyrodism can cause depression, and some doctors believe even mild hypothyrodism can cause major depression.

Having had depression for years, I've also had sleep problems for over 15 years. Not having proper sleep is incredibly draining. At bad times in the past (not sleeping at all) I've had sleeping pills but these of course can be addictive so not given out much. I've always been told to exercise more and eat healthily. Not great advice when you're so tired you can't move much. Even when I was having a better time of things and going to the gym four days a week I still had sleep problems.

Over the years I got the impression that bad sleep was my own fault because I am overweight and need to exercise more and eat more healthily. I needed to have stronger self will to set a strict sleeping time (I did try this many times) no matter how tired I was and if I didn't it was my fault.

I really hope the levothyroxine gives me better sleep but I know it takes quite a while to take effect so I just have to wait and see. But I don't feel I'm getting the full effect of these pills BECAUSE I'm not sleeping well. I don't know how to fix this.

Thank you for listening.

P.S. Since I've started levothyroxine I think my heart is beating more strongly, I don't think it's racing, just more strongly. I wonder if this helps me physically, pumping blood round my body more strongly, helping me do simple things like walking more easily. But it also makes it harder to sleep, especially when I wear earplugs. I hear my heart beating, beating.

toomanypets 02-20-2011 11:16 AM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
You need a new doctor! 10.54 is too high on anybody's scale. What's the range for free T4. My guess is that it's at the bottom of the scale. Your doctor doesn't know what's he's talking about.

kindspirit 02-20-2011 11:34 AM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
Wow, 10.54! your dr is a total nutcase to say "optional". I went suffering with a tsh of 3.5 for many yrs and not til it got to 7.6 did I get treatment. With a tsh of 10 you've had it for a long time. Find a new real doctor.
You might check with your local pharmacies and ask what doctors they have on file that are prescribing "natural" thyroid medications ( those doctors are more savvy). Good luck.:wave:

toomanypets 02-20-2011 11:44 AM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
You'd do well to educate yourself if you're going to have to deal with doctors like this. Most people need TSH to be AT LEAST under 2.0. Some need more around 1.0. It's an individual thing but I doubt anyone is well at 10! For free T4, you need to aim for at least the middle of the range. Again, it's an individual thing where each person has his/her own optimal values. At least you are on 100mcgs right now. That's a good start but you need to be monitored by someone who knows what they're doing. How hard will it be to switch doctors? I lived in the UK once and people tend to go to surgeries in their general area. Ask around, talk to your friends and your chemist. Somebody must know who is good at this stuff. Believe me, it's worth the hassle to get your life back.

FinnMaid 02-20-2011 12:01 PM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
[QUOTE=Alexandra23;4689156]I've been on 100mg for the last 3 weeks.
P.S. Since I've started levothyroxine I think my heart is beating more strongly, I don't think it's racing, just more strongly. But it also makes it harder to sleep, especially when I wear earplugs. I hear my heart beating, beating.[/QUOTE]If I was you I'd reduce the dose for awhile at least and see how it goes. Sounds like your dose could be a bit too high and you could try taking 75.

cd37 02-20-2011 12:42 PM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
I agree with what everyone has said...including FinnMaid....going from 50mcg to 100mcg is quite the jump.....maybe back down to 75mcg for 4-6 wks. and then take 88mcg....then 100mcg.

I have a few book recommendations, if you're interested.

This first book highlights a lot of the psychological aspects of thyroid disease as well as optimizing treatment: "The Thyroid Solution" by endo Dr. Ridha Arem

Another good read is "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypothyroidism" by endo Dr. Ken Blanchard.

Finally, a really easy read that covers all things thyroid: "Thyroid for Dummies" by endo Dr. Alan Rubin

Alexandra23 02-20-2011 05:12 PM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
Thank you for all your replies.

I had another look at my initial blood results that my doctor wrote down for me.

My TSH is 10.54 and my freeT4 is 11.

But this would make my freeT4 high?? :confused:

I appreciate what you are saying about going from 50mg to 100mg, and perhaps coming down a bit. I think, overall, it would be best for me to stay on the 100g for now and not change it. I'm going to have my next blood tests on my next appointment and I'd better stick with one dosage now or else my blood tests now and the next ones won't be able to show how effective the medicine is. But I will definitely keep it in mind and monitor myself.

I'll get my doctor to measure my heart rate and see if it's normal. I'll mention to her about feeling it beating more strongly. I have no idea how strongly a heart is supposed to beat, and I only notice it at night when I'm trying so hard to sleep.

My doctor is generally a nice and sympathetic person and I'd like to stick with her. I've changed doctors in the past due to changing where I live and know how many bad ones there are out there. I'm pretty sure if I bring her information she will listen and help. She gave me a website address to look up information and that's the first doctor I've come across that has actually wanted a patient to look up information on the web!

She said TSH rates can go a lot higher and she's had a patient with a TSH of over 70. But it seems from people here that even a small imbalance in a thyroid gland can make a big difference. I've also decided since reading people's own information that I need to get the optimal TSH and T4 for me, and not just get it into the laboratory normal range.

I've had at least one thyroid test, maybe two or three (I forget it's been a while) come back normal in the past, years ago, and now I wonder if my results were high back then too before they changed the test criteria in 2003 (from 0.5-5.0 to 0.3-3.0). I'm going to ask to see my medical file to find out past test results. If I've had a thyroid problem for many years it would explain a lot but I don't want to get my hopes up.

Do you think with a TSH of 10.54 I might have had it for some years?

toomanypets 02-20-2011 05:37 PM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
We would need to know the lab range in order to tell you where your free T4 sits. For Hypothyroidism, TSH is usually high and free T4 is usually low. If your range, for example, is 12-20 like some are, then your freeT4 is very low and supports you being hypothyroid. You would probably need it to be 16 or higher.
You could very well have had it for a while. I know I was having symptoms for 10 years with the last 2 being particularly bad before I was treated. I finally got treatment when my TSH hit a whopping 3.42 (being sarcastic here) and I eventually needed 125mcg Synthroid to feel normal again and bring my TSH down to just under 1.0. Ten years ago it was 3.24. So in ten years it didn't go up much but I certainly suffered for it. It seems that different people have their pituitaries respond differently to being hypothyroid. For me, my TSH didn't respond much and so my hypothyroidism was missed for so many years. For others, they can have a high TSH and not have any symptoms.

Alexandra23 02-20-2011 05:42 PM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
Thank you toomanypets, what do you mean by "lab range"? The free t4 test isn't the same for everyone?

toomanypets 02-20-2011 05:51 PM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
No, different lab run the tests differently. I really don't know how this works, maybe someone else can explain. My lab uses a range of 0.8 to 1.8. My sister's lab uses 12-20.

cd37 02-21-2011 05:36 AM

Re: Hypothyroidism and Sleep
I think the ranges have to do with the particular testing kit a lab uses.

TSH ranges are universal for some reason - the only problem with lab ranges for that is many labs have not updated their testing to include the "new" (2002) ranges established by the AACE - the correct ranges for TSH are .3 - 3.0 with TSH >2 as being suspect for hypothyroidism.

Bottom line, it's important to know "where" within the range the patient's thyroid hormone levels (FT4/FT3) "fit". Most people feel/function best with FT4/FT3 levels in the upper third or towards the top of the range.

PS TSH goes out the window for some Graves' patients due to the Graves' antibodies. I was in remission from Graves'-induced hyperthyroidism and then developed debilitating hypo symptoms with FT4/FT3 just below TSH was still below range. Thankfully, I had already partnered with a knowledgable doctor and she Rx'd levothyroxine for me.

TSH is really best left ignored when treating any type thyroid disease....better to look at the actual thyroid hormone levels - FT4/FT3 since they are more accurate indicators of thyroid function vs. the pituitary hormone TSH

Bottom line - in most cases, TSH goes high when the body needs more thyroid hormones and the thyroid isn't producing enough - so, your high TSH coupled with a most-likely-low in the range FT4 confirms your hypothyroidism. (I suspect your FT4 range is something like 9-23)

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