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Insomnia is the condition wherein one has persistent problems of falling and staying asleep. Usually when you notice symptoms of sleeplessness, the most common advice is to reduce stress and get to bed at a fixed hour. Some would say sleep early, others might start popping pills straightaway. But like other ailments, Insomnia too has its causes that can be tricky to figure out.
Firstly, trying to sleep better almost never helps because insomnia makes it harder for you to get better, and your inability to get better perpetuates your sleeping problems. It’s a vicious cycle. The causes for insomnia can be anything, literally. Past trauma, stress, anxiety, physical ailment, depression, or even a condition like PCOS.
Women with PCOS often confront a variety of sleep disorders, with many reporting insomnia. PCOS is rooted in a condition called Insulin Resistance – a condition where the body is not able to absorb glucose from the bloodstream as it once did. (This is also the cause that creates a gateway for diabetes.) When the body, especially the ovaries, perceives a lack of insulin, it responds by creating excess hormones. It is this hormonal imbalance that produces such a wide range of effects; for instance, an increase in testosterone production which can cause fertility problems, male pattern baldness, and stubborn abdominal weight gain.
And yes, you guessed it – insulin and insomnia are closely linked. But what exactly is the link between the hormones, the ovaries and insulin that promote Insomnia? The complete understanding of the actual mechanism could be a daunting task for many, but here’s a quick overview of how it happens:
In women with PCOS, their pancreas works doubly hard to keep up the blood glucose levels within normal limits because of Insulin Resistance. These glucose fluctuations can trigger your body to pump out epinephrine or norepinephrine, which basically prompts your body’s fight-or-flight response that we get during emergencies or instances when we feel threatened. This could make falling asleep very difficult as your confused body is physiologically preparing you for some fictional battle which is definitely not the situation in reality.
Insomnia isn’t the only side effect of insulin resistance caused by PCOS. Problems with glucose synthesis can make you feel very tired but still unable to sleep, thereby making PCOS and sleep issues problematic. PCOS can also lead to obesity, which in turn creates the risk of PCOS Sleep Apnea, a serious condition where your airway (trachea) constricts and you’re unable to breathe properly.
So, if you are facing any of the above symptoms that point towards insomnia or sleep apnea, do get yourself checked for PCOS even if you don’t have most of its other symptoms. On the contrary, if you are someone already aware of your PCOS, seek treatment today. As a woman with PCOS, you must know that lifestyle changes, such as better diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation like inositol or zinc help tremendously with PCOS Insomnia and improve your sleep. So, no matter how small the symptom is, if it’s bothering you, don’t ignore.
Insomnia doesn’t take long to go from a mere sleep issue to a life disrupting problem. Get treated and stay healthy.