5 ways your birth control is affecting your sleep
Did you know that your hormonal birth control can cause you sleeping problems?
Today, we're talking about all forms of hormonal birth control: the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, and the hormonal IUD.
All of these can actually have an impact on your sleep, even a copper IUD.
You might have actually been put on hormonal birth control by your doctor to help you sleep because a lot of women suffer from hormonal imbalances so they struggle with sleep during their ovulation and their period.
As a result, a lot of doctors prescribe the pill to balance out these hormonal fluctuations and improve their patient’s sleep.
However, this can actually be counterproductive.
So, let's dive a bit into how hormonal birth control works, what effects it has on the body and how those effects are potentially causing you sleep issues.
1. Birth control, estrogen & progesterone & sleep
Hormonal birth control works by suppressing ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries).
Through that, it lowers your natural levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone; and low levels of estrogen and progesterone both can lead to sleep issues as studies have shown.
A lot of women are experiencing once they go through peri-menopause and menopause.
2. Birth control, nutrients & sleep
Also, being on hormonal birth control depletes your body of certain important nutrients, of which several are very important for sound sleep.
These include vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, to list a few.
Magnesium is a calming mineral and it's very important for us to relax and to sleep in order to have sufficient amounts of magnesium in the body.
However, magnesium also needs vitamin B6 in the body to actually work and since the body is being depleted of both of these, even if you're supplementing with magnesium, it might not have that big of an effect on you.
This is why a lot of people who have sleep issues and supplement with magnesium, don't always see great results.
3. Birth control, gut health & sleep
You hear us talking a lot about this because gut health is fundamental to sleep.
The reason why is because all our neurotransmitters are made in the gut.
We need a healthy gut environment, the microbiome, for those neurotransmitters that calm us to be made.
Hormonal birth control leads to an imbalance of good and bad gut bacteria which we call "dysbiosis".
The pill actually kills the good gut bacteria and feeds the bad gut bacteria, some of them being yeast overgrowth (have you heard of candida?).
Interestingly, many of the nutrients that we require for good sleep are also crucial for gut health.
So, hormonal birth control depletes you of these nutrients and then also has an effect on your gut health.
For example, zinc is a very important mineral we need to produce stomach acid which we then need as our first line of defense against pathogens.
If we have good amounts of stomach acid, our gut is protected. If zinc levels are low, because we're taking hormonal birth control for instance, this lowers stomach acid and that can then harm the gut.
4. Birth Control, liver health & sleep
The fourth impact that hormonal birth control has is liver health. If we want to get quality sleep our liver also needs to be functioning properly.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), they believe that if you usually wake up between 1 and 4 AM, the time when the liver works hardest and does most of the detoxification in the body, it could be because your liver is overburdened and might need some support.
Hormonal birth control is a form of medication and it needs to be properly detoxified by the body.
The body sees it as a toxin and it will start detoxifying, but since you're taking it on a consistent basis is actually quite a burden on the liver on top of everything else we are being exposed to every day.
If the liver is burdened and clogged up, it will start releasing these toxins back into the system and this recirculation causes inflammation, which can disrupt your sleep.
5. Copper IUD, toxicity & sleep
You might have opted for a copper IUD to avoid hormonal birth control.
But is this really a better option when it comes to sleep?
And the short answer is: No.
A copper IUD isn't that great either because both - a copper IUD and hormonal birth control - can cause copper toxicity over the longer term.
Copper toxicity affects the body in two ways:
First, it causes an imbalance of copper and zinc in the body and second, the copper in your body becomes unavailable and gets stored in your tissue, your hair and your organs.
Eventually, it builds up to a level where it becomes toxic and can cause all kinds of symptoms, such as brain fog, irritability, sleep issues, depression, anxiety, etc.
We really underestimate the effect that hormonal birth control can have on our sleep.
So, if you’re a woman on birth control struggling with sleep, it might be worth investigating this to get to the bottom of your sleep issues.
I've personally struggled with copper toxicity from 15 years of birth control and a few years on a vegan diet (both don't support the body in moving copper out).
And I'v just worked with a woman who was on a copper IUD, which had majorly contributed to her sleep problems.
She never got more than 4 hours of sleep a night for 15 years. She had gut issues and mineral imbalances on top of (and partially because of the IUD) and she is now sleep 6 - 8 hours a night, depression and brain fog are gone too!
If that is something that you would like to explore or that you have questions about, please get in touch.
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