What just three months of bad sleep can do to your health
How can sleep deprivation affect your body in only three months?
Well, I tested it.
At the time of writing this post, it is the end of November.
As some of you may know from my newsletter, our son has undergone extensive surgeries over the summer, and we spend a lot of time not just in the hospital but also caring for him at home. This care includes changing his position throughout the night because he still needs support. Right now, he wakes up between two and ten times a night.
I can’t fall back asleep.
The first few months, the multiple wakings didn't even bother me that much.
I would wake up, change his position, go back to bed and go to sleep -
several times at night.
But the, a few months in, I started to feel off.
The stress took its toll.
I woke up in the morning, got out of bed with decent energy, and was done for the day. I couldn’t function. Brain fog and memory issues, anyone?
Then there were three nights in a row where I would wake up at around one in the morning, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. Not even by 4 or 5 AM.
NOT. AT. ALL.
On the third night, I decided I needed to do something because I was burning out, and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t sleeping.
I was suspecting an h. Pylori re-infection because that is something I have been treating myself for in the past.
So, what does a Sleep Like A Boss sleep coach do? She orders some functional tests, as I would do with my clients.
I took the GI MAP stool test from Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory. And then,
I took a stress and hormone test similar to the DUTCH test by Precision Analytical Inc., the hormone test I offer to all my clients.
And this is what I found.
(If you want to see the actual reports, click on the video below).
Why can’t I sleep? - My functional test results
Hormones and sleep
Since I had no energy left by 10 AM, I expected my cortisol (the stress hormone) to be low.
It wasn't just low - it was completely bottomed out. My adrenals had downregulated; they couldn’t keep up with the demands of cortisol I needed anymore.
And we do need cortisol; we need it to get up in the morning, we need it to have energy, to think clearly, and I was just tanked.
My results show that my cortisol levels were just inside the normal range in the morning, and after that, they dropped below. This means that I went through the day solely on adrenaline, which is neither good nor sustainable.
The other thing that has happened to me is that my sex hormones were pretty tanked.
That is not surprising after so much stress. My body was constantly in fight-or-flight, thinking it was threatened and needed to run for survival.
If that happens, the body moves all its energy to the essential systems it needs to function to survive - which is not procreation. Chronic stress can lower your sex hormones.
We need our sex hormones for a lot more than fertility.
We need them for energy, mood, heart health, bone health, - and SLEEP!
Low testosterone and low progesterone impact our ability to sleep well. I was getting night sweats, too - hello, sex hormone imbalance.
Gut health and sleep
Now, coming to those three nights in a row where I couldn’t go back to sleep.
At first, I thought that it could be a blood sugar or liver issue. But I had been taking good care of both, so I really didn't think that was the main issue.
This is where the gut test gave me the most insight; the GI MAP test showed that I didn't have any serious pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, not even H. Pylori, which I had had before.
The test showed that my good and bad gut bacteria were deficient. Low good bacteria can cause blood sugar regulation issues (I had no Akkermansia bacteria left), mood issues and more. On the other hand, good gut bacteria extract nutrients and energy from our food, maintain gut barrier function, produce vitamins and keep out harmful bacteria.
Now, this is already helping me explain some of my symptoms: fatigue, the irritability.
But something else happened: my test results showed a parasite for the first time ever!
And my practitioner first assumed that I had travelled because you often get this through fecal contamination - this could be food or bathroom hygiene in a different country or places like airport toilets or contaminated food.
But I hadn’t travelled in over a year.
I suspect I caught it at the hospital. I did go to the hospital with our son twice over the summer, for a week each time. And the first time, we did have a bathroom in his hospital room, which was very nice.
But the second time, we didn't, so we shared a toilet with everyone else on the ward. And even though there were tons of hand sanitizers everywhere, and I was diligent with bathroom hygiene, that's probably where I caught it.
And then it stuck because all the stress had lowered my stomach acid - which should have killed it. Or those good gut bacteria could have crowded it out - but they were also missing.
Having a parasite explains those crazy awakenings, those three nights in a row because I had not kept in mind that it was a full moon, and that is when parasites are especially active.
It Doesn’t Take Long
So those are my last three months in a nutshell. And I was a little shocked that it only took three months for all of this to happen.
It shows how quickly stress and not sleeping well can affect your body.
Now that I have addressed many of these issues, it's going to take a few months to get everything back up, but I’m starting to feel much better — way more energy during the day, better sleep and overall improved well-being.
If you've been going through a lot of stress and are not sleeping well - even after the stress has settled down, I encourage you to reach out and let us look at your situation together.
Let's test your gut, hormones, and detoxification to get your sleep and energy back on track.
We offer a FREE sleep assessment call to see how we can help you.