Scott: Is sleep, or lack of it, as we age a sign of hormone issues? Everybody seems to complain of not sleeping.
Erin Lommen, ND: Yes, very much. Good question. Very much, and in fact, some of the work that I do, I delved into looking further into sleep for everybody. Sleep and appetite are so intricately bound, too. Someone who is not sleeping well will have increased appetite. Leptin and ghrelin are the two hormones that regulate that. There are all kinds of studies, but if we don't get seven hours we're going to be more prone to disruptions in hormones and weight gain. They even show scales of two to four a night has this propensity of obesity.
They've really, 'they' as in the literature documents, some pretty interesting things about sleep. We need to sleep, and seven seems to be the magic number. Not that everybody hits that, but less than that, even if people think they feel well, the body doesn't quite rejuvenate and recalibrate the way that it needs to.
Scott: So how does someone get back on track in terms of sleep, because you know if somebody gets up early they are frustrated. They can't sleep. They get mad. They are grumpy throughout the day.
Erin Lommen, ND: Absolutely. And then it's a vicious cycle of that wired and tired phenomenon that happens where you're exhausted, lie down, and of course the committee starts and you can't get to sleep.
The adrenal work I do I have to say is a first place I look to help someone. If you think about stress and the stress regulating hormones, cortisol is a big one. If cortisol doesn't go down at night, it's supposed to be minimal by midnight, then melatonin will not be secreted. They are in a sense two sides of the same coin. That's just one very direct place we look and we have to get that cortisol down at night.
You are supposed to be very robust in the morning and then that curve falls for the rest of the day. We need melatonin for good REM sleep and it won't be secreted by the body if we don't have lower cortisols at night. That's just one area to look at biochemistry and we can supplement and help with nutrients, too.
Scott: That's what I was going to say. Melatonin is a supplement that's been pretty popular over the past couple of decades. Is that something that you recommend?
Erin Lommen, ND: It is. I don't do any blanket recommendations for hormones. I think they are all very powerful and they all have interactions with all the other hormones. As a blanket statement, I don't say everybody should run out and take melatonin, but when I am working with a patient and I've tested and looked at all these areas, then yes, melatonin is a hormone I will use to help sleep. If someone has good responsiveness in the body still, they will return to good production of melatonin, usually, if you start to balance the adrenals and things.