A Lack Of Sleep Can Make You An Angrier Person

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If I miss out on even the littlest bit of rest, I am the world’s grumpiest person. In my defense, it makes sense: Sleep is essentially the most important part of wellness. And according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, lack of sleep has the ability to intensify feelings of anger, which explains my unshakably grumpy disposition when I lack sleep.

Now, it might seem like it goes without saying that you’re mildly agitated when you don’t get enough sleep—who wouldn’t be? But according to the researchers at Iowa State University, there’s always been speculation about whether the actual sleep loss was to blame for exacerbated feelings of anger or if preexisting anger was responsible for disrupting the sleep cycle. So, they decided to recruit a group of participants in order to get to the bottom of sleep’s unique relationship with anger.

The scientists split the subjects into two groups: One group continued with their normal sleep schedule, and the second group was instructed to restrict their sleep by two to four hours a night for two nights. The first group turned out to sleep an average of seven hours a night while the second ended up getting around four and a half hours. And though the latter may seem extreme, Zlatan Krizan, Ph.D., an Iowa State psychology professor and one of the study authors, explained that this exemplifies the sleep loss we typically experience on any given day.

In order to measure anger and see if that sleep loss provoked it, the researchers had these participants then come into a lab after the sleep manipulation and rate a variety of products, once while listening to brown noise (which sounded like spraying water) and then while listening to harsher white nose (which sounded like a static signal). These uncomfortable audio-induced conditions were used in order to provoke anger, Dr. Krizan explained in the news release.

“In general, anger was substantially higher for those who were sleep-restricted,” he said. “We manipulated how annoying the noise was during the task, and as expected, people reported more anger when the noise was more unpleasant. When sleep was restricted, people reported even more anger, regardless of the noise.”

Clearly, proper sleep is of utmost importance in order to avoid unnecessary hostility.

So if you’re feeling angrier than usual, you might want to catch up on sleep. If you’re having trouble getting a high-quality snooze, don’t be afraid to get strategic about your sleep schedule—if not for its abundance of well-known health benefits, then at the very least to dispel some of your rage.

Rachel x

What Does Your Thyroid Do And How Do You Know If It’s Functioning Properly?

So what does the thyroid actually do? Well, everything! When the gland isn’t functioning our metabolism decreases and this causes problems with temperature control, mood, low energy, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and hair, poor fertility and memory, to name a just a few.

What does your thyroid do and how do you know if it’s functioning properly?

It’s a gland that sits at the bottom of the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. It’s a butterfly shape as it has two side lobes, connected by a bridge (isthmus) in the middle.

An individual problem
Conventional medicine diagnoses an underactive thyroid based on blood tests which show raised levels of TSH (the hormone secreted by the brain to stimulate the thyroid to work) and low levels of T4 (the hormone produced by the thyroid gland). T4 has to be converted to T3 to work. Blood levels of T3 are often not checked in the routine screen for hypothyroidism as it is assumed that T4 is being adequately converted to T3, although I think we should be checking T3 as not everyone converts T4 to T3 as well as they should.

Diagnosis
Even then, diagnosis is not straightforward, because the range of thyroid tests that conventional medicine considers to be normal is very wide. In America, the range of normal TSH references has been reduced from 0.5-5 to 0.3-3. This unfortunately is not the case in the UK where a TSH of up to five is still considered normal. Then add to this that some people function best when their numbers are at the upper end of the population range anyway! This means that if you are told your results are normal but you still feel you are suffering from hypothyroidism, request the exact values and take them to a practitioner who pays close attention to your symptoms and uses a multi-factorial approach to treat them.

So let’s dig deeper and look at the top signs indicating something is wrong with your thyroid:

1. Weak bones

If you have weak bones, have your thyroid checked. Abnormal thyroid function can decrease bone mineral density. Serum calcium will typically be in the “normal” reference range with hypothyroidism, but outside of the functional, optimal range.

2. Gut problems

Low thyroid function can reduce the movement of your intestines, which is essential for healthy digestion. The ability of your body to absorb nutrients is also altered when your thyroid isn’t working well. Healthy thyroid function dampens gut inflammation, and low thyroid function is linked with gastric ulcers and leaky gut syndrome.

3. Low sex drive

Many people think their low sex drive is due to aging, when in fact it may be a symptom of a bigger hormonal problem that’s anything but normal. Thyroid function affects the metabolism of estrogen and testosterone in the body. Hypothyroidism in men is linked with erectile dysfunction and low libido in both men and women.

4. Weight gain

When your thyroid hormones are low, your body will be less able to break down fat, making you resistant to weight loss. Years of fad diets and grueling hours in the gym won’t fix the underlying problem. Weight gain isn’t the cause of your problems, but a symptom of something not being addressed. You have to get healthy to lose weight, not the other way around. When you deal with the underlying hormonal problem and heal, weight loss is the natural byproduct.

5. Low energy

In addition to slowing your ability to burn fat, hypothyroidism will also decrease your energy, causing debilitating fatigue.

6. Blood sugar problems

When your body is in a low thyroid state, it decreases your body’s ability to absorb glucose or blood sugar. You need glucose to get properly in the cell to create ATP, your cellular energy source. Despite sluggish glucose metabolism, many people struggling with low thyroid hormones can feel hypoglycemic, like they have low blood sugar. Because the cells are not getting the glucose they need, you can feel like you are hypoglycemic even with normal looking blood sugar labs. This vicious cycle of hormonal dysfunction can lead to metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance.

7. High cholesterol and triglycerides

A sluggish thyroid hormone levels decreases the breakdown of cholesterol, leading to elevated total cholesterol and triglycerides. While high cholesterol alone is a poor predictor for heart attack and stroke risk, elevated triglycerides is an accurate marker for increased risk factor.

8. Adrenal fatigue

When you have hypothyroidism, it puts stress on your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Because of the lack of glucose and energy getting to the cells, the brain-adrenal axis pumps more cortisol in attempts to get more energy to the cells. This further complicates your hormonal health, leading to HPA axis dysfunction or adrenal fatigue.

9. Toxin overload

Poor thyroid health will lead to your liver and gallbladder not working very well. This can significantly decrease your body’s ability to rid itself of toxins, and may also cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. I commonly see impaired detoxification pathways in patients dealing with thyroid problems.

10. Estrogen imbalances

Estrogen comes in the form of three metabolites: Estrone (E1, estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Estrogen balance is essential for your health. When your thyroid isn’t working well it can unbalance your estrogen metabolite ratio.

11. Brain problems

Hypothyroidism is linked with poor neurotransmitter expression and an increased risk of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. This is due to the fact that a predominance of thyroid receptor sites are found in the brain. One 2014 study found that people with depression had higher rates of thyroid conversion impairments, or low T3 syndrome.

12. Hot flashes or being cold

When your thyroid hormone levels are low, it affects your body’s temperature control. This can cause you to feel cold all the time, or have night sweats and hot flashes.

13. Hair loss

Since the thyroid determines your metabolism and absorption of nutrients, when your thyroid hormones aren’t functioning optimally this can lead to hair loss. Making sure your levels are optimal is essential to regaining hair health.

What To Do Now

As you can see, thyroid health is essential for you to feel and be healthy. Many people instinctively know that they have a thyroid problem despite “normal” labs. If this is you, educate yourself on the thyroid problems that won’t show up on standard labs.

Rachel x

8 Natural Ways To Boost Your Energy

Next time fatigue starts to set in, avoid caffeine and try one of these simple tricks to give your body a little oomph!

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1 Small but mighty

Studies suggest that just a handful of raisins can fuel a workout, so when you’re feeling a little slow reach for these tiny bites of goodness.

2 Scentsational

Try aromatherapy to help you stay alert. Diffusing citrus essential oils such as orange, lemon or grapefruit is a great way to refresh and boost energy.

3 Food exchange

Swap white carbs for brown, these have much more fibre which means they are digested slower, preventing the highs and lows that cause our energy to crash.

4 Colour therapy

According to science, yellow is the colour most commonly linked with a healthy mood and alertness, closely followed by positive shades orange and lilac, so why not place a bold array of blooms on your desk? The gorgeous smell will help to boost your mind too!

5 Stay hydrated

Even a five percent drop in hydration can make you feel fatigued and fuzzy, when you hit the 4pm wall, swerve the coffee and simply reach for a glass of H20.

6 A head start

Give yourself an Indian head massage when you’re feeling lethargic. A vigorous scalp massage is a wonderful pick-me-up that can be done at any time to increase circulation to the head and boost energy.

7 Phone a friend

Research conducted by the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin found that hearing a supportive or familiar voice prompts the brain to release oxytocin, a stress-fighting mood-elevating hormone. So when you need a boost, give mum a ring.

8 Spice up your life

In ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been used to raise energy levels in people suffering from lethargy or depression. The scent and taste of turmeric, when used in foods and teas, can uplift your senses and invigorate your body.

 

Rachel x

Fatigue Fighting Foods

Do you often find yourself crashing out halfway through the day and struggling to keep your eyes open? A lot of the time those feelings of extreme tiredness and fatigue are down to diet so I’ve rounded up 8 foods you should try to boost your energy levels.

Oats

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Seriously filling and packed with protein and fibre, oats are great for people who experience blood sugar spikes and drops. Choosing plain versions is best as they have less sugar and you can then get creative and add fruit, honey and milk as you wish.

Pumpkin seeds

A handful of these can help give you an energy surge in the middle of the day. A source of protein, healthy fats, fibre and essential minerals, they can be eaten plain or sprinkled over salads and cereal.

Eggs

If these aren’t part of your morning routine, they should be. They’re an excellent way to enjoy sustained levels of energy without the insulin spikes or sugar crashes that eating a lot of sweet breakfasts like cereal and pastries can result in.

Spinach

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Popeye had the right idea getting his muscle power from my favourite green. Rich in iron, which improves mitochondrial efficiency, these greens make it easier for cells to convert the food you’re eating into usable energy.

Sweet potatoes

Keep your carbohydrate cravings at bay by bringing more of this under-rated vegetable into your diet. The slowly digested starch can help you feel full and the vitamin C will help fight colds and illnesses which naturally make you feel more tired.

Crimini mushrooms

These are a source of vitamin B6 which is a must for energy production. It protects the mitochondria from damage and in times of stress, supports adrenal glands and niacin which help to convert foods into usable energy.

 

Nuts

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Great for replenishing and boosting energy post workout, these are perfect for putting electrolytes back into your body that are lost during exercise. They’re filled with protein, fibre and magnesium which keeps your energy levels high and stable too.

Water

If you aren’t getting eight glasses a day, you really need to start! Dehydration is one of the main causes of tiredness, slowing down your metabolism and making your brain run slower.

Rachel x