When you don't get enough sleep, feeling tired isn't the only consequence. Lack of sleep can affect the way your whole body functions, and there are even a number of ways sleep deprivation can impact your hormones. You might not realize it, but not getting enough sleep can affect everything from your stress hormones, to how hungry you feel, and even your insulin levels. This means sleep is extra important for more than just your energy levels, and it can make a difference in balancing out your hormones.
"Sleep deprivation causes imbalances in many hormones, and in turn, the imbalance of these hormones causes more sleep deprivation," functional medicine practitioner Veronica Anderson, MD, IFMCP, tells Bustle. "The result is a vicious cycle. Sleep deprivation in and of itself has an effect on the master hormone system, termed the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, as well as the nervous system."
Everyone has their own individualized circadian rhythm or natural sleep/wake cycles, which help to regulate numerous important biological activities such as waking up, sleeping, the release of certain hormones (including melatonin and cortisol), blood pressure, body temperature, blood sugar levels, digestive secretions, and so on, according to family physician and hormone health expert Don Colbert, M.D. Getting proper sleep can help ensure that everything functions properly, especially your hormones.
Here are six ways sleep deprivation can affect your hormones, according to experts.