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All you need to know about carbohydrates

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The carbohydrates are biomolecules, or saccharides. The four primary biomolecular classes are carbohydrates, proteins, nucleotides, and lipids. The most plentiful of the four are the carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are also known as “carbs,” and have several functions in living organisms, including energy transport. These also depict structural components of plants and insects.

The derivatives of carbohydrates are involved in reproduction, the immune system, disease growth and blood clotting.

Fast facts on carbohydrates

  • “Saccharide” is another word for “carbohydrate.”
  • Foods high in carbohydrates include bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, rice, and cereals.
  • One gram of carbohydrate contains approximately 4 kilocalories
  • High glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates quickly enter the bloodstream as glucose
  • Switching to a low-GI diet improves the chance of a healthy weight and lifestyle

What are carbohydrates?

 whole-grain
Carbohydrate sources include whole-grain, berries, and vegetables.

Carbohydrates are carbohydrates or starches and are also known as saccharides or carbs. They are a major source of food for most species, and a key form of energy.

They are composed of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

Two simple compounds constitute carbohydrates:

  • aldehydes: double-bonded atoms of carbon and oxygen plus an atom of hydrogen.
  • Ketones: These are atoms of double bonded carbon and oxygen, plus two extra atoms of hydrogen.

Carbs may be combined to form polymers, or chains.

Those polymers can act as:

  • long-term food storage molecules
  • protective membranes for organisms and cells
  • the main structural support for plants

Most organic matter on earth is made up of carbohydrates. They are involved in many aspects of life.

Types

There are various carbohydrate forms. Monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides are included.

Monosaccharides

This is the tiniest sugar unit possible. Examples include galactose, fructose, or glucose. Glucose is an essential energy source for a cell. “Blood sugar” means “blood glucose.”

These include: in human nutrition;

  • galactose, most readily available in milk and dairy products
  • fructose, mostly in vegetables and fruit

Disaccharides

For example, lactose, maltose, and sucrose are two monosaccharide molecules bound together.

Lactose is formed by joining one glucose molecule to a galactose molecule. Lactose is commonly found in dairy products.

A sucrose molecule is produced by the bonding of one glucose molecule with a fructose molecule.

Sucrose occurs in table sugar. It is often the product of photosynthesis, as chlorophyll-absorbed sunlight interacts in plants with other compounds.

Polysaccharides

For plants and animals various polysaccharides serve as food stores. These also play a structural role in the plant cell wall, as well as the strong outer insect skeleton.

Polysaccharides are a series of monosaccharides, or more.

The chain may be:

  • branched, so that the molecule looks like a tree with branches and twigs
  • unbranched, where the molecule is a straight line

The molecular polysaccharide chains may consist of hundreds or thousands of monosaccharides.

Glycogen is a polysaccharide, stored in the liver and muscles by humans and animals.

Starches are amylose and amylopectin composed of glucose polymers. Rich sources include potatoes, wheat, and rice. The starches are not soluble in water. People and animals use amylase enzymes to digest these.

Cellulose is one of the plants ‘ principal structural constituents. Cellulose is mostly made of wood, paper, and cotton.

Simple and complex carbs

You may have learned of carbohydrates which are simple and complex.

Monosaccharides and disaccharides are simple carbohydrates, and these are complex polysaccharides.

Simple carbohydrates: We make of just one or two molecules. They provide a strong energy source but the user will soon feel hungry again. Sources include white bread, sugar, and confectionery.

Complex carbohydrates: are composed of long sugar molecular chains. Wholegrains and foods are complex carbs that still have their fibre in them. They tend to fill you up for longer, and are considered healthier because we contain more vitamins, minerals and fibre. For example, fruits, vegetables, pulses and whole-meal pasta.

Nutrition

Carbohydrate-rich foods include bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, bran, rice, and cereals. Many foods that are rich in carbohydrates are high in starch content. For most species, including humans, carbohydrates are the most frequent source of energy.

If we had to, we could get all of our calories from the fats and proteins. One gram of carbohydrate contains around 4 kilocalories (kcal), equivalent to that of protein. There is about 9 kcal in one gram of fat.

Other essential functions, however, are carbohydrates:

  • the brain needs carbohydrates, specifically glucose, because neurons cannot burn fat
  • dietary fiber is made of polysaccharides that our bodies do not digest

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020 recommend that 45 to 65 percent of carbohydrate energy needs be obtained, and a maximum of 10 percent should come from simple carbohydrates, that is, glucose and simple sugars.

High-carb or low-carb diet?

Some “breakthroughs” appear every couple of decades and people are advised to “evitate all fats,” or “evitate carbs.”

Carbohydrates have been, and will continue to be, an essential part of any human dietary requirement.

Carbs and obesity

Some suggest that a high intake of carbohydrates is related to the global rise in obesity. To this question, however, a number of factors contribute:

A lady rejecting sugar
Simple carbohydrates like sugar raise the risk of obesity.

These include:

  • a reduction in physical activity
  • a higher consumption of junk food
  • a higher consumption of food additives, such as coloring, taste enhancers, and artificial emulsifiers
  • fewer hours sleep each night
  • rise in living standards

Stress can be a factor, as well. One study found that the molecule neuropeptide Y (NPY) released by the body when stressed may “unlock” Y2 receptors in the fat cells of the body, stimulating the cells to grow in size and number.

As living standards and eating preferences shift, rapidly developing countries such as China, India, Brazil and Mexico are seeing a rise in obesity.

Their diets were more carb-heavy than they are now, when those populations were leaner. They also ate more fresh foods and less junk food, became more active physically, and slept longer at night.

What about diet foods?

Most advocates of high or low carb diets endorse marketed and refined items such as chocolate bars, powders, as weight-loss aids. Often these include colours, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives, similar to junk foods.

When users of these products stay physically inactive, they may see some slight weight loss, but the weight will go back on when they leave the diet.

How can carbohydrates lead to diabetes?

The digestive system breaks down some of them into glucose when a person consumes carbohydrates. Such glucose reaches the blood and increases levels of blood sugar, or glucose. Beta-cells in the pancreas release insulin when blood glucose levels rise.

Insulin is a compound that removes blood sugar from our cells for energy or storage. As blood sugar is absorbed in the cells, blood sugar levels begin to drop.

When blood sugar levels drop below a certain point, the glucagon releases alpha cells in the pancreas. Glucagon is a hormone that makes glycogen, a sugar stored in the liver, release into the liver.

In short, insulin and glucagon in cells, especially the brain cells, help maintain regular levels of blood glucose. Insulin brings down high levels of blood glucose, while glucagon brings up levels when they’re too low.

When blood glucose levels rise too rapidly, too often, the cells will finally become dysfunctional and fail to respond adequately to instructions from insulin. Over time, the cells need to react to more insulin. This is what we call insulin resistance.

The beta cells in the pancreas will wear out after long years of producing high levels of insulin. Declines in insulin production. It may eventually stop altogether.

Effects of insulin resistance

Insulin resistance can lead to a wide range of health problems, including:

  • hypertension, or high blood pressure
  • high blood fat levels, or triglycerides
  • low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol
  • weight gain
  • a range of chronic diseases

This is known as metabolic syndrome, and it is linked to type 2 diabetes.

Reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome

Long-term blood sugar control reduces the chances of developing metabolic syndrome.

Ways of doing this include:

  • consuming natural carbohydrates
  • good sleeping habits
  • regular exercise

For fruit and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and so on, the carbohydrates appear to reach the bloodstream slowly compared to the carbohydrates for processed food.

The carbohydrates in junk and processed foods and drinks can cause a person to feel hungry faster again, as they cause a rapid spike in the production of glucose and insulin. That is less likely to be done by natural foods containing carbohydrates.

The so-called Mediterranean diet is high in natural carbohydrates, with a small quantity of animal or fish protein.

Compared to the standard American diet this has a lower impact on insulin demands and associated health problems.

For good health carbohydrates are necessary. Those that come from raw, unprocessed foods like berries, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and some cereals also contain essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and main phytonutrients.

The glycemic index

Carbohydrates that rapidly increase blood sugar are said to be high on the glycemic index (GI), while those that have a more gentle effect on blood sugar levels have lower GI ranking.

Carbohydrates enter the bloodstream at varying rates as glucose.

  • High-GI carbs enter the bloodstream quickly as glucose
  • Low-GI carbs enter slowly, because they take longer to digest and break down

In the long term, low-GI diets are ideal for preserving health and body weight along with exercise and daily sleep.

Low GI carbohydrates are linked to:

  • less weight gain
  • better control of diabetes and blood sugar
  • healthier blood cholesterol levels
  • lower risk of heart disease
  • better appetite control
  • enhance physical endurance

Low GI diet

One aspect that improves a food’s GI score is the method of milling and grinding, which often leaves no more than starchy endosperm, or the seed or grain inner portion. Mostly, this is starch.

It also removes other nutrients including minerals, vitamins, and dietary fibers.

Eat more unrefined foods, such as: To adopt a low GI diet,

  • oats, barley, or bran for breakfast, the less refined, the better
  • wholegrain bread
  • brown rice
  • plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • fresh, whole fruit instead of juice
  • whole grain pasta
  • salads and raw vegetables

Junk foods, processed foods, and foods with too many additives should be avoided.

Recommendations

For health, we need carbohydrates but they have to be the right type of carbohydrates.

Following a well-balanced diet that includes unprocessed carbohydrates, and getting enough sleep and physical activity is more likely to result in good health and proper body weight than focusing on or eliminating a particular nutrient.

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Endocrinology

Hypothyroidism, sweating, and night sweats: What to know

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Hypothyroidism is commonly associated with decreased sweating and feeling cold, according to doctors. Sweating is a symptom of hypothyroidism in some people. This could be due to the fact that thyroid hormones assist control body temperature, and a lack of them causes instability.

There are, however, other, more plausible reasons for similar symptoms.

For example, if someone takes more levothyroxine than they require, a hypothyroidism drug called levothyroxine might cause sweating as a side effect. Other variables, such as menopause, can cause sweating and may occur in conjunction with hypothyroidism.

In this article, the connection between hypothyroidism, sweating, and nite sweats is examined. It also looks into how people might live more comfortably when they are sweating profusely.

When to consult a physician

If a person has night sweats on a frequent basis, they should consult a doctor. If they already have hypothyroidism, the doctor may suggest changing their medication dosage or checking for other possible causes.

If someone does not have a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, consulting a doctor will allow them to run tests to confirm or rule out the condition.

Hypothyroidism and sweating

sweating

Although doctors connect hypothyroidism with feeling chilly and hyperthyroidism with feeling hot, low thyroid hormone levels may cause overall difficulties controlling body temperature. This could imply that some hypothyroid people suffer perspiration. There is, however, insufficient scientific evidence to back this claim.

Another possibility is that the individual is taking too much levothyroxine. Levothyroxine substitutes thyroid hormones that the body can not produce enough of. Taking more of this medication than is necessary may result in:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • chest pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • sweating
  • headaches
  • a racing heartbeat
  • anxiety or agitation

Hypothyroidism and night sweats

Night sweats can be caused by hypothyroidism, but clinicians rarely link the two. There could be other causes for this condition. For example, levothyroxine, a hypothyroidism drug, may cause a person to feel excessively hot in general, including at night.

Thyroid hormone levels influence other hormone levels in the body and vice versa. This is especially important for women, who are five to eight times more likely than men to have hypothyroidism.

In their mid-to-late 40s, most women experience the first signs of menopause. At this point, estrogen and progesterone levels begin to fall. This can cause in symptoms, the most prevalent of which are hot flashes and nocturnal sweats. Doctors believe that estrogen levels may have an effect on thyroid function as well.

Menopause and hypothyroidism have several symptoms, and each can aggravate the other. This could imply that some hypothyroid people suffer both thyroid and menopausal symptoms at the same time.

Estrogen influences how much triiodothyronine and thyroxine the thyroid produces, and the thyroid may struggle to meet the body’s needs during menopause. According to a 2011 study, estrogen has a direct influence on human thyroid cells.

An earlier 2007 study looked at females with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism and severe menopausal symptoms. The researchers discovered that treating thyroid dysfunction reduced patients menopausal symptoms, such as night sweats.

Other hypothyroidism symptoms

The symptoms of hypothyroidism might vary from person to person. However, some common symptoms are as follows:

  • forgetfulness
  • constipation
  • tiredness
  • weight gain
  • dry skin
  • an inability to tolerate cold
  • heavy or irregular periods
  • fertility problems
  • dry, thinning hair
  • voice changes
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • a slowed heart rate
  • depression

Treatment

People who have frequent sweating and nocturnal sweats should consult a doctor about their symptoms. They may need to be tested for thyroid disease. Alternatively, if they already have a diagnosis, they may need to alter their prescription dosage.

To alleviate the discomfort caused by sweating, it may be beneficial to:

  • Sleep in a cool bedroom: Turning down the thermostat and sleeping with less or lighter bedding might help minimize heat around the body during sleeping. Make an effort to use bedding composed of breathable, natural fibers such as cotton.
  • Choose breathable clothing: Wherever feasible, use lightweight, flowy clothing made of natural fibers. This can assist in keeping the body cool and wicking away perspiration. Wearing light layers allows someone to remove or reapply garments as their body temperature changes.
  • Reduce sweat triggers: Spicy meals, cigarettes, and alcohol can aggravate night sweats, therefore avoiding these can help to alleviate this condition.
  • Use a cooling pillow or ice pack: Some pillows feature a gel filling that keeps you cool while you sleep. Alternatively, a cool pack can be placed under the pillow. When a person has night sweats, flipping the pillow to the cool side can help them chill down.

Other causes

If levothyroxine and lifestyle adjustments do not alleviate sweating, it is possible that something else is causing this symptom. The following are some further explanations.

Menopause

Perimenopause, or the earliest stage of menopause, is characterized by hot flashes and nocturnal sweats. These are known as vasomotor symptoms by doctors.

According to research, more than 80% of females experience hot flashes throughout menopause. These often cause in a sudden feeling of heat, perspiration, flushing, anxiousness, and chills. This can persist 1–5 minutes before dissipating.

Medications

Many drugs might cause night sweats. Night sweats, for example, are reported by up to 22% of people who take antidepressants.

Among the other drugs that may have this effect are:

  • aspirin
  • acetaminophen
  • steroids
  • antipsychotics
  • hormone therapy drugs
  • medications that decrease blood sugar

A doctor may propose alternatives if a person is taking a medicine that can cause perspiration. Do not change the dosage or discontinue a medicine without first consulting a medical expert.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause havoc on the body’s natural capacity to regulate its internal temperature. This frequently leads to less sweating than is desirable, putting people at higher risk of heat-related diseases including heat stroke.

People who have low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, may also have excessive sweating. A condition known as gustatory sweating is also a known consequence of diabetes. This causes excessive sweating during or immediately following meals.

Other causes

Other causes for sweating or night sweats include:

  • hyperthyroidism
  • pregnancy
  • anxiety
  • hyperhidrosis
  • infections
  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • autoimmune conditions
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions
  • cancer, such as pheochromocytoma, leukemia, and lymphoma

Conclusion

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces insufficient thyroid hormone. Although sweating is more frequently associated with hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, it is possible that low levels of thyroid hormone may cause sweating in some hypothyroid patients.

There are, however, numerous other causes that can cause perspiration. Menopause, medication side effects, diabetes, and other conditions could all be factors. As a cause, anyone who sweats during the day or night for no apparent reason should consult a doctor.

Sources:

  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17701801/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459071/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459227/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6619426/
  • https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5898980/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-to-know-about-hypothyroidism-sweating-and-night-sweats
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4861190/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8502225/
  • https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-basics
  • https://www.sweathelp.org/where-do-you-sweat/other-sweating/night-sweats.html
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499850/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3113168/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK500006/
  • https://www.btf-thyroid.org/thyroid-and-menopause

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Insomnia and hypothyroidism: Is there a link?

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Rather than an underactive thyroid, doctors usually connect difficulties sleeping with an overactive thyroid. However, there is little evidence that hypothyroidism may be linked to sleep issues.

There is little research on the link between hypothyroidism and insomnia, and what little research there is has inconsistent outcomes.

According to one study, hypothyroidism is linked to insomnia but does not cause it directly. There was no link between the two in an older, smaller study.

This article examines whether hypothyroidism is associated to insomnia, as well as the reasons for such a link. It also looks into how people can manage their symptoms.

Hypothyroidism and insomnia

insomnia

Hypothyroidism and insomnia may be linked. A 2019 study looked at hypothyroidism and sleep quality.

For a full-blown diagnosis of hypothyroidism, a condition must have subclinical hypothyroidism.

The scientists discovered several associations between sleep of 2,224 people with subclinical hypothyroidism and 12,622 people with normal thyroid hormone levels. Subclinical hypothyroidism was associated with:

  • lower satisfaction with sleep quality
  • longer sleep latency, which is the amount of time it takes to go to sleep
  • shorter sleep duration

The researchers also discovered that people with both subclinical hypothyroidism and poor sleep quality were more likely to be female, younger, and underweight.

A 2014 study looked into the possibility of a link between subclinical hypothyroidism and poor sleep quality, however the sample size was smaller and less diversified. There were 682 men in the study, 38 of whom had hypothyroidism.

There was no link between thyroid hormone levels and poor sleep quality, according to the findings. However, due to the study’s limitations, it may not be accurate.

Is there a link?

Thyroid-stimulating hormone levels are high in subclinical hypothyroidism (TSH). The hypothalamus, a component of the brain, causes the pituitary gland to release more TSH when thyroid levels in the body are low.

TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more of the hormone known as free thyroxine when it reaches the gland (T4).

Subclinical hypothyroidism is defined by normal T4 levels in the blood and increased TSH levels, which can indicate that hypothyroidism symptoms are nonexistent or moderate.

Researchers don’t entirely understand how elevated TSH levels can lead to poor sleep, but they do have an idea.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis connects the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and thyroid gland. The HPT axis gets increasingly active as a person falls asleep.

This stimulates the thyroid gland by increasing the secretion of TSH. Thyroid stimulation may cause sleep disturbances under specific physiological situations.

Other ways hypothyroidism can affect sleep

While it is unknown if hypothyroidism can cause insomnia directly, it is plausible that it can affect sleep indirectly. Hypothyroidism can cause the following symptoms:

Discomfort

Hypothyroidism’s physical effects can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. For example, if a person has joint or muscular pain, is sensitive to the cold, or is anxious, sleeping may be difficult.

According to an older 2011 study, insomnia is more common in people who have a higher number of medical issues. With this in mind, the vast range of symptoms caused by hypothyroidism might have a severe impact on sleep quality.

Side effects of medications

Hypothyroidism is treated with thyroxine, a hormone that increases low thyroid hormone levels and relieves hypothyroidism symptoms. It is an effective medication for many people when given at the proper dose.

If someone takes more than they require, they may encounter side effects such as:

  • feeling hot
  • shakiness
  • racing heartbeat
  • inability to sleep
  • anxiety or nervousness
  • increased appetite

Other health conditions

Hypothyroidism is linked to other sleep-disrupting conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which breathing stops and causes periodically during the night.

Daytime tiredness, frequent waking, and difficulty sleeping can all be symptoms of OSA. If someone has OSA, others sleeping in the same room may hear excessive snoring, choking, or gasping noises.

Restless legs syndrome, which causes unpleasant crawling or tingling feelings in the legs while someone is sleeping, is linked to hypothyroidism.

What helps?

What relieves insomnia depends on the source of the problem. If you have hypothyroidism, your doctor may recommend:

  • lowering the dose of someone’s thyroxine to a more comfortable level if they are having side effects
  • beginning thyroxine treatment to relieve physical discomfort
  • testing for other conditions that may be causing insomnia

It is important not to change the dose of thyroxine without first consulting with a doctor.

If taking or altering thyroid medication does not help, a doctor may investigate other possible causes. They may inquire as to when their insomnia began, how frequently it occurs, and any changes that occurred in their life around that time.

If a doctor detects a sleep issue, such as OSA, he or she may refer the patient for a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Alternatively, if the insomnia is caused by another medical or mental health condition, the individual may begin treatment for it as well.

Is there anything else that can increase thyroid hormone levels?

Although there is no cure for hypothyroidism, it may nearly always be managed with medicine, which restores thyroid hormone levels to normal.

There is evidence that there are additional strategies for people to support their thyroid hormone levels, such as:

Exercise

An older study from 2015 looked at the effect of a regular physical activity program on 20 people who were being treated for hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone levels were measured in blood before and after three months of daily one-hour exercise sessions, according to the authors.

They determined that exercise can improve thyroid function after comparing the results to people who did not engage in any physical activity at all.

Diet

Iodine is a nutrient used by the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. The majority of people in the United States obtain enough iodine.

Iodine deficiency, on the other hand, can cause hypothyroidism in rare situations. People who are deficient in iodine can supplement their diet with foods like seaweed or take pills.

Taking iodine pills will not help if iodine insufficiency is not the cause.

Furthermore, people with autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto’s disease, may discover that iodine in food or supplements aggravates their condition. A doctor or dietician can advise on the best course of action for each individual.

A diet that reduces inflammation is something that practically everyone can benefit from. Inflammation has been associated to a number of chronic illnesses, including autoimmune thyroiditis, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Thyroiditis can result in hypothyroidism.

An anti-inflammatory diet may help people with autoimmune hypothyroidism. This entails eating:

  • foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon
  • plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • monounsaturated or “healthy” fats, such as olive oil, rather than saturated fat
  • at least 30 grams of fiber per day

Can people with hypothyroidism take melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that the body makes naturally as part of the sleep-wake cycle. Its production increases in the evening darkness, promoting healthy sleep, and decreases when a person is exposed to light, assisting them in waking up.

As a result, the sleep-wake cycle is synchronized with the rhythms of night and day.

Some people use extra melatonin to help them sleep. Short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe, according to the National Institutes of Health, but there is limited evidence on long-term consequences.

A small study published in 2001 examined the effect of melatonin on females with hypothyroidism, 36 of whom were perimenopausal and 18 of whom were postmenopausal. The individuals were divided into two groups at random by the researchers. At bedtime, one group received a placebo, while the other received melatonin.

After 3–6 months, the scientists discovered that the melatonin group had significantly greater levels of thyroid hormones than the placebo group.

They hypothesized that low levels of melatonin due to aging were linked to low levels of thyroid hormones, which explains why taking a melatonin pill increased TSH levels as well.

To confirm that melatonin is safe and effective for people with hypothyroidism, large-scale investigations are required. People who want to use a melatonin supplement should see a doctor about appropriate amounts and keep in mind that the quality of supplements might vary greatly.

Other causes of insomnia

Insomnia can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:

  • stress
  • shift work
  • hormone changes, such as during pregnancy or menopause
  • lifestyle factors, such as:
    • using electronic devices close to bedtime
    • exercising too little
    • using caffeine, nicotine, illegal drugs, or alcohol
    • taking long naps in the day
    • having an irregular sleep schedule
  • environmental factors, such as:
    • noise or light
    • frequent travel to different time zones
    • a temperature that is too hot or cool in the bedroom

People who are having trouble sleeping may benefit from minimizing any of the probable risk factors for insomnia that they have control over. It can, for example, aid in:

  • quit smoking
  • get regular exercise, while avoiding exercise in the evening before sleep
  • manage stress or practice relaxation techniques
  • create a cool, dark, and comfortable sleep environment
  • wake up and go to bed at the same time every day
  • reduce or stop caffeine and alcohol consumption

Conclusion

In conclusion, hypothyroidism may be connected to insomnia, however evidence to date has been inconsistent.

People with hypothyroidism, on the other hand, frequently have difficulty tolerating low temperatures at night, as well as joint and muscular pain that can interfere with sleep. If the dose is too high, the side effects of thyroxine might also cause trouble sleeping.

Even if thyroid hormone shortage isn’t directly causing insomnia, the vast variety of symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction can easily exacerbate sleeping problems and limit a person’s capacity to attain quality, deep sleep.

Consult a doctor if insomnia becomes a persistent issue. Treating the underlying issue and implementing sleep-promoting lifestyle modifications may be beneficial.

Sources:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4363141/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11226744/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770945/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3119827/
  • https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-disease-cam/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hypothyroidism-and-insomnia
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8423342/
  • https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/tools/hypothyroidism.asp
  • https://www.thyroid.org/hypothyroidism/
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/insomnia
  • https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6927586/

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What exactly is the difference between narcolepsy and sleep apnea?

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Narcolepsy and sleep apnea are two diseases that can cause you weary during the day. Their symptoms, causes, and therapies, on the other hand, are vastly different.

Narcolepsy is an uncommon condition that causes episodes of extreme tiredness that can occur at any time. Cataplexy is a condition in which some people experience an abrupt loss of muscular tone.

Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is a frequent condition in which a person’s breathing stops and causes disturbances while sleeping. It can cause fatigue as a result of poor sleep quality.

The differences between narcolepsy and sleep apnea, as well as the link between the two sleep disorders and how doctors diagnose them, are discussed in this article.

What is narcolepsy?

narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that impairs the brain’s capacity to regulate its sleep-wake cycle. This can cause people to fall asleep spontaneously and unexpectedly during the day, even when performing tasks that need focus, such as driving.

Narcolepsy patients frequently have disrupted sleep owing to intense dreams, hallucinations, or sleep paralysis.

Narcolepsy is classified into two types: type 1 and type 2. Cataplexy, or a decrease of muscular tone, is a symptom of type 1. Cataplexy causes a section of or the entire body to become limp. Type 2 occurs in the absence of cataplexy.

Narcolepsy symptoms often appear in childhood or early adulthood, but they can appear at any age. Many studies believe that the condition is frequently misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a frequent condition in which a person’s breathing temporarily stop or becomes very shallow during sleep. These are known as “breathing pauses” by doctors, and they can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.

People who suffer from sleep apnea experience frequent breathing pauses, which can occur 30 times or more per hour. Sleep apnea can be classified into numerous categories, including:

  • OSA (obstructive sleep apnea): This is the most frequent type of sleep apnea, and it is caused by an obstruction in the upper airways.
  • Central sleep apnea: This condition happens when the brain fails to provide the necessary impulses for breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Symptom differences

The symptoms of sleep apnea and narcolepsy are compared in the table below:

Sleep apneaNarcolepsy
excessive daytime sleepinessexcessive daytime sleepiness that may occur suddenly
gasping or choking noises during sleepcataplexy, which strong emotions such as fear, laughter, stress, anger, or excitement often trigger
loud snoringvivid dreams, sleep paralysis, or hallucinations
dry mouth when wakingacting out dreams
frequent waking during sleepdifficulty sleeping at night
difficulty focusing or rememberingautomatic behaviors, which occur when a person briefly falls asleep but carries on with their activity
headaches

Sleep apnea is also linked to bedwetting, exacerbated asthma, and academic performance difficulties in children.

Can sleep apnea progress to narcolepsy?

According to research, OSA is widespread in people who have narcolepsy. An earlier 2010 study discovered that 33 people with narcolepsy — nearly 25 percent — also had sleep apnea symptoms.

Sleep apnea, on the other hand, does not cause narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a neurological condition in which the brain is unable to control its sleep-wake cycle.

Sleep apnea is common in people with narcolepsy, although it may be related to the other sleep abnormalities that people with narcolepsy frequently encounter, according to doctors.

Hypocretin, a hormone, is deficient in people with type 1 narcolepsy. Hypocretin awakens people and regulates rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Excessive tiredness during waking hours and irregular sleep cycles cause in symptoms such as vivid nightmares when this hormone is deficient.

Doctors aren’t clear why certain people have low hypocretin levels, although various variables could be at play:

  • Autoimmune disease: Autoimmune disorders, in which the immune system assaults healthy cells, are common in people with type 1 narcolepsy. The immune system may also assault the cells that produce hypocretin, resulting in a deficit, according to researchers.
  • History of the family: Most cases of narcolepsy do not have a familial history of the condition. However, approximately 10% of people indicate they have a family relative who likewise suffers with narcolepsy symptoms. This shows that in some circumstances, there may be a hereditary component.
  • Injuries or diseases to the brain: In rare cases, narcolepsy develops as a result of an injury to a brain area that regulates sleep or as a result of another condition that affects the brain, such as a tumor.

Hypocretin levels in people with type 2 narcolepsy are frequently normal. Researchers are still trying to figure out what causes this condition.

Similar conditions

There are numerous reasons why a person may feel excessively fatigued during the day. Other things that may contribute to this symptom are as follows:

  • insufficient sleep
  • certain medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and beta-blockers
  • other sleep disorders, such as circadian rhythm disorder
  • hypothyroidism
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • traumatic brain injuries

Some more serious illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy, can also cause extreme sleepiness. However, these are generally accompanied by additional symptoms.

Diagnosis

A doctor can determine the cause of extreme tiredness, frequent awakening during the night, and other symptoms that may indicate sleep apnea or narcolepsy. They will start the diagnostic procedure by:

  • asking the person to keep a sleep journal to record their symptoms
  • taking a medical history
  • performing a physical examination

Sleep studies, on the other hand, are the major tool used by doctors to identify sleep apnea. A person will spend the night at a health center, where doctors will monitor them and count the number of breathing pauses in an hour. Doctors will also look to see if the blood oxygen levels change.

If a doctor suspects narcolepsy, he or she may order a polysomnography (PSG) and a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT).

A PSG is a form of sleep study that monitors breathing, eye movements, brain activity, and muscle movements while the patient is sleeping. It can detect narcolepsy and other sleep-related problems, such as sleep apnea.

An MSLT is usually performed the morning after a PSG. The individual will take a nap every two hours until they have had five naps in total. This test allows doctors to detect how quickly a person falls asleep and whether they enter REM sleep.

A lumbar puncture is sometimes performed to assess the hypocretin levels in a person’s cerebrospinal fluid.

Treatment

To treat these sleeping disorders, doctors employ a variety of treatments.

Treatment for sleep apnea

The following are some of the possible therapies for OSA:

  • surgery, if OSA is due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • mouthpieces
  • breathing devices
  • lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or maintaining a moderate weight

A continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine is the most commonly recommended breathing equipment by doctors. To keep the airway from collapsing, these devices blast pressurized air into the individual’s neck.

Sleep apnea mouthpieces move the lower jaw forward sufficiently to keep the airway open. If OSA treatment is ineffective, it could be a symptom that the person has another kind of sleep apnea, another sleep disorder, or a condition such as narcolepsy.

Treatment for Narcolepsy

There is no cure for narcolepsy, however medication can help most people regulate their extreme sleepiness and cataplexy. A doctor may order:

  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • modafinil (Provigil)
  • amphetamine-like stimulants
  • noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors

To help control their symptoms, an individual may need to make lifestyle changes like as avoiding coffee before bed, taking short naps, exercising everyday, and maintaining a regular sleep pattern.

Conclusion

Both sleep apnea and narcolepsy cause daytime tiredness. Sleep apnea, on the other hand, causes weariness as a result of sleep disturbances caused by frequent pauses in breathing. People with the condition frequently snore, produce gasping or choking noises while sleeping, or wake up with a dry mouth.

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that causes excessive sleepiness, causing people to fall asleep unexpectedly throughout normal tasks. Insomnia, vivid dreams, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations are also possible. It is conceivable to have both sleep apnea and narcolepsy, but sleep apnea is significantly more prevalent on its own.

People who are concerned about their symptoms should seek medical attention, especially if their tiredness is interfering with their mental health or activities that could be risky, such as driving.

Sources:

  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1389945720301210?via%3Dihub
  • https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/narcolepsy/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/narcolepsy-vs-sleep-apnea
  • https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Narcolepsy-Fact-Sheet
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6815780/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19699146/
  • https://medlineplus.gov/sleepapnea.html
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-apnea

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