One of the most debilitating symptoms when discussing Graves’ Disease is the inability for the diagnosed to obtain proper sleep, both in duration, quality and quantity. The reason behind this symptom particularly is that the overall body metabolism is already increased dramatically due to the excess of thyroid hormone in the body. This leads to a subjective feeling of increased energy and physical drive. The person suffering from Graves’ disease often feels that he can accomplish many things, regularly starts many projects at once and works until completely exhausted. In normal conditions this should lead to deep and rejuvenating sleep and the individual may expect to wake up refreshed and rested. That’s not the case with people suffering from Graves’ Disease because they can’t just “turn off” the switch so easily, have problems initiating sleep, maintaining sleep or going through all 5 stages of the sleeping cycle.
Some of the leading complaints are nonrestorative sleep, waking up a few times at night and problems falling back to sleep. Some people regularly sleep less that 2-3 hours per night and wake up even more tired. The sleep disturbance and the accompanying daytime exhaustion cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of life. As a result of this repeated sleep disturbance patterns people may feel irritable, fatigue and exhausted during daytime, often unable to focus on work, driving or social activities. They have diminished motivation to accomplish different tasks, reduced performance at work or school, may experience daytime sleepiness. The diagnosed individuals may also have problems with daytime attention, concentration, or memory. Graves’ disease patients find themselves in a vicious circle- unable to get enough sleep, exhausted and overwhelmed. However, there are a few methods and sleeping aids that can break that circle.
First, patients need to continue with the treatment medication, prescribed by their physicians regarding Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism. Second, it is recommended to sustain a stable sleep-wake cycle, meaning going to bed at one and the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning, regardless if it is a weekend or not. It is advisable to avoid alcohol before going to bed, because alcohol is often associated with impaired sleeping schedule. Properly ventilated rooms and premises are also important for providing deep and restorative sleep. Watching television and working on computers one hour before bed may also interfere with the sleep quality and quantity.