Wired and Tired: Is Iodine The Cause?

By: Dr. Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dr. Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM



Wired and tired symptoms of insomniaSome of us get a feeling on a continual basis that even though we’ve had a very difficult and long day, we can’t fall asleep. There are many possible reasons for this “wired and tired” feeling. Some of them are more benign and some can become a problem if they are ignored for too long. There is nothing worse than finishing a long day at the office or an eventful evening with your children – only to be kept awake for inexplicable reasons.

The Wired and Tired Effect

Throughout this article, we will touch on a few of the possible issues that could be causing this wired and tired effect. The solution may be more simple than you think. Oftentimes, it’s about empowering yourself with the knowledge to understand your body better.

Iodine Deficiencies and Sleep

When we talk about being able to fall asleep in a reasonable time frame and what keeps us up at night, iodine deficiencies are the last thing that would normally come to mind. This, however, is one of the most basic deficiencies that can cause insomnia and that wired and tired feeling that so many of us get late at night. This is partly because iodine deficiency is directly linked to the thyroid gland – which helps to regulate sleep.

Among the things that present as a catalyst for poor sleeping patterns, one of the first is thyroid hormone production. If you are suffering from hypothyroidism or are producing insufficient thyroid hormone, a common result of iodine deficiency, your body will have a very difficult time getting to sleep. One of the main reasons for this is that your body’s liver has a difficult time producing glycogen – under conditions of low thyroid hormone production – which can cause your blood sugar levels to drop.

Glycogen is effectively stored energy in the liver that the body uses during times when there are not as many food calories available to be converted to useable energy. If your blood sugar is not regulated and stable at night, this can make it difficult to go to sleep and stay asleep as well.

On top of this, low blood sugar can make you feel wired and tired as well. What often takes place when there is a blood sugar drop in the body is an activation of the natural stress response.

During the stress response, the adrenal glands release cortisol (often referred to as adrenaline) into the bloodstream. This cortisol has the desired effect of raising blood sugar levels to normal but also comes with many other side effects.

Wide awake and being wired and tiredCortisol is a powerful hormone that can have several negative health effects when levels spike beyond what they should be on a continual basis. It is necessary for survival but extremely damaging to the body over time. An ever-present effect of cortisol is that it keeps you alert no matter how tired you may be.

This might be the exact thing that you’re experiencing but beware – there are many possible variables that could be causing you to feel wired and tired. Just because you are experiencing the same things that you’re reading about in this article does not mean that there is an identical causation.

If you are having a difficult time falling asleep and think that you may have an iodine deficiency, please contact your healthcare professional to discuss what the problem might be.

Iodine and Metabolism

It’s not just that normal levels of iodine are necessary for getting enough sleep; they are necessary to maintain proper metabolic health along with a variety of other things. Your metabolic health has a lot to do with how you rest. If you’re not getting adequate levels of rest because of low iodine levels and poor thyroid hormone production, it can cause you to have adverse health effects.

When you are experiencing low thyroid hormone levels, it is easy to gain weight and have a feeling of being constantly tired. The issues go far beyond just feeling wired and tired (which is uncomfortable enough).

The reason iodine is added to salt in the United States is because there are very serious implications, in many cases, involved with lack of iodine. This can cause the improper function of your thyroid gland.

There is always another side to the story. So, before you think that it is alright to consume as much iodine as possible to negate the chances of iodine deficiency, there is a flip side. It can be dangerous to consume too much iodine because the thyroid gland has limits and will stop working altogether when there is excessive iodine in the body. Don’t fret. There is a safe way to consume your iodine that will almost completely ensure that you’re not going over your intake, and that is because there are options obtainable through food.

Consuming Iodine in Foods

The simplest way to ensure that you are getting enough iodine naturally and without dietary supplementation is to eat the right foods that contain healthy levels of iodine. If you’re continually going through the struggle of feeling wired and tired every night, this is the first place to start because it’s the most basic. There are many people who stand by the trusted saying of “You are what you eat.” In this case, there is cause to pay heed to old wisdom.

Dieting to reduce wired and tired symptomsFish are a good place to start as they contain healthy levels of iodine that can boost your internal iodine concentrations back to what is normal. They are also a great starting point because they are low in unhealthy fats, high in protein, and rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

As with almost any good thing, there is a risk. Consuming large levels of mercury can accompany eating too much wild caught ocean fish. This is normally not a concern for most people but should be considered in the spectrum of a healthy diet.

Another great source of iodine is vegetables: kelp and seaweed in particular. There is iodine present in most vegetables and they are great for many other reasons as well.
A lesser known phenomenon is the trend of soil depletion that is taking place in certain farming operations. This is causing foods that used to have good levels of iodine to become less rich sources of the nutrient. Because of this, it is important to source your vegetables from a place where you understand the farming practices, when possible, to ensure you are getting exactly what you want.

Getting your iodine from food works perfectly for most people but, in certain cases, food might not be enough of a solution for someone who is suffering from an iodine deficiency.

Before you make changes to your diet, be sure to understand that there can always be adverse reactions and risks associated with making changes. It is never a bad idea to take some extra time to research what is best for you and your body. Food might not be the cause for your problems at all. It may be the mainstay of health complications; stress.

NEM Stress Response and Sleep

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response is the process through which our body reacts to outside stressors. The NEM begins at the base of the brain in the hypothalamus; from there it travels to the pituitary gland. From that point, there are signals sent to the adrenal glands; that is where most of the physical reactions begin to take place.

Before that point, the system is basically a cascade of neurotransmission signals that put together everything necessary for the body to react to stress. This neurotransmission process if often referred to as the hypo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

There is a direct correlation between the NEM Stress Response when compared to our bodies feeling wired and tired. The main cause, as touched on earlier in this article, is cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone and also a glucocorticoid. It is produced in the adrenal cortex of the adrenal gland, aiding in the metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. It also raises blood sugar levels, slows digestion, and increases your heart-rate as a reaction to stress.

Wired and tired stress symptomsThere is no mystery as to how excess levels of cortisol in the body can make you feel restless because that is their exact intention. Cortisol is meant to keep you alert and awake. This is great when you are in a dangerous situation. However, it can be terrible when the cause of your stress is trouble at work, and you just need some rest.

Lowering your stress levels in a healthy way can have a huge benefit to your sleeping patterns. This is in reference to stress-induced cortisol production. However, if your release of cortisol is due to an iodine deficiency and low blood sugar, then you are particularly susceptible to experience what is known as adrenal fatigue (AF).

AFS and Lack of Sleep

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is an affliction that affects many people throughout the world. It is a result of a myriad of causes including: depression, stress, lack of sleep, poor digestion, and many other possible triggers. What takes place when you experience AF is that your body can’t maintain proper hormone production to keep up with the demand that is placed on the adrenal glands.

Once the adrenal glands reach a state where they can no longer produce what is needed, the body enters adrenal exhaustion. This can cause the sufferer to lack the ability to properly recover and result in a continual negative cycle.

To relate all of these different but interconnected symptoms into the realm of iodine deficiency and feeling wired and tired, there are a few common threads and methods that should be considered. The first and easiest step if you’re experiencing AF in an ongoing fashion is to make some subtle changes to your diet.

A key affliction associated with AF is malabsorption and maldigestion. These two issues can be helped by incorporating healthier foods into your diet. Now, while you’re making positive changes to your diet to improve your nutrient uptake, it’s easy to substitute foods that you already know have good levels of iodine in them. This can put you on the path to recovery and help you obtain that much-needed rest that you’ve been longing for.

Once you have made the changes to your diet to boost iodine levels back to normal, your hormone production will help the adrenal glands produce what is necessary to get good sleep. There are situations where just making changes to diet will not be enough. Dealing with a poor diet is a good start but will not necessarily take care of all of your problems.

The root causes of stress need to be addressed in many cases and there is a possibility that you may be suffering from something that isn’t related to your diet. The cumulative effects of AF can become overpowering when left unchecked.

Wired and tired diagnosisOnce the body has entered into a state of adrenal exhaustion, it is absolutely imperative that you contact your healthcare provider to make them aware of what you’re going through.

Being wired and tired may be a problem that has far-reaching implications for your health. It is important that you stay aware of how you feel and what the changes that you make in your routine are doing to your body to avoid larger issues.

Conclusion for Those Who are Wired and Tired

Suffering from being constantly tired and worn out could very well be a sign of adrenal fatigue. There are many reasons to believe that this can be triggered by low levels of iodine in the body and we’ve gone through a few methods to test that assumption.

If you think that what we’ve described in this article is similar to what you’re going through, it would be prudent to take notice and do some research as to whether or not you have an iodine deficiency. It is an extremely common issue and most people don’t think about it twice.

Taking an active and meaningful role in maintaining your health is something that everyone should be doing and maybe it can help you avoid experiencing the fabled wired and tired feeling.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


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