Hormones aren’t always the sexiest topic (Okay, pretty much never the sexiest topic.) but they are pretty darn important in your day-to-day life and you might be surprised what they do in your body.
Like, let’s say, preventing you from wetting the bed when you sleep.
We know. Not sexy. But hey, we warned you.
What is anti-diuretic hormone? Anti-diuretic hormone, or ADH, is one of the many heroes of your hormones. It even has it’s own special nerve cells that help secrete it, found in your hypothalamus. ADH primarily interacts with your kidneys to conserve fluid in your body and help maintain a healthy hydration level. Depending on your own body’s needs, it can decrease the amount of water passed in your urine so that your body can use the water.
Anti-diuretic hormone also helps regulate blood pressure by causing blood vessels to constrict or expand.
When your blood pressure drops, this signals to your receptors that you might be at risk for dehydration or even hemorrhage, so they stimulate the release of ADH to help prevent too much dilution and keep a higher level of fluid volume in the body. Stress, injury, thirst, low salt levels, and vomiting or pain can also indicate to your hypothalamus that it’s time to pump out the ADH.
How does anti-diuretic hormone help you sleep? A lot of hormones go into production at night to help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. Anti-diuretic hormone increases as you sleep to prevent waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
ADH starts slowing down the kidneys so that fluid isn’t processed into your bladder as your drift off to bed. This process prevents you from waking up in the middle of important sleep cycles needing to pee. Your bladder can only hold so much fluid, so stopping it from getting there in the first place is the easiest way to make sure you stay sound asleep.
Ever wake up after a night of drinking a little too much feeling like your bladder is about to burst? This is a direct result of your ADH levels—alcohol interferes with your ability to regulate your water retention. Because it dehydrates you, but keeps your salt levels high, your receptors aren’t able to properly communicate with your body and send out the correct amount of ADH. Lowering your ADH increases the amount of urine you produce, so you’ll end up wide-awake (With or without a massive hangover!) trying to stave off the spins long enough to make it to the nearest bathroom.
What happens if you have too little, or too much, ADH? You might be wondering, “Well, what happens if I have too much anti-diuretic hormone?” or “It sounds like I don’t have enough ADH?”
A few things can be impacting your ADH production, and if you have any worries, you should always talk with your doctor. Anti-diuretic hormone can be impacted by a few things—including medications, salt levels, certain lung diseases, and other hormone interactions. Too much ADH and your kidneys will excrete too much water, leaving you dehydrated and causing your blood pressure to fall. High levels of ADH will retain too much water and dilute your salt levels.
Recent studies have also found that Sleep Apnea can have a huge impact on your ADH levels—causing you to wake up in the middle of night. Severe Sleep Apnea can cause other issues, so be sure to speak with a doctor is you suspect you might be suffering at night.
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