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General Medical Questions
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Question : I think my new thyroid medicine is causing insomnia? How long does this last?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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March 18, 2014
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There are so many reasons for people to have difficulty sleeping. So it may not be your thyroid medicine. But if it is the cause, it should go away once your body adjusts to taking it.

Most people who take this medicine or similar ones have an underactive thyroid. This is called hypothyroidism.

Doctors use the result of a blood test, called TSH (for thyroid stimulating hormone) to guide the right dose of thyroid medicine.

TSH is made by the pituitary gland in the brain and released into the blood stream. The pituitary gland releases more or less TSH depending on the blood level of thyroid hormone.

If your dose of levothyroxine is too low, the pituitary gland will release more TSH into the blood. So the TSH test will show an abnormally high level.

The opposite happens when your thyroid medicine dose is too high. The pituitary turns off the release of TSH. Now the TSH blood level will be very low.

With just the right dose, your TSH remains in the normal range.

If you are having insomnia and think it may be related to your levothyroxine, you and your doctor may decide to lower your dose. This might be true even if your TSH is in the normal range. How you feel is just as important as your TSH level.

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