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Sleep Issues

Sleep can be significantly disrupted during menopause. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that up to 61% of women experience disturbed sleep patterns during menopause [1].

Woman struggling to fall asleep

Sleep issues can be linked to other menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats; therefore, decreasing estrogen levels can have an indirect effect on sleep. 

Changing levels of other hormones can also play a large role in sleep patterns. Progesterone is involved in the shift into deeper stages of sleep and lower levels during menopause can make it harder to achieve quality sleep, even if sleep patterns are not heavily disrupted. 

For more information on Circadian Rhythm check out these articles: 

  1. Circadian Rhythm Explained: Health and Wellbeing
  2. Struggling to Sleep? Resetting Your Body’s Circadian Rhythm

Lifestyle Changes

When considering ways to help with sleep issues small changes in lifestyle and sleep habits may have a large impact.  Managing stress, and communicating with your partner can be key steps in resolving vaginal dryness. 

Things to to help improve symptoms of sleep include: 

  1. Keep your bedroom cool
  2. Plan to wake at the same time each day
  3. Limit daytime naps
  4. Ensure you get moderate exercise regularly
  5. Make your sleeping environment comfortable.
  6. Limit exposure to bright or blue lights during the evening
  7. Limit caffeine and alcohol 

Woman struggling to sleep

Herbal Remedies for Sleep Issues

Various herbs to help with sleep

Herbal remedies can be effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of night sweats and hot flashes. Some herbal remedies can also relax the body and prepare it for sleep. These include chamomile and valerian. 

Melatonin

Melatonin is strongly associated with falling asleep naturally. The pineal gland is activated when it is dark and produces melatonin. The rise in melatonin levels helps to make you feel tired in preparation for sleep. 

Melatonin chemical structure

As we get older, our bodies produce less melatonin [2]. Different aspects of modern life can further affect melatonin production; for example, “blue light” from screens and devices can disrupt melatonin levels. 

Supplements that contain melatonin can promote better sleep, particularly during menopause. In a study involving perimenopausal and menopausal women ranging from 42 to 62 years old, melatonin was found to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression [3]*. This led researchers to highlight the potential that melatonin could help to affect the “derangement of pineal and pituitary-controlled ovarian cyclicity”. 

Serotonin

Serotonin chemical structure

Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA are also very important for sleep [4, 5]*. Serotonin is the precursor of melatonin, which is closely associated with our body’s sleep-wake cycle and ability to sleep. Serotonin levels can drop or be reduced during menopause due to changing estrogen levels [6]*. If the brain has less than optimum levels of these neurotransmitters, it is harder for the body to achieve the deep, restorative sleep needed for good health. 

Supplements that boost the body’s levels of key neurotransmitters can be particularly useful for reducing sleep problems during menopause. 

Magnesium

Foods with magnesium

As production of estrogen (and other female hormones) declines during perimenopause, magnesium levels can be altered too. Stress can also deplete the body’s magnesium levels. Given that menopause is a very stressful time for most women, magnesium may need to be supplemented. 

Magnesium is also an important mineral for sleep and helps muscles to relax*. If you have lower levels of magnesium, it can make it much harder to fall asleep easily. Supplementing with magnesium can be a natural way to improve sleep quality during menopause, particularly for women who do not consume many magnesium rich foods. There are multiples salt forms of magnesium and it’s important to use the right type.

It’s worth being aware that taking too much magnesium can make you more likely to experience side effects. These can range from fairly mild side effects, such as diarrhea and stomach upset to more serious problems such as low blood pressure, slow heart rate or cardiac arrest. Women who are taking high blood pressure or heart medications should talk with a medical professional before starting any new supplements. 

Rules of healthy sleep

Disclaimers:

You should always consult your health care provider before starting any herbal supplements or products.   *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References

  1. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/menopause-and-sleep
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3783419
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11226744
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11983310
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10622375
  6. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/study-shows-link-age-menopause-depression-later/
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