Insomnia and Menopause

I wish I didn't know so much from personal experience about insomnia and menopause. I was the type of person who could sleep anywhere - on the plane, in the car, at home, or at any hotel while traveling. Even during difficult and stressful times, I could fall asleep right away and stay asleep. That is until I hit my late 40's.

Hormones and Sleep

Hormones can contribute to the cause of insomnia during premenopause, perimenopause, and menopause.

Levels of estrogen and progesterone drop or get out of balance which interferes with one's ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.  In the United States, the average age for menopause is 51 and for most women this transition takes place between the ages of 45 and 55.  It isn't until you have not had a period for at least a year before you are considered menopausal. 

Progesterone is a hormone that helps us to feel sleepy and helps to induce sleep. According to Harvard trained OB-GYN, Dr. Sara Gottfried, the author of The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive and Vitality Naturally with the Gottfried Protocol "I can say that progesterone provides contentment ... Progesterone literally soothes you when you get enraged. It helps you sleep. When you produce the right amount, you feel more levelheaded and relaxed."

My insomnia developed when I started menopause.  But hormones also affect sleep in women for those who are pregnant or premenstrual.   Many health experts talk about excess estrogen or estrogen dominance.  Estrogen dominance is not due to taking the hormone estrogen.   It is due to over-exposure of this hormone in food we eat and in environmental toxins.  Estrogen "excites" while progesterone "calms."  

Your body's hormones may be out of balance and it may be contributing to your insomnia. 

 Ask your doctor for a saliva test to determine your hormone levels.   If he/she finds that you are estrogen dominant and low in progesterone most doctors will prescribe a progesterone cream. 

According to Susan Lark, M.D., the author Dr. Susan's Solutions: Progesterone - The Superstar of Hormone Balance: "Women deficient in progesterone often have trouble falling or staying asleep. Fortunately, increasing your levels of this hormone can help to restore normal sleep patterns." This helpful book for women who want to know more about this important hormone can find it at Amazon here: Dr. Susan's Solutions: Progesterone - The Superstar of Hormone Balance 


Estrogen Dominance and Progesterone

Are you aware that as we enter menopause it is not uncommon for women to experience estrogen dominance? 

There are many reasons for this. Even though estrogen production is greatly diminished, progesterone production has virtually stopped.

Of course there is nothing we can do about aging, but there are other lifestyle factors that can influence our progesterone levels.

According to Susan M. Lark, M.D. and author of Progesterone - The Superstar of Hormone Balance "Progesterone therapy during perimenopause and the postmenopausal years can potentially reduce fatigue and increase energy by improving sleep quality .... In fact, this hormone is thought to restore normal sleep patterns."

Many women with PMS experience insomnia. Hormones may be to blame.  Progesterone is made by the corpus luteum of the ovary at ovulation and to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands.  Estrogen is the dominant hormone during days 1-14 of your menstrual cycle.  From the day of ovulation until the beginning of your next cycle, estrogen levels decline and progesterone should increase. If your body is unable to produce enough progesterone during the second half of your cycle, women will suffer the symptoms of PMS.

Progesterone is actually a precursor for other important hormones like cortisol, androstenedione, estrogen and testosterone.  It also is an  important contributor to thyroid health and functioning.  Known for its calming affect, healthy levels of this steroid hormone contributes to restful sleep. 

Ask your doctor to perform a saliva test to determine your progesterone levels. If it is low he/she may prescribe bio-idential hormones or progesterone cream can be ordered on line. I purchase the NOW brand because of its ingredients, like organic aloe vera and because they do not use parabens, petro-chemicals or artificial fragrances. You can check them out here: NOW Foods Progesterone Cream, 3 Ounces

Insomnia and Perimenopause

For many women the change in one's ability to fall or stay asleep may be their first symptom or indication that they are beginning menopause. This transition period is called perimenopause. This was true for me, even though my periods were regular and unchanged.

Dr. Gottfried discusses the hormonal changes and symptoms that occur with perimenopause which roughly begins around age thirty-five.  One of those disturbing symptoms is poor sleep. 

Hormone imbalance symptoms in women include 

Hormones and Sleep

The ovaries produce the most progesterone, but the adrenal glands also produce a small amount. Our hormones and hormone balance are all inter-related. If one hormone is low, another hormone becomes dominant. Dr. Gottfried explains, "When you have a lifestyle that keeps you in high demand for cortisol, your body will steal from your supply of progesterone ..."

Another hormone that goes awry during menopause is cortisol.  One way to describe how some women feel is "wired and tired."  I've experienced this "wired" feeling that persists into the evening and bedtime, making it hard to wind down and relax.  This is why, " Women in menopause have low cortisol during the day (which make them feel tired) and high cortisol at night, which makes them worry about everything from the stock market to ... finding their dream job. "

You can get your book at Amazon, apply what you learn and find that your insomnia and menopause is a thing of the past:

The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive and Vitality Naturally with the Gottfried Protocol

Magnesium Health Benefits

I have an "aresenal" of magnesium supplements - from liquid magnesium to magnesium lotions. "I think magnesium is the underrated all-star in terms of menopausal women," says Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD. 

In the book, Transdermal Magnesium Therapy: A New Modality for the Maintenance of Health, Dr. Mark Circus points out that magnesium is "not only good for bones, but it also helps prevent heart disease and can keep you calm and help you sleep though out the night." Dr. Gittleman believes that all women going through menopause should take magnesium supplements along with flaxseed.

Liquid magnesium allows a person to get adequate amounts of this important mineral without the side effects of loose stools or diarrhea.   I just mix it with water twice a day but if you want to hide the take add it to some juice.  I use Mega-Mag 400 mg by Trace Minerals:

Liquid Mega-Mag

Hot Flashes, Night Sweats and Sleep

Insomnia and menopause can result from hot flashes. Hot flashes or hot flushes are sleep disrupters for approximately 75% of menopausal women according to Dr. Michael Breus, the author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.

Some women wake up with just a feeling of warmth and being hot, while other women wake up only to find their nightgowns and sheets damp or wet from sweat. For those who need to get up out of bed and change their nightgown or sheets, falling back to sleep becomes more difficult.

Hot flashes are the result of a surge of adrenaline making it even more challenging to feel sleepy and ready to go back to sleep. Here are some tips that have worked for me:

1. Adjust the temperature of the room so that is is cooler.

2. Use a ceiling fan or portable fan near your bed to keep the air circulating

Cool Sleep

I have found a combination of cooling sheets, mattress pad and mattress topper - OK along with a bed fan and a cooling gel mat have decreased the number of times I wake up at night too hot.

It's also important to wear only 100% breathable cotton nightwear - no polyester.

Find out about:

Cooling sheets, mattress toppers and bed fans


Insomnia and Yoga

"Yoga can be a tremendous ally in battling insomnia," says Roger Cole, an Yoga teacher and sleep research scientist. Relaxing poses like Legs Up On the Wall Pose and the Easy Pose can be held for 5 to 15 minutes before hopping into bed.

Books on Menopause

Restoring quality sleep is possible for those who are in menopause. It will take some work and some lifestyle changes and trips to your doctor to test your hormone levels, but it will be well worth it. Three books that I recommend are:

1. The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive and Vitality Naturally with the Gottfried Protocol

2. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause (TM): The Breakthrough Book on Natural Hormone Balance

3. The Wisdom of Menopause : Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change

The sleep aid information presented here is for educational purposes only and does not provide specific medical advice. The statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease.

Always consult your doctor with sleep or insomnia questions regarding before starting any diet, exercise, or supplement program.

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