Insomnia and Menopause
Best Treatments for Menopause Sleep Problems
Are you suffering from insomnia? And menopause symptoms drive you crazy? Many women who had never any sleep problems start
experiencing insomnia when they enter menopause.
It is sometimes difficult to determine the cause and effect of insomnia and menopause issues, because everything is interrelated. For example:
- Do night sweats wake you up or is the tossing and turning with the related anxiety triggering night sweats?
- Is your menopause anxiety causing dooms-day thinking which prevents you from falling asleep, or is the anxiety triggered by insomnia?
However, the cause of insomnia and menopause symptoms are the topic of another article.
Here you will find the best treatment options for menopause insomnia (aside from synthetic medication) and some things you can do to support any treatment.
Menopause Insomnia Remedies
Now that you understand the relationship between insomnia and menopause, what can you do to sleep again?
If you go to a doctor, all too often you will leave with a prescription for sleep medication. Although newer medications are great if nothing else will help, often this starts a cycle of taking more and more prescription drugs. It is better to find more natural ways to get a good night’s sleep.
Herbal Remedies for Insomnia in Menopause
The best herbs for insomnia are:
Valerian is a powerful herb that is commonly used for insomnia and anxiety. It helps people fall asleep and also to regain sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. Some people have to use valerian over a period of time before they feel the effect, others benefit right away.
Be aware that a small percentage of people get agitated when they take valerian, probably due to genetic differences in the metabolism of the herb. If you have never used valerian, start with lower doses to see the effect. (Valerian is my personal favorite and I have used it since childhood. It is sometimes available as a combination with hops.)
Hops has been used since ancient times to brew beer. But did you know that it is a great herb for women in menopause? Not only has it great calming effects, it also contains a natural estrogen-like substance that is superior to Soy Isoflavones. Some studies have shown that it is very effective to help with hot flashes and night sweats.
Passionflower is milder than valerian. It is a calming herb traditionally used for anxiety and insomnia. It is often combined with other calming herbs such as valerian or lemon balm.
Ashwagandha benefits women in menopause through its calming and hormone balancing activity. It decreases anxiety but at the same time improves your mental and cognitive function. It is a great herb to fight the negative effects of stress on the body. It is especially good for women in post menopause.
Kava is also a calming herb. Kava has become somewhat controversial because it was so overhyped and has some potential severe side effects.
Natural Hormones for Menopause Insomnia
Be aware that synthetic progesterone, called progestin, does not have the sleep inducing effect. They work on different cell receptors than natural progesterone and can cause insomnia.
A low dose of progesterone is successfully being used to treat sleep problems in women. The studies have been done with 300mg / day of Prometrium, an oral micronized progesterone. You can also get natural progesterone from compounding pharmacies that are mixed in capsules with olive oil. (Prometrium uses peanut oil).
Natural progesterone cream is not recommended to treat menopausal women with insomnia because it is difficult to regulate the amount that enters the blood stream.
Melatonin is also available as a supplement. It is released naturally by the body when it gets dark to trigger sleepiness. As you get older, the body produces less and less melatonin. It is only recommended for women past middle age (50 plus) to avoid side effects. Start with very small doses of 0.2 to 0.5mg in many women this small dose is effective for their insomnia.
Depending on the reason for taking it (and only under the supervision of a health care provider) up to 20.0 mg can be used. Effect and necessary dose of melatonin varies from one individual to another.
Melatonin’s benefits reach beyond its importance for restful sleep. It is currently investigated for improving the function of the nervous system and to fight cancer.
Women who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or “winter blues”may also benefit from melatonin. During the shorter and darker winter days, the body may produce melatonin earlier in the day than usual. This can lead to depression and also fatigue.
Minerals for Insomnia and Menopause
Magnesium and calcium are two important minerals to help not only with insomnia but are essential for overall health. Both calcium and magnesium absorption decreases with age. Additionally, the amount of loss through the urine increases. This makes it important to get adequate supply of both minerals.
Magnesium helps the muscles to relax and a lack of magnesium results in restless and agitated sleep. Common symptoms of calcium deficiency are nervousness, irritability, insomnia, and headaches, not to mention osteoporosis.
Summary about Insomnia and Menopause
Menopause insomnia is often a vicious cycle of cause and effect. Although hormone fluctuations and falling progesterone and estrogen levels play a role, other factors influence sleep problems in pre and post menopause women.
Treatments range from simple lifestyle changes (which should always accompany any treatment) to herbal remedies and natural hormones.
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