Menopause and Sleep

Menopause is a huge transition in the life of a woman, but it should be one that occurs with few symptoms outside the cessation of menses. Unfortunately, many women experience a variety of symptoms that can become fairly severe. Sleeplessness is just one of the symptoms that can affect menopausal women, but it can have a very dramatic impact on quality of life.

Sleeplessness in menopause is associated with three separate disorders: insomnia/depression, sleep disordered breathing and fibromyalgia. The ultimate decline of estrogen and the resulting potential imbalance of hormones can be major players in the symptoms affecting sleep quality, one of the most common being hot flashes. It's not hard to see why these three disorders may lead to sleep difficulty, but the question that remains to be answered is how we can help support the body in decreasing the impact of these problems on overall sleep quality.

There are many ways to improve the overall qua lit of sleep. One of the most powerful options is through lifestyle. Regular exercise can help to maintain a healthy body weight and decreased the severity of sleep disordered breathing, as sleep apnea symptoms decrease with weight loss. Exercise has also been shown to improve the quality of life in those suffering from fibromyalgia, and there dis evidence to support the recommendation of moderate physical activity to improve sleep quality in older adults.

Dietary supplement options are also available to support overall quality of sleep. Some of the best recommendations are:

L-Tryptophan: Studies have shown that the use of this serotonin precursor can be taken in amounts of 1-4g about an hour prior to bed. When taking an SSRI medication, you must be careful when combining it with tryptophan as this may increase the potential for serotonin syndrome.

Lavendar Oil: This volatile oil has been shown to be calming and may be beneficial.

Melatonin: Supplementing with melatonin can help to improve sleep quality and can help to reset your body's internal clock. Research supports the use of 0.5 to 3.0mg about one to two hours prior to going to sleep.

Valerian: Taking between 300-600mg of a concentrated root extract about 30 minutes prior to bed has been shown to help you fall asleep faster and can improve sleep quality.

Waking up throughout the night is something that you should only have do when your young children are still learning to sleep through the night. When someone is going through menopause, sleepless nights can have a tremendous effect on their "golden years." Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help to improve your sleep quality and allow you to enjoy this wonderful chapter of life.