Besides hot flashes, insomnia is one of the most aggravating symptoms that women experience during menopause. However, you can treat menopausal insomnia, and today we are going to talk about what you can do to best deal with this symptom.
Insomnia can be incredibly disruptive to one’s life. No one wants to toss and turn in the middle of the night, have trouble falling asleep, and then wake up in the wee morning hours.
However, insomnia is very common. It affects over 60% of women who go through the change.
So what causes insomnia during menopause? Like many other symptoms, it’s caused by hypothalamic dysregulation, which controls your day/night cycles. Within your hypothalamus are nerves called hypothalamic nuclei. They are innervated by your exposure to light. These nerves literally tell your pineal gland to produce melatonin after dusk and to stop making melatonin at dawn.
What happens at dusk is a very interesting process. The pink light of dusk blocks the blue light of daytime, which turns on melatonin production. And when the sun rises, melatonin drops and your hypothalamus produces dopamine. Dopamine stimulates a cortisol surge so that you can start your day.
However, this process goes a little haywire during menopause.
Low levels of estrogen dysregulate your hypothalamus which in turn throws off your circadian rhythm. When your hypothalamus is out of balance, your adrenal glands then produce cortisol at the wrong time. You’re supposed to produce cortisol after dawn, which peaks between 8 am and 2 pm. But instead, your production of cortisol spikes in the middle of the night. This can cause you to wake up feeling anxious and unable to fall back asleep.
During menopause, not only does your hypothalamus get out of whack, but your falling progesterone levels affect your ability to fall asleep. This is because progesterone helps you produce GABA, which then allows your body and mind to relax so that you can start to fall asleep. And as you progress through perimenopause, then enter menopause, you start having trouble staying asleep. You tend to wake up in the wee morning hours, usually between two and four am.
So how do you treat insomnia?
Hormone replacement therapy will definitely help with insomnia. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is preferred, which provides progesterone to help you fall asleep. It also provides estrogen to help you stay asleep. Remember that if you take estrogen, you should take progesterone to protect your tissues from unwanted growth. And of course, take it in a transdermal form, through the skin, rather than orally. This is so you do not increase your risk of blood clots. It’s fine to take estrogen and progesterone when your ovaries are no longer producing them and can be done for as long as you need it. Whether you take hormone replacement therapy or not is an individual decision. It is a personal decision to treat your hormones, not a general protocol that applies to everyone.
Melatonin can also help temporarily deal with menopausal insomnia. However, constantly taking melatonin without a break will suppress your ability to make it on your own. The more you take it, the more you will become dependent. You will then need to take increasingly higher doses in order to sleep.
The most effective way to reset your circadian rhythm and not be dependent on melatonin or hormone therapy is to support your hypothalamus.
Your hypothalamus controls your night and day cycles, and if these cycles are off, you’re going to have trouble falling and staying asleep. When your hypothalamus functions optimally, it’s going to help you reach the deepest level of sleep at night and feel rejuvenated in the morning.
I love how the phytonutrients in Genesis Gold® and amino acids in Sacred Seven® support your hypothalamus in order to reset your circadian rhythm and help you sleep through the night.
It’s so amazing to me how much that your hypothalamus controls: your rate of aging, body temperature, weight setpoint, metabolism, and your quality of sleep. So don’t waste another sleepless night fighting with your dysregulated hypothalamus. Balance them naturally with Genesis Gold® and Sacred Seven®.
We talk a lot about the best ways to deal with hot flashes in our Hormone Support Group, which we’d love for you to join! You can access our group by joining our Hormone Reboot Training.