Most women know that once they go through menopause that their sleep habits may change. Insomnia is an incredibly common symptom in menopause. As you’re going through the change of life, problems sleeping can start in perimenopause and extend all the way through menopause.
Usually, once you go through menopause and you’ve been menopausal for a couple years, your sleep patterns adjust to your lower hormones and you’re able to sleep again, but some women in post-menopause will continue to have issues with insomnia.
So what’s going on? Well, we’ve discussed a lot about how menopause affects your hypothalamus. That’s really the issue. Your dysfunctional menopausal hypothalamus.
Being able to sleep through the night or not has to do with how balanced your hypothalamus is.
Your hypothalamus controls your day-night cycles – your sleep rhythms. Your hypothalamus is incredibly sensitive to light. It tells your pineal gland when to make melatonin and wakes you up in the morning with bursts dopamine to turn off prolactin. Prolactin is another nocturnal hormone that helps put you into the deepest sleep and triggers your immune system to protect you.
When your hypothalamus becomes out of sync at menopause because your estrogen and progesterone levels have fallen, your day-night cycles can be really messed up. It’s very difficult to fall asleep, and more so, it’s difficult to stay asleep.
You don’t go into that deep REM sleep, and you’re easily awakened – waking up between two and four in the morning is very very common.
So, once you’re through the change and you’re past menopause – you’re in the postmenopausal period – what can you do to get back to sleep.
Well, of course taking hormone replacement therapy through the change can help. But what if you’ve decided not to take any bioidentical hormones, what can you do about the insomnia?
Well, at this point your melatonin levels have dropped pretty significantly. Taking low doses of melatonin, especially in a sustained-release form – meaning it’s not going to be released into your body right away but starts to release quite a few hours after you take it – can actually help you to get deeper sleep and stay asleep.
And you don’t have to take melatonin forever. You can actually help to reset your circadian rhythm by taking melatonin for about three weeks. And then slowly weaning off of it again.
But there’s more that you can do. It’s super important that you practice really good sleep hygiene throughout the change of life and especially in the postmenopausal period. When you get up in the middle of the night because you have to urinate and turn on all the lights and find that you’re not being able to fall back asleep so you watch TV to calm down,- that’s not the way to reset your circadian rhythm.
You should not be exposed to any light at night because it disrupts your melatonin production drastically. A study was done on college students in which researchers kept the subjects sleep-deprived for multiple days. And then finally allowed them to sleep in a completely dark room and checked their salivary melatonin levels, which were nice and high until they shone a small penlight on the back of their knees. The light didn’t even have to shine in their eyes in order for their melatonin levels to drop.
That’s how sensitive your body is to light. And so exposing yourself to any light at night will diminish your ability to make an adequate amount of melatonin so that you do not go into a deep sleep. And without deep sleep, you won’t ever feel rested. So, turn off all of those lights.
How to sleep through the night
1. No blue light exposure after dusk.
Blue light mimics the sun and turns off your melatonin production. So please stop looking at digital products – your phone, your iPad, your computer, and the TV screen – after dusk. Read a book, play games, maybe do some crafts but don’t use digital products because it will interfere with your melatonin production. If you must use a digital product or look at a screen, then consider using blue light blocking glasses, so that at least your eyes are not being exposed to that blue light but remember your skin still is.
2. Sleep in the dark.
Be sure that your room is completely dark. Absolutely dark, there can’t be any lights in the room, including little digital lights, LED lights, blinking lights – cover them all up. So you’re not exposed to any light at all.
3. Keep your room cool.
In order to go into a deep sleep, your room temperature needs to be between 60 and 67 degrees – lower than that you’ll feel chilly, but if it’s higher than that those warmer temperatures will actually interfere with your sleep. So be sure that your room is the proper temperature. Make sure you have good adequate air circulation in the room. Some people like a fan blowing or a window open.
4. Use white noise.
If you’re very sensitive to sound, it can really help to use white noise to go into deep sleep. Everyone has a different white noise that really helps them sleep, whether it’s the sound of ocean waves, a babbling brook, rain falling, crickets chirping, frogs, whatever it might be. Find the sound helps you relax and play it all night long, not just enough to initiate sleep but for a full eight hours. That will make a huge difference. And there’s actually sound machines that are not digital that you can play for all night long and not expose yourself to Wi-Fi or cellular.
5. Get your Hypothalamus in balance.
Try to balance out your hypothalamus so that you can reset your circadian rhythm and go into a deeper sleep, which will also help to reset your whole brain chemistry so that you have more energy in the morning and better memory. Your hypothalamus is incredibly sensitive to nutraceutical support. You just need the right combination of plant-based nutrition and amino acids to balance your hypothalamus.
You’ll notice deeper sleep within the first month but your hypothalamus needs at least three months to fully heal. If you’ve suffered for years from chronic illnesses then it may take longer. The best way to support your hypothalamus and reset your sleep cycles is to use Genesis Gold. For the most severe cases of insomnia adding extra Sacred Seven amino acids to Genesis Gold will help hasten the healing.
Research regarding the Hypothalamus and your hormones can be found here.