Insomnia & Other Sleep Problems At Menopause
Read From Troubled To Restful Sleep: A Drug-Free Approach.
and Sleep Naturally by Stephen Holt, M.D.
Insomnia is a common complaint during peri/menopause. This insomnia often takes the form of an inability to sleep through the night. Women often wake up in the wee hours of the morning and have great difficulty getting back to sleep.
Sometimes these awakenings immediately precede a night sweat or at least a warm period where one wants to throw off the covers. Some times a woman will wake up with heart pounding and in an anxiety state for no apparent reason. Very vivid dreams may wake up other women. Other times there doesn't seem to be any reason at all why one awakes at two and three and four a.m. unable to fall back to sleep for 20 or 40 minutes or even longer.
It is possible that these awakenings are due to the body's inability to maintain a consistent temperature due to hormone fluctuations. Even if a hot flush isn't apparent to the woman, it may be that the body temperature has risen to the point where continued sleep is impossible. It will then take a period of time before body temperature falls again making getting back to sleep difficult.
There are a number of things that a woman can try in the hope of getting a better night's sleep. Check out the Recommendations Area for remedies for insomnia and anxiety.
Health food stores sell a number of different herbal teas that help some women fall asleep more easily. One can also try sleeping potions such as Calms Forte, Snoozers, Easy Sleep, Valerian Root, a natural sedative, all of which are sold at health food stores.
Let's never forget the power of certain herbal teas, especially Chamomille and Peppermint. Contains no caffeine, is pleasant to the taste and produces relaxing effects.
Melatonin is a substance that helps many older people get a better night's sleep. As we mature, our bodies do not produce as much Melatonin as they once did. The usual dose is 3 mg.
I use Melatonin on occasion. Other helpful sleep aids:
- Valerian Root -- 100 mg.
- Kava Kava -- 150 mg.
- Hops -- 75 mg.
- Skullcap -- 75 mg.
- Chamomille and peppermint tea
- Chamomille -- 75 mg.
- Passion Flower -- 50 mg.
- Calcium Carbonate -- 100 mg.
- Magnesium Oxide -- 50 mg.
- Inositol 100 mg. - 1200 mg. (Dr. Atkins calls it "Nature's own tranquilizer")
- L-Taurine -- 500 mg.
- Melatonin -- .3 mg. [recommended dosage]
An excellent remedy for sleep disorders and insomnia which contains many of these natural herbs in a proprietary blend is a product developed by internist, gastroenterologist, nutritionist, Stephen Holt, M.D. called Sleep Naturally™.
Good sleeping habits help.
Some suggestions are:
- No caffeine after noon
- No alcohol before bedtime (alcohol may help you to fall asleep but it also causes interrupted sleep)
- Regular rising and bedtimes (even on weekends)
- A bedtime ritual
- Sleep in a cool bedroom
- No daytime naps for longer than 20 minutes
- Rising if you are not sleepy
- Going to another room to read or watch TV
- Exercise no less than four or five hours before bedtime (exercise can stimulate you and keep you awake.
You might try keeping a journal or sleep log which might help determine why it is that on some night's you sleep better tha others.
Meditation and relaxation techniques help some women. Playing soft music or relaxation/subliminal tapes can be useful.
Benadryl, an antihistamine, can be taken safely. It helps some women when nothing else seems to. If the insomnia persists and is seriously affecting your quality of life, you may need a prescription for a mild tranquilizer to help you fall asleep.
Sleeping pills are probably not a good idea. They are meant for short periods of sleeplessness due to an unusually stressful event. Many sleeping pills are quickly addictive and the rebound insomnia when you stop taking them is worse than the initial insomnia. You might ask your physician about a new sleeping pill called Ambien which is new to the US but has been used in Europe for many years. It is claimed to be non-addictive and patients develop no tolerance to it.
It is also possible for some women to simply get used to the idea that they will be awake many nights for some period of time. If one tries to stay calm and do restful, relaxing things with that time, the resultant sleep loss may not be dramatic. Some women actually report being grateful for the extra time to catch up with reading and have some quiet time to themselves while the rest of the household sleeps.
As homone levels even out this insomnia often becomes less of a problem.
In any case, a perimenopausal woman needs to be aware that it is quite normal to have these early morning awakenings. There are many menopausal sisters awake with her. You'll find many of them in the wee small hours of the morning in the Insomnia forum.
Other good "starter" articles are, Menopause Survival Tips, About Your Hormones, and Menopause: Selecting A Healthcare Practioner. See the many articles in the Educate Your Body Library and the Newsworthy articles.