Sleep Problems and Perimenopause

Sleep Problems and Perimenopause

sleep problemsBy Rebecca Mendoza, CNP, NCMP

Many things can affect the length and quality of the sleep we get, from stress levels to diet. Perimenopause, a stage that typically lasts at least a few years, can also cause interrupted sleep and insomnia. Many common symptoms of perimenopause like hot flashes, night sweats and mood changes can affect sleep, but hormones affect sleep in many other ways, as well. Fortunately, there are habits you can develop and treatments such as bioidentical hormone replacement therapy that can help.

During this stage in a woman’s life, the ovaries don’t produce as much estrogen. Many of the varied symptoms women experience are a direct result of these lower levels of estrogen in the body. There’s also a reduction in the production of a sleep-promoting hormone called progesterone. Less progesterone can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. Hormone levels can fluctuate up and down during perimenopause, which can mean difficulty sleeping even when the levels may not be that low.

There are several do-it-yourself strategies that might help you get a good night’s sleep. According to The National Sleep Foundation, one of the most important things perimenopausal women can do is remain consistent. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, developing a calming routine, avoiding both caffeine and alcohol, and keeping a damp, cool cloth nearby in the case of hot flashes can help you weather those rough nights.

Hormone replacement therapy with bioidentical progesterone and estrogen can also help manage perimenopausal symptoms. Bioidentical hormones are chemically and molecularly indistinguishable from the hormones your body naturally produces. They’re available in commercial formulas as well as in custom formulas from compounding pharmacies that allow for combinations not available in standard prescriptions. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help relieve perimenopausal symptoms across the board, including insomnia and disturbed sleep.

Estrogen helps regulate body temperature, which is why lower levels often lead to hot flashes and night sweats. Estrogen also plays a role in helping you achieve a stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement or REM sleep that’s linked to learning, mood regulation, memory and production of proteins that help the body rebound and recover. We also dream during REM sleep. Bioidentical estrogen can not only relieve hot flashes and other obvious symptoms of menopause, it may also help promote normal levels of REM sleep.

Progesterone has a sedative effect and sleep-inducing properties. When hormone levels fluctuate during perimenopause, sleep patterns as well as energy levels can become unpredictable. Bioidentical progesterone can make it easier for you to doze off and it can improve the quality of sleep once you’re there. Progesterone also serves as a stimulant for the respiratory system which appears to help promote better breathing and reduces the disruptive instances of sleep apnea.

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in a formula that works for you, along with good sleep habits and routines, can help you get more rejuvenating sleep during perimenopause.

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