18 Aug Naturopathic Tips for Troubled Sleep during Menopause
Naturopathic Solutions for Troubled Sleep and Fatigue
Exhausted from tossing and turning all night?
How long has it been since you woke up well-rested, refreshed and ready to tackle your day? If that feeling is just a distant memory, you may be one of the many women who suffer from sleep problems and fatigue, a huge issue during menopause.
While stress and anxiety contribute to many a sleepless night, if you suffer from overwhelming fatigue the problem may be your adrenal levels, particularly the hormone cortisol. If your cortisol levels are too high at night and too low in the morning you can feel completely exhausted and have trouble functioning.
Addressing cortisol release is critical to treating the underlying issue of sleep disturbance and overcoming adrenal exhaustion: Adrenal Forte and Cortisol Reducer are two of the most supportive supplements for most menopausal-related adrenal exhaustion and sleep disturbance. A description of each is included in the Supplement section.
Nervines and botanical herbs that help with sleep latency and quality without causing dependency, lethargy or a morning hangover effect. Some of the well-researched nerviness include Valerian, California poppy, Passion flower, Motherwort, Avena sativa, Lavender and Skullcap. To get back in balance, I may suggest hormone therapy. Remember there are natural options and bioidentical hormones available. I will always individualize your therapy to meet your unique needs.
For some women, taking over-the-counter melatonin may help you break the cycle and get back into a regular sleep pattern. Natural progesterone can be another helpful solution.
You’ll also need to take an honest look at your lifestyle and make the changes necessary to reduce stress, get enough exercise, eat a healthy diet and make time to find joy in your life.
Naturopathic Solutions: What you can do to ease your symptoms
Here are some tips to help you fall asleep, stay asleep through the night, and wake up feeling rested.
- Set a routine bedtime and waking time so your body adjusts to the rhythm.
- Schedule enough time for sleep, 7-9 hours is truly needed!
- Avoid napping during the day, but if you absolutely must, limit naps to 30 minutes.
- Avoid alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime. Falling blood alcohol levels act as a stimulant.
- Avoid caffeine 6-10 hours before bedtime.
- Limit exercise right before bed as it can interrupt your ability to fall asleep.
- Don’t eat heavy, spicy or sugary foods 4-6 hours before bedtime, as they can prevent you from staying asleep.
- Establish a soothing sleeping environment with comfortable bedding.
- Avoid flannel sheets; increase the cotton count of your sheets if you’re having hot flashes or night sweats.
- Wear moisture-wicking fabric pajamas to stay cool.
- Keep your bedroom cool, which is usually the most comfortable temperature for restful sleep.
- Use a ceiling fan, even in winter. You may also want to keep a small fan on your bedside table, so you can easily adjust the air circulation as needed.
- Block out all distracting noise and light. Try a white noise machine to block noise out.
- Avoid watching TV in bed as the stimulation of light and noise can interrupt sleep. If part of pre-sleep ritual, try to shut off before falling asleep with it on.
- Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, so your body associates the location with sleep.
- To help you set aside your worries, keep a pen and paper handy so you can jot down your thoughts if you wake during the night.
- Eat a small, healthy bedtime fat rich snack such as ½ an avocado or 2 Tbsp of almond butter to keep your blood sugar levels stable during the night.
- Take a warm bath and/or read before bedtime.
- Relaxing herbs like valerian, chamomile, and lemon balm can gently bring about the onset of sleep.
- Lavender aromatherapy produces a calming affect.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and consciously relaxing your fingers, toes, limbs and shoulders.
- Get into your favorite sleep position and focus on relaxing thoughts.
- Over-the-counter products to aid sleep, such as Melatonin, may help. It’s been shown to be most effective for people who work the night shift or take overnight flights, but is a relatively safe option for many.
- We can discuss many other sleep aid options to help you get break the insomnia cycle including Cortisol Reducer, tryptophan, GABA, oral micronized progesterone, serotonin, L-theanine…
Here are some additional things you can do during your waking hours to help you get a good night’s sleep at day’s end and improve your overall health.
- Eat a healthier diet, free of processed foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the most nutritious foods are found. Check the labels and avoid foods that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined carbohydrates and sodium (salt). All can contribute to more imbalance symptoms.
- Practice portion control. Honor your cravings, but do so in moderation.
- Eat at least five servings of vegetables and about 1-two servings of fruit each day. The more colorful ones are packed with valuable nutrients. Dark green and leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards have been shown to help in memory recall and other mental functions. Fruit can spike insulin as we become more insulin resistant with age, so be sure to include unadulterated quality fats in your diet.
- Choose organic whenever possible to avoid preservatives, pesticides, hormones and other substances that disrupt hormone balance.
- Whole foods are healthiest, so pick the orange instead of the orange juice. You will get more hormone rebalancing nutrients and fiber to keep you healthy.
- Limit your caffeine intake; drink less coffee and soda.
- Drink more pure water and green tea. Note to all light sleepers, avoid caffeine after 12p.
- Load up on berries that packed with anti-oxidants blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and strawberries. Fresh or frozen, they reduce oxidative stress which assaults the cells of the body. So, “berry up” to reduce inflammation and improve your brain cell signaling.
- Avoid saturated and trans fats and choose olive oil and unadulterated nuts and seeds, and avocados.
- Choose foods high in Vitamin C red peppers, oranges, pine nuts, sunflower seeds. Great for skin protection, leading to fewer wrinkles and less skin dryness overall.
- Boost your omega-3s a beneficial fatty acid found in oily fishes, walnuts and flaxseed oils.
- Spice up your diet with herbs that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties turmeric (also known as curcumin), garlic, rosemary, and cayenne.
- Go for a walk, take the stairs and park farther away. Exercise gets your endorphins moving and helps alleviate symptoms associated with menopause.
- If you’re a smoker, seek the support you need to quit. On average, women who smoke experience menopause symptoms two years earlier than non-smokers. And smokers’ symptoms are often stronger and more troublesome.
- Chemical disruptors can also throw off your balance, so avoid perfumes and go fragrance-free.
- Make time to do the things you love, whether it’s relaxing with a good book or pursuing a favorite hobby.
- Get your life in order; getting rid of clutter can reduce your overall stress and help you manage midlife challenges.
- Reduce your stress with massage therapy, join a yoga class or meditate.
- Get more rest and a better night’s sleep.
- Speak with me about herbal therapy.
- Ask about black cohosh, and other herbs that have helped women with hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms of menopause. If you’re interested in trying herbs, you can learn more about the MenoBalance formula. More is written about this formula in the Supplement section.
- See me or your health care provider for a comprehensive exam and full assessment of your overall physical, mental and emotional health.
- Also seek assessment of brain neurotransmitters, which are hormones in the nervous system (such as serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA and dopamine) that regulate mood and sleep.
- If hormone therapy is recommended, consider bioidentical therapy which matches your body’s hormone structure.
- Other options worth exploring are adrenal support vitamins. Increasing your intake of B & C vitamins, particularly vitamin B5, B6 and B12 can be very helpful. The Adrenal Forte is a includes a combination of adaptogenic herbs and Vitamin B5 and is specially formulated for menopausal women. Don’t be tempted to buy cheap products, invest in yourself.
You are unique, so we should create an individualized plan for you detailing the type, timing and dosage of your therapy.
If you or someone you know suffers with insomnia and fatigue, feel free to drop me a line on the “contact us” page on this site. I treat patients locally at my Naturopathic practice in Vancouver, B.C. and worldwide via phone or Skype.
To your best health!
Dr Tasnim Adatya
Naturopathic Physician, Menopause Clinician, Acupuncturist, and Health Educator