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I Just Want To Sleep! Top 10 Tips for Better Sleep During Perimenopause & Menopause

Updated: Jun 17

Photo by cottonbro studio:

Sleep disruption is one of the most common complaints during this time, and poor sleep can negatively affect your mental and physical health. People often ask, “What is the best over-the-counter sleep aid for menopause?” The truth is that there is no best sleep aid for menopause. There are prescription medications, over-the-counter sleep aids, herbal remedies, and supplements that are often used to aid sleep, but all of these have risks.

However, lifestyle modifications are typically risk-free. Here are my top tips for a better night of sleep:

1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help regulate your body's internal clock.

2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Establish calming activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. I use the DownDog app for sleep meditation, and it has made such a difference!

3. Optimize your bedroom environment: The optimal temperature for a good night's sleep is between 60-67° F (15 to 19° C). Minimize noise (or use white noise) and eliminate all light. Even the smallest light (from a charging block or phone) can affect the quality of your sleep.

4. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake: Avoid consuming caffeinated beverages and alcohol close to bedtime. These can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to night sweats and hot flashes.

5. Manage stress: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to help alleviate anxiety and promote better sleep quality. I love an in-person yoga class, but I find that meditation apps are really convenient to use in the mornings and before bed.

6. Stay active: Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, to improve overall sleep quality and alleviate menopausal symptoms.

7. Limit screen time before bed: Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, or computers close to bedtime, as the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt melatonin production and interfere with sleep.

8. Diet: Avoid heavy meals, spicy foods, and excessive fluid intake close to bedtime, as they can cause indigestion and disrupt sleep.

9. Invest in a good mattress and bedding: I have been an Ikea mattress girl for most of my life, but investing in a high-quality mattress was worth it to me once I hit perimenopause. I still love my Ikea pillows, but I find that their sheets are not soft or cool enough for my changing body.

10. Seek treatment for menopausal symptoms: Talk to your healthcare provider about options for managing menopausal symptoms that may be interfering with your sleep. Hormone replacement therapy is the most effective option, but there are some supplements and herbal remedies that can help. See my notes about the risks and benefits of the most popular options below.

Keep in mind that in addition to perimenopause and menopause, other underlying medical conditions can disrupt sleep. These include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, autoimmune, and neurological disorders. If lifestyle modifications are not improving your sleep or you have any other worrying symptoms, please talk to your healthcare provider.

Supplements for Sleep

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, and it's often used as a supplement to help improve sleep. Research suggests that melatonin can be effective for certain sleep disorders, such as insomnia or jet lag, especially when used in the short term. However, its effectiveness may vary from person to person. These supplements are generally considered safe for short-term use, but they may cause side effects such as drowsiness, headaches, or dizziness in some individuals. Additionally, while melatonin can help with sleep initiation, it may not be as effective for staying asleep throughout the night.

Magnesium is involved in several processes in the body that are related to sleep, including the regulation of neurotransmitters and the maintenance of normal levels of melatonin. Additionally, magnesium has been found to help relax muscles and calm the nervous system, which can contribute to better sleep.

However, while magnesium supplementation may be beneficial for some individuals, its effectiveness for improving sleep can vary from person to person. It's also important to note that magnesium supplements can cause side effects such as diarrhea or stomach upset in some people, especially when taken in high doses. The safest way to supplement any vitamin or mineral is to increase your dietary intake. Magnesium-rich foods include nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains.

Herbal Remedies for Sleep

Several herbal remedies have been studied for their potential to help improve sleep. While more research is needed to fully confirm their effectiveness, some herbs have shown promise in promoting better sleep. Here are a few:

1. Valerian Root

Valerian root has been used for centuries to treat insomnia and anxiety. Some studies suggest it can help improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

2. Chamomile

Chamomile is well-known for its calming effects and is often consumed as a tea before bedtime. It contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which may help induce sleep.

3. Lavender

Lavender, particularly in the form of essential oil, has been shown to improve sleep quality. Aromatherapy with lavender oil is often used to promote relaxation and ease insomnia.

4. Passionflower

Passionflower is believed to have calming effects and has been used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Some studies suggest it may help improve sleep quality.

5. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and has traditionally been used to reduce stress and improve sleep. It can be consumed as tea or taken as a supplement.

6. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, a natural substance, used in traditional medicine systems, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ashwagandha is known for its stress-reducing properties, and some studies indicate it may help improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia.

7. Magnolia Bark

Magnolia bark has been used in traditional medicine for its sedative and anxiety-reducing effects. Some research suggests it may help improve sleep quality.

A Note of Caution

Be wary of anyone selling a “natural menopause sleep aid” or touting that they have the “best supplement for menopause.” Amberen and Estroven are two of the larger companies promoting these products, and they are not cheap! Here is a list of ingredients from Amberen’s Advanced Perimenopause Relief Formula:

Vitamin E (as D-α Tocopheryl Acetate), Vitamin B1 (from Thiamine Mononitrate), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B6 (from Pyridoxine HCl), Vitamin B9 (from Folic Acid), Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin), Amberen Perimenopause Proprietary Compound (Ammonium Succinate, Disodium Fumarate, Calcium Disuccinate, Monosodium L-Glutamate, Glycine, Magnesium Disuccinate, Zinc Difumarate), Gelatin, White Rice Flour, Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, Titanium Dioxide, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Red 3, Water.

These types of supplements are a hard pass for me.

General Considerations and Risks

While these supplements and herbal remedies may help promote better sleep, their effectiveness can vary from person to person.

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to certain herbs and supplement ingredients.

Supplements are not regulated, which can lead to variations in quality and purity.

Supplements and herbal remedies can have adverse interactions with one another, and with prescription and over-the-counter medications, potentially leading to dangerous effects.

Supplements are not suitable for everyone. Children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, individuals with certain health conditions, and those undergoing surgery should use caution and consult with a healthcare provider before using any supplements or herbal remedies.

Before starting any supplement or herbal remedy, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss potential risks, benefits, and interactions with other medications or health conditions.



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