Does Menopause Impact Your Sleep Cycle? Master Nutritionist Dr. Kristina Campione Explains The Causes And The Cures
Hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain... all sound familiar? These menopause symptoms get a lot of attention, and for good reason, but did you know menopause can be the cause of your insomnia, too?
As if all those well documented symptoms weren’t irritating enough, now you can also blame menopause for why you are exhausted during the day but wide awake at night. And it’s not just you. It’s estimated that up to 60% of menopausal women experience symptoms of insomnia.
Why then, is a decrease in estrogen and progesterone keeping you up at night? The answer lies in your endocrine system, where the organs that produce the body’s multitude of hormones are located. They communicate with one another like a hormone information web, influencing how several others will react. Similar to a ripple effect, an imbalance in one place can cause disruptions in others.
This is particularly significant for women because the levels of our sex hormones influence sleep cycles and our circadian rhythm, which functions as your body’s internal clock. Variances occur in these cycles with regular hormonal fluctuations during events like our menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause.
Ideally, during menopause as our ovaries drop their production of estrogen and progesterone, the adrenal glands (two pyramid shaped glands that sit atop the kidneys) are usually able to produce sex hormones to offset some of the decline. But stress can deplete these glands causing “adrenal fatigue” and inhibit their ability to produce enough of the hormones that should send you off to dream land. Given the times and our way of life, I’d be impressed if many women could attest to having no stress in their life. Anyone? Bueller?
So now you’re so tired even your glands are exhausted. Do adrenal glands like espresso? Asking for a friend. But seriously, what can we do to get back to a good night’s sleep? Luckily there are some strategies you can employ to get you back to dream land.
- STRESS MANAGEMENT: For starters, healthy stress management strategies are key, and those can look different for everyone. Many turn to yoga, walking or running, and meditation, but stress management can look like anything that lowers your anxiety and gets those endorphins going. Pet a dog, dance in your kitchen (a personal favorite of mine), garden, or maybe indulge in some self-care with quality beauty products.
- DIET MATTERS: Current research suggests that diet can play a big role in influencing the severity of menopause symptoms, sleep included. So it’s really important to maintain a diet that nourishes the body and more specifically the adrenal glands. For basics, start by eliminating processed foods and filling your plate with pastured meats and eggs, wild fish, whole grains, nuts/seeds, fermented foods, and lots and lots of produce. These provide your body with healthy fats, antioxidants and plenty of nutrients to combat inflammation and manage hormonal changes. Organ meats, like liver, are full of B vitamins, zinc, vitamin D and A to support adrenal function. If organ meats are not your thing (I get it), bone broth, made from slow cooking bones in a crock pot (or purchased pre-made) can also be an excellent way to provide collagen, as well as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus that support the adrenals, gut and your bones! Keep sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, and caffeine to a minimum as they can worsen your symptoms and disrupt your sleep cycles. And remember to stay hydrated! Dehydration can cause your adrenals to release more cortisol making the problem worse.
- SLEEP HYGIENE: Go to bed and wake at the same time every day, even on your days off. Eliminate screens an hour before bed and make your bedroom a dark, comfortable place to sleep. This will help your brain release melatonin, preparing your body for a good night’s rest.
- SUPPLEMENTS: There are several supplements that may be of benefit like licorice root, ashwagandha, B complex, magnesium and vitamins A, C, E, and D, fish oil and selenium. Be sure to consult with a physician before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you are on any medications or have any other health complications.
Dr. Kristina Campione is a chiropractic Physician, Master Nutritionist and founder of Campione Nutrition. For more of her helpful tips, or to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, visit drcampione.com.