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The Link between Menopause and Insomnia

Insomnia is a common symptom of menopause. However, insomnia often shows up years in advance of menopause, while still in the perimenopause phase so the association is not always evident. The fact is, the most common cause of insomnia is hormonal imbalance, so it is no wonder menopause and insomnia go hand in hand.

It has traditionally been thought that menopause and insomnia were linked because of hot flashes and night sweats which can interfere with the ability to sleep. However, it is now thought the connection lies in decreased levels of serotonin in the brain due to dropping estrogen levels in the blood.

The hormonal fluctuations and imbalances that occur during perimenopause and menopause therefore trigger insomnia, which can lead to irritability and stress which further fuels insomnia, and a vicious cycle is born.

To overcome this problem, follow the time tested tips used to combat insomnia caused by any other reason:

Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine in coffee and soft drinks, especially at bedtime.

Keep your bedroom cool.

Eliminate noise, or use a white noise machine.

Block light; use a sleep mask, or keep the lighting muted.

Exercise every day, just not right before bedtime.

Try herbal sleep teas such as chamomile right before bedtime.

If all else fails, beginning a regimen of hormone replacement therapy, may be needed to stabilize hormone levels and control menopause and insomnia. Hormone replacement therapy continues to be controversial, so this matter should be discussed with a physician to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks on a case by case basis. Your physician might also recommend using a natural method of hormone regulation such as soy, Black Cohosh, or Evening Primrose Oil.

In addition to the suggestions above, it is recommended to follow guidelines for healthy living such as eating a proper diet, getting enough exercise, and de-stressing on a regular basis. In addition, such techniques as meditation and yoga may be beneficial in quieting the mind before bedtime.

If nothing seems to work, most insomnia experts agree that it is better to get out of bed and read or do some other activity instead of lying in bed and tossing and turning. It is best to associate the bed with relaxation and sleep only, so even reading should be done elsewhere.

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