There you were, cruising happily through bedtimes during your twenties and thirties, able to fall asleep every night and stay that way. Then somewhere between your late thirties to mid-forties you collapse into bed exhausted each night only to find your brain and body are intent on staying awake. Or you fall asleep only to wake up over and over all night long. Welcome to perimenopause, that phase of life prior to menopause when hormone production wanes and becomes erratic! Symptoms are many, the more notorious being hot flashes and night sweats, but insomnia and poor sleep rank among the most tortuous of perimenopausal battles.
When you’re wondering how to get to sleep fast, the internet is overflowing with supplements, audio hypnosis downloads, and suggestions for good sleep hygiene. While all these can play a role in relieving insomnia, for perimenopausal women, they may not be not enough. Prescription sleeping medication may be tempting, but it’s not considered a viable long-term solution and it can be very addicting. So what can you do?
The real culprit the perimenopausal woman should look at is her hormone levels, as low or imbalanced reproductive hormones can cause insomnia. Typically starting in her forties, a woman’s ovaries begin producing less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone decline can begin even earlier. In an ideal world, the adrenal glands, which produce our stress hormones, take over production of these hormones and the transition goes smoothly. Unfortunately, most women today enter their forties in a state of chronic stress, their adrenal glands “fried,” and either over producing or under producing stress hormones. To take on the added job of producing sex hormones is simply more than we can ask of many women’s adrenals in mid-life. That’s when hot flashes, night sweats, depression, and sleepless nights have the despondent perimenopausal woman asking, “How can I get to sleep?!?!”
A preventively-minded woman will tend to her adrenal health years earlier in her twenties and thirties. This includes not only reducing lifestyle stress, but also eliminating dietary stressors. Eating a diet lower in carbohydrates to prevent blood sugar swings, avoiding foods such as gluten or dairy that cause an immune reaction, not drinking too much alcohol, tending to bacterial gut infections and other aspects of digestive health, and supporting immune balance are all whole-body approaches that can foster proper hormone function.
For some women, it’s simply too late. The damage has been done. They may already be doing all the right things in terms of diet and lifestyle, coping the best they can with children, aging parents, jobs, a mortgage, and perhaps a chronic health issue, such as hypothyroidism. At this stage, it may be time to consider bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (bio-HRT), a form of natural hormones.
Hormone replacement therapy received a bum rap when a large study found it raised the risk of cancer and heart disease. However, synthetic hormones difficult for the body to use were used in that study. On the other hand, ample clinical and user evidence shows natural bio-identical hormones can be extremely helpful in safely restoring sanity, health, and even sleep for perimenopausal women.
When investigating bio-HRT, it’s extremely important to work with a practitioner who has extensive knowledge and experience. It’s also extremely important to use lab testing before beginning treatment and periodically throughout. Also, be willing to tweak and experiment as bio-identical hormones, which are made by a compounding pharmacist, come in all manner of delivery methods, concentrations, and ratios. Paying attention to both regular testing and symptoms are vital to finding a protocol that works for you (and that is apt to change at a moment’s notice during perimenopause). Both your practitioner and your compounding pharmacist should be sensitive to your need to sleep and willing to help you adjust your hormones to find relief.
So, if you’re a perimenopausal or postmenopausal women wondering how to get to sleep fast, before you take that sleeping pill, try balancing your hormones first. Aside from sleeping soundly once again, correcting your hormone balance can stop those unwanted hot flashes, night sweats, food cravings, mood swings and may even give you increased energy throughout the day. Now that’s something that can truly put your mind to rest!