Medical Disclaimer: The following content should not be used as medical advice or as a recommendation for any specific supplement or medication. It is important to consult your health care provider prior to starting a new medication or altering your current dosage.
Menopause is the phase of life when the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. Changes in hormones can lead to a range of symptoms that affect a person’s physical and emotional well-being. In particular, getting a good night’s sleep is a common challenge for those going through menopause.
There are likely many reasons why the process of menopause affects sleep, such as hormonal changes, life stressors, having other medical conditions, or dealing with symptoms like hot flashes. Regardless of the cause, experts know that not getting enough sleep can negatively impact daily life, and even worsen symptoms of menopause.
Fortunately, there may be help in the form of supplements. For example, melatonin, B vitamins, and other supplements have been shown to reduce some of the symptoms of menopause and the sleep disruption that can go along with it. Learn more about supplements for people who may want to improve sleep throughout the stages of menopause.
Melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain, plays a critical role in the 24-hour body clock that regulates sleep. Darkness signals the brain to produce melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy. Sometimes, people with difficulty sleeping don’t produce enough melatonin. For these people, melatonin supplements may help improve sleep.
Melatonin levels may start to decline during menopause. Thus, taking melatonin as a nightly supplement may help improve sleep onset and sleep quality. People have also reported that melatonin has been beneficial in improving symptoms of depression and mood changes, which can affect sleep.
How Melatonin Helps With Sleep During Menopause
Melatonin production slows down as all people age, but menopause is one particular stage where melatonin levels drop considerably. Experts suggest that the sleep problems associated with menopause are likely due to a combination of decreasing hormone production and lower melatonin levels.
Because melatonin levels begin to drop around the time of life that people begin menopause, supplementing with melatonin might improve sleep. Melatonin supplements may enhance sleep quality in both those undergoing menopause and in those who are past menopause.
In the later phases of menopause, sleep problems can occur along with other health conditions like fibromyalgia or depression. These health conditions can worsen as melatonin levels continue to decline and sleep becomes further disrupted. Adequate sleep is important for managing these conditions, especially during menopause, and melatonin may help for some people.
Other Benefits of Melatonin
Besides improving sleep and mood, melatonin may offer other benefits to people who are going through menopause.
- Improvements in Pain: As people reach menopausal age, their risk of developing chronic pain conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia increases. Some evidence suggests that melatonin may provide some direct relief from pain and morning stiffness.
- Improved Bone Density: Melatonin may also improve bone density and strength. During menopause, a decline in estrogen leads to a loss of bone density, but melatonin can help promote bone growth.
- Maintaining Body Mass: Melatonin may even promote a healthy body mass. Some research shows that melatonin therapy is associated with lower levels of body fat or a reduction in body mass index in postmenopausal individuals.
Experts believe that melatonin is safe for short-term use among most adults who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. However, evidence supporting long-term use of melatonin is limited. Serious side effects are uncommon, but some people find that it can cause drowsiness and headache.
At this time, experts find that melatonin works best for treating specific sleep concerns like jet lag or delayed sleep-wake phase syndrome. Melatonin may also interact with other medications and may not be appropriate for people with certain health conditions.
It is also important to know that melatonin is classified as a supplement and is not regulated like drugs are in the U.S. People should consider talking to a health care provider before trying melatonin to learn more about the potential risks and benefits. And make sure you take the right melatonin dosage for your age and weight.
B vitamins help your body turn food into energy and form red blood cells. There are eight types of B vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), B6, biotin (B7), B12, and folic acid. B vitamins are found in a wide variety of foods, like fish, chicken, meat, eggs, and leafy green vegetables.
B vitamins are essential for supporting the functions of the heart and nervous system as well as maintaining normal metabolism. Inadequate intake of B vitamins can lead to anemia, fatigue, and cognitive problems. The risk of B vitamin deficiencies increases with age, so people may want to talk to their doctor about their nutritional needs as they reach menopause.
How Do B Vitamins Help With Sleep During Menopause?
Menopause often comes with symptoms that keep people awake at night. In particular, hot flashes and mood changes can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Getting enough B vitamins from your diet or with supplementation may help alleviate some of these frustrating symptoms.
Low levels of certain types of B vitamins can cause health problems that affect the well-being of a person going through menopause. The benefits of using B vitamins to treat the symptoms are complex and should be discussed with a health care provider.
- Vitamin B6: A low vitamin B6 level may be associated with lower mood. Although supplementation with B6 does not appear to improve mood, dietary intake of vitamin B6 may reduce the severity of hot flashes.
- Vitamin B12: Low vitamin B12 levels can reduce cognitive function in individuals, including those experiencing menopause.However, experts do not recommend additional supplementation of vitamin B12 to improve brain function. Luckily, most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 in their diets.
- Folic Acid: Folic acid in 1 milligram doses, may improve hot flashes during menopause and reduce their intensity, how long they last, and how frequently symptoms occur.
- Vitamin B2: Those who don’t get enough vitamin B2 during menopause might face greater risk of bone fractures. Making sure one has adequate levels of vitamin B2 and some other B vitamins may promote healthy bones.
Magnesium plays a role in more than 300 bodily functions, such as regulating the heartbeat, maintaining bone health, and regulating blood sugar levels. In addition, there is a role for magnesium in sleep health, and research suggests that adequate magnesium intake may help improve sleep quality.
Besides improving sleep, magnesium may also play a few special roles in menopause, such as keeping bones healthy. Adequate magnesium intake may also reduce some of the symptoms associated with worsened sleep quality in menopause, such as mood changes and depression.
Other Supplements for Menopause
Claims that supplements can help with symptoms of menopause should be considered carefully. Like melatonin and vitamins, dietary supplements do not undergo the same type of regulation and oversight that drugs do in the U.S. Some supplements can interfere with medications or are inappropriate for people with certain health conditions.
It is always a good idea to consult with a health care provider before incorporating a supplement into your regular diet.
Black cohosh is a plant native to North America that has a long history of use as an herbal remedy. Today, people primarily use black cohosh to help with symptoms of menopause. It is believed that black cohosh helps alleviate hot flashes and night sweats, decreasing the frequency of nighttime awakenings.
Evidence of how effective black cohosh is for managing specific menopause symptoms is mixed. Some studies have shown that this supplement may help people with hot flashes over a short period of time, but other studies have not been able to replicate these results. Experts say more research is warranted to better understand the benefits of black cohosh.
Valerian is a perennial plant that was originally found in Asia, and Europe, but it is now also grown in North America. People have been using the roots of valerian plants as a mild sedative to treat sleep problems and relieve anxiety for centuries. Today, valerian is commonly found in the formulations of sleep aid supplements for insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Researchers have found that valerian is a not reliable treatment for insomnia. However, other studies have found that valerian may benefit people in menopause who are experiencing hot flashes. Some experts even recommend that valerian may be an appropriate alternative treatment for people who want to avoid hormone replacement therapy for hot flashes.
Tips to Help Menopause Sleep Problems
In addition to the menopause sleep aids and supplements, practicing sleep hygiene can help those undergoing menopause get the sleep they need.
- Stick to a Sleep Routine: Create a bedtime routine that helps you relax. Whether it’s yoga, reading, or taking a relaxing bath, try to keep it a regular routine. Also, try to keep the same bedtime and wake times every day.
- Set the Bedroom Up for Successful Sleep: Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and free from distractions like noise and light. Avoiding watching television and using your cell phone, tablet, or computer in the bedroom. These devices can cause sleep problems.
- Exercise:Try exercising regularly, at the same time each day. If exercising late in the day disrupts your sleep, avoid it at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Be Mindful of What and How You Eat: Try to avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine later in the day. Some foods, like chocolate, contain caffeine. Also, avoid large meals before bedtime.
- Avoid Late Naps: If you nap, do it early in the day to avoid sleep problems at night.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
Talk to a health care professional if sleep hygiene techniques are not helping or if you are considering supplements for sleep or insomnia. Sleep troubles during menopause may occur for many reasons, including other coexisting medical conditions. A health care professional can best determine the cause of your sleep difficulties and the most ideal treatment regimen.
Ask the Sleep Doctor
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