How Sleep Keeps Hormones in Sync

Katie Taibl, RN
Katie Taibl, RN
10 minute read
February 23, 2023
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Women may experience sleep disturbances before menopause, in the perimenopause phase. During menopause, insomnia is common. However, creating the perfect bedtime routine to cope with sleep disturbances is possible. Understand hormone regulation and the sleep-wake cycle to become empowered to get better sleep, even during hormonal changes.

Sleep Affects Hormone Balance

Sleep affects several crucial hormones. Homeostasis of hormones depends on good sleep. Hormones that impact sleep include melatonin, which regulates your circadian rhythm; sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone); insulin; and cortisol.

Progesterone & Estrogen

Progesterone is a sex hormone that has an anti-anxiety effect and is sedating for sleep—both estrogen and progesterone regulate sleep quality. So when sex hormones decline during menopause, sleep health takes a hit. Getting quality rest can recalibrate these hormones.

The Melatonin & Cortisol Connection

From the pineal gland, melatonin regulates your circadian rhythm to make you sleepy. Melatonin works in tandem with cortisol to make you tired versus aroused. More stress leads to increased levels of cortisol, which will keep you up at night. Elevated cortisol levels can slow your thyroid, thus leading to a sluggish and imbalanced metabolism. 

Your Metabolism: Insulin, Glucose, & Cortisol

Sleep deprivation raises your glucose levels, contributing to decreased insulin sensitivity. Neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism rely on sleep to regulate. One study showed sleep prevented obesity, especially in children. That's how much sleep impacts your metabolism!

How Does Menopause Affect Sleep?

Are you struggling with sweat during menopause? You're not alone. Body temperature changes and hot flashes affect up to 85% of women during menopause.

Additionally, 40% of women in their 40s-50s report sleep disturbances. The average onset of menopause is 52 years old. The pre-menopause stage, known as perimenopause, lasts 7-10 years, meaning many women can experience hormone-related sleep disruptions as early as 40.

Sleep disorders related to menopause include insomnia and sleep apnea. Insomnia is difficulty falling or staying asleep that lasts more than three nights per week. The decline of progesterone in menopause puts women at risk for sleep apnea. That's because progesterone assists with stimulating respiratory function.

Natural Remedies for Sleeping Better During Menopausal Transition

Create a cozy bedtime routine to help you maintain a regular sleep schedule. Avoid anything that might trigger insomnia while transitioning to menopause, as these acute hormonal changes make hormonal balance sensitive.

 Follow these tips to drift off easily into slumber tonight.

  1. Shut off screens. Reduce blue light for at least one hour (preferably two hours) before bed. Turn your phone off or over, and page through a book instead.
  2. Keep your room cool enough. Even if it's freezing for your sleep partner, they can use an extra blanket. Ensure the room is at a comfortable temperature to prevent awakening from a hot flash.
  3. Exercise during the day. Daytime exercise ensures cortisol release occurs during waking hours. The timing of cortisol should be aligned with wakefulness so as not to interfere with sleep.
  4. Cut-off caffeine six hours before bed. According to the Sleep Foundation, six hours is a good range of thumb. But if you're still struggling to get shut-eye, increase the time between caffeine consumption and bedtime. Make it work for you.
  5. Stave-off stress. You can do this by saying no to a non-essential obligation. Breathing exercises are another tool for stress reduction. Try 4-7-8 breathing, where you inhale for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and release through your mouth for eight seconds.
  6. Master your mental health. Connecting with a counselor or therapist about mood changes like anxiety is often helpful for better sleep. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions contribute to poor sleep patterns.

An Alternative Sleep Method

If you've tried all of the above but are still not finding relief, think outside the box with mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy. A study showed that mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy improved sleep and cognitive function. In the study, stroke patients experienced improved sleep for up to three months after mild hyperbaric oxygen treatment. It also improves mitochondrial function and reduces oxidative stress. In addition, mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves cerebral blood flow and brain metabolism, the perfect realignment for hormone regulation.

Finding a solution to troubled sleep is achievable for a better quality of life. Book a mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy session at Restore to see relaxation revived.

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