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Could Your Experience of Insomnia Be Hormone Related?

Feb 21, 2024
hormonal woman cant sleep

A subject that (in my opinion) is not spoken about enough in the sleep space is the importance of female hormone balance in establishing and maintaining healthy sleep.

A few of you may remember I posted a video a few months ago talking about my own personal experience with progesterone supplementation (bio identical HRT) and what a difference it was making to my sleep, particularly in the second half of my menstrual cycle.

I am happy to report that (a few months in) my sleep continues to be better than ever (particularly during the 2nd half of my cycle.) Why would this be?

Progesterone is Important For Healthy Sleep

 

Progesterone is a natural sedative and helps regulate the sleep wake cycles by affecting the activity of the neurotransmitters that are involved in sleep. These neurotransmitters include GABA, which is known to have calming effects.

Some studies suggest that taking progesterone supplements may improve sleep quality, especially in women who experience sleep disturbances due to hormonal changes, such as menopause and menstrual cycles.

During the luteal phase, progesterone levels rise while estrogen levels fluctuate. These hormonal changes can affect neurotransmitters involved in sleep regulation, such as serotonin and GABA, leading to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep.

Changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can disrupt the body's internal clock, leading to alterations in the timing of sleep and wakefulness.

In simple terms, if your hormone levels are dysregulated then this can cause significant sleep disturbance.

The Difference Between Disturbed Sleep and Insomnia

 

It’s important to note that the disturbed sleep experienced from dysregulated hormones is not true insomnia.

The difference is that true insomnia is defined as consistently experiencing disturbed sleep on a regular basis for a minimum of 3 months. Insomnia usually presents with a significant amount of hyper arousal and sleep related stress.

Disturbed sleep from hormone dysregulation is characterized by its cyclic nature. For example, say you notice significantly more trouble sleeping in the week or so before your period and then after your period arrives you sleep great for a week or so. Anything that follows a monthly pattern is likely hormone related.

It is not unusual for my clients to experience insomnia (consistently having trouble falling or staying asleep with significant amounts of stress and anxiety) which becomes worse at specific times of the month.

It is Possible to Have Hormonal Imbalances and Insomnia at the Same Time

 

This is not an either-or situation, so it is perfectly natural for insomnia AND hormone mediated sleep disturbances to walk hand in hand, especially since stress is one of the main reasons hormones become deregulated in the first place.

In cases like this it can be helpful to see a trained sleep coach to help modify sleep behavior AND have your hormone levels tested by your primary care provider.

Although hormone related sleep disturbances can happen any time after puberty, they are more likely to occur (or worsen) after women reach perimenopause and it’s important to know that perimenopause starts much earlier than you may think (or hope!)

Treatments for Menopause

 

The average woman enters menopause between 45 and 55 and perimenopause symptoms can start as soon as our early 30s.

Although I have made the decision to go on bioidentical hormones (HRT) this may not be the right solution for everyone.

Luckily there are many options out there such as acupuncture and herbal remedies.

Stress management is very important for hormone balancing and (with this in mind) some form of meditation or breathwork may be helpful.

It’s also important to eat a balanced diet and include plenty of Vitamin C, B6, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin E, Vitamin D and Selenium as all these nutrients are needed by the body to manufacture progesterone.

It should also be noted that sub optimal ratios of both progesterone and/ or estrogen can lead to sleep disturbances.

Hormones are complicated so if you are suffering and believe it is hormone related, please consult an expert! You will likely save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.

Interested in Learning More?

 

If you would like to learn more or book an individual session, please visit the Work With Me page or enroll in the 30 Day Beyond Sleep Course

In the meantime, I would like to leave you with this important message. You are not broken! You are whole, perfect, and healthy exactly as you are, and you CAN sleep!

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