Getting some good sleep in perimenopause can be near impossible. Not only do night sweats and anxiety threaten to wake you at any hour, but your ability to sleep well can be compromised by hormonal imbalance. Women in perimenopause often suffer from fatigue, brain fog, depression, difficulty concentrating, and have mood instability. All of these symptoms are further aggravated when we do not get enough quality sleep. Indeed, it can become a vicious cycle. Many women turn to over the counter sleep aids to improve their sleep and their overall quality of life. Let’s talk about the best over the counter sleep aids.
First things first: Why can’t I sleep?
If you’ve hit perimenopause, it’s likely that you are having trouble sleeping. Of course, there are many factors that can make a good night’s rest unattainable. Between stress, anxiety, overstimulation from screens, poor sleep hygiene, and physical discomforts, good quality sleep can be hard to come by.
But perimenopause can cause some physiological changes that can make sleeping that much harder. When estrogen levels are unbalanced, it can interfere with your ability to sleep. However, some research has also found that melatonin levels decline when women enter menopause as well. With declining melatonin levels and erratic changes in your estrogen and progesterone levels, it’s no wonder women in menopause are fatigued.
Best over the counter sleep aid
Fortunately, women looking for a natural menopause sleep aid have a few options. Perhaps the best over the counter sleep aid is melatonin, which is a hormone that occurs naturally in our body. Melatonin follows a cyclical pattern where it rises in the evening and falls by morning. Many people take melatonin when their sleep is disrupted from either jet lag, or working a night shift that requires them to sleep during the daytime.
Studies have further linked melatonin and menopause symptom relief. One study found that women who took melatonin reported an improvement in depression, anxiety, libido, and hot flashes compared to women in the placebo group.
There are melatonin menopause supplements on the market. However, the efficacy and safety of these supplements have not been proven. If you are considering trying melatonin for insomnia relief in perimenopause, it may be helpful to try a melatonin-only supplement so that you can determine whether or not this single ingredient works well with your body.
While melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone in our body, not all women find that melatonin improves their sleep. When you are trying a melatonin supplement, it is important to consult your doctor and, if you get the go-ahead, it may take a couple of weeks for you to see the benefit.
Consider trying these other natural sleep aids
If you are looking for a natural sleep aid aside from melatonin, consider lavender, magnesium, and valerian root. These options should not be considered runner-ups as they are wonderful sleep agents as well.
Lavender is a tried and true natural sleep aid that has calming and stress-relieving effects. Many studies have confirmed that inhaled lavender can improve sleep quality. Some people also drink tea infused with lavender prior to bed.
Magnesium has become a popular supplement because it has demonstrated numerous health benefits, including improved sleep. One of the many roles magnesium plays in the body is to regulate the circadian rhythm, which is in charge of your sleep cycle. When people are low in magnesium, they are also more prone to illness and depression, which can impact your sleep quality. Magnesium can be easily acquired through your diet or you can also take a magnesium supplement.
Valerian root has been used to treat anxiety, sleep issues, and to help with relaxation. One study even found valerian root helped relieve hot flashes in menopausal women. Valerian root can be taken in as a supplement or as an extract. Some people also steep valerian root in hot water and drink it as a tea before bedtime.
Along with trying an over the counter sleep aid, there is tremendous benefit in improving your sleep hygiene as well. Consider these tips before hitting the pillow tonight:
Eat a light dinner
Avoid snacking before bed, especially late-night sweets
Layer your clothes and bedding so you can shed layers during hot flashes
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Keep a glass of water next to the bed
Go to bed at the same time every night
Keep a notepad next to you to jot down any thoughts that you are worried you will forget
Establish a bedtime routine like taking a relaxing bath, meditating, reading, or doing yoga or massage.
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Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.
Meet the Author
Perry Babe Julia ( RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations.
Much of her education and clinical experience are related to educating women on women’s health topics ranging from lifestyle improvements, disease management, and general health education.
Find Julia's Perry community profile right here.