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There are many herbs that can help with menopause insomnia, in addition to other natural approaches.
I never experienced insomnia until I hit perimenopause – in fact, that and migraines were my first two symptoms of perimenopause. I was the kind of sleeper my ex-husband and son used to envy...they used to tell me I was asleep before my head hit the pillow, and I'd be out until morning.
Now, anything can happen. I might wake up several times (almost always once) to go to the bathroom, and a few more from hot flashes/night sweats. Sometimes I can go right back to sleep and sometimes not. Sometimes I go right to sleep at night and sometimes not.
Here are some things I've tried that have helped with menopause insomnia:
The first was progesterone cream. I started using it when I finally figured out I had started having menopausal symptoms. I started using it for migraines and mood swings and found out it had a wonderful effect on my insomnia as well. It relaxed my normally tense back and shoulder muscles and I woke up feeling refreshed. As my menopause progressed, it didn't work as well, and then I tried other things.
Avoid overeating: One of the reasons for my insomnia lately has been my body's new reaction to overeating and especially overeating carbohydrates. It gives me lots of indigestion, gas, bloating, and at night, if I really overdo it, acid reflux. UGH! I hate that feeling of waking up with the burning sensation in your throat, which then takes several minutes of coughing, drinking water, and clearing my throat to settle down again. This is a case where the reflux is so uncomfortable that it very often motivates me to avoid bad eating habits.
While we're on the subject of common sense practices, we might as well talk about getting exercise, and limiting your intake of caffeine, alcohol and any other substance that your digestive system has to work overtime on. I know, I know, it's not what you want to hear, but if you have to get up at 5:30am like I do and go to work, at some point you're going to have to face it: You just can't abuse yourself the way you're used to, if you want to maintain quality of life.
Nap if you can. This is one of the best solutions for not sleeping well at night, if you have the luxury of being able to do it. It's best to take a short nap (30 minutes or so), right after lunch or mid-afternoon. If you take one much later than that, it will interfere with your night-time sleep.
The following herbs can help with menopause insomnia, mostly by easing your stress response and helping you to relax in general, enabling you to sleep better at night.
Motherwort is a gentle herb that can help you sleep at night, help with hot flashes, and even lower blood pressure.
Hops is another gentle, calming herb. Try some tea or tincture before bedtime. It can also calm you down during the day, if you need that.
Passionflower is a good relaxant for the anabolic type of constitution (active, strong, muscular, with a tendency toward high blood pressure). The leaves prolong the REM phase of sleep. Use the tincture of fresh leaves and flowers, ½ – 1 tsp.
Valerian is another good herb for sleep.
I have used a couple of different formulas containing hops, passionflower, and valerian, which are very effective for helping with insomnia.
I find them to be a little heavy for me, but others find, especially valerian, to be just right (I suspect hops and motherwort wouldn't do much for them in for them in this area).
If you can find the homeopathic liquid formula, there is no heaviness to that and it still works extremely well.
I recently found some valerian growing near Echo Lake, at right.
Valerian is great remedy for
Both calcium and/or magnesium supplements can help with insomnia as well as relax the muscles. Most Americans fall far short of ingesting even the minimum requirements of these nutrients.
Make sure to have an environment conducive to sleep as well – free from light, noise and anything else that may distract you.
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