When most women think about menopause symptoms and side effects, they usually think of things like hot flashes and changes in their energy levels — but did you know menopause can cause sleep problems, too? New research has revealed that as levels of the brain-calming hormone progesterone decline with menopause, so does the quality of our shut-eye. Luckily, there are ways to help. Here are three tips on how get the sleep you need tonight.
Stretch Before Bed
“Progesterone is the body’s natural Valium, which is why lowered levels of the hormone trigger restless sleep,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., co-author of Real Cause, Real Cure. A simple solution: the gentle stretches and deep breathing of yoga, which help 59% of folks sleep more soundly, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Dr. Teitelbaum explains, “Yoga moves signal the body to stop pumping out the adrenaline that helped you through the day, so the body can prepare for sleep.”
Try Nature’s Sleep Aid
Botanicals sourced from the magnolia tree are surprisingly potent. Research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that honokiol, an active compound in magnolia bark, worked as well as the prescription insomnia drug diazepam—without side effects. “Magnolia bark can help with all kinds of menopausal symptoms, including sleeplessness, by activating the body’s cannabinoid receptors. This relaxes the nervous system and calms our body and mind,” explains herbalist Mona Dan, LAc., founder of Vie Healing wellness center in Beverly Hills. Note: Check with your doctor before supplementing.
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Sip Passionflower Tea
Native Americans have long treated insomnia with passionflower, and now a 12-week German study confirms that the dried herb improves nighttime restlessness in nearly 93% of subjects. The reason? The active ingredients in passionflower flood the body with brain-calming neurotransmitters, which encourages sounder sleep. To get the benefits, sip 8 oz. of passionflower tea an hour before bed.
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This story originally appeared in our print magazine.