Menopause sleep problems- the cure

The years leading up to and after menopause could be treacherous for many women, but it doesn't have to be! 

Many doctors have no idea how perimenopause and menopause issues relate to hormonal disorders, or they don't take it seriously enough. They were taught to not test your hormones level because it was believed to be pointless (since hormones go up and down all days).

If you tell your doctor about fatigue, depression, mood problems, anxiety, but your blood test come back with everything normal, don't believe it is normal. Trust your feeling. 

You may have prescription of anti-depressant or thought about getting a prescription, but you can reverse endocrinal issues through simple changes of lifestyle and herbal supplements. 

Let me show you how insomnia become a problem for menopause or perimenopause. 

TOo much or little Cortisol

The most common issue with hormone is high cortisol or low cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. Usually people first develop high cortisol due to stress, and if they have prolonged problem with high cortisol, overtime they develop cortisol resistance, or adrenal fatigue, which leads to low cortisol or resistance to cortisol. Cortisol is the forth front hormone. It can disrupt functions of other hormones from the thyroid, ovaries, and adrenal glands. Both high or low cortisol is bad for you and your other endocrinal glands. 

When you have high cortisol in your blood, your cells become less receptive to other hormones such as insulin and triiodothyronine. It leads to fatigue because the blood glucose is not getting into the cells.  

Instead, chronic stress turns on the "fat switch" and activates the "fat storage" mode. The body accumulates fat quickly because of stress, and it especially likes to store fat in the mid-section. High cortisol also causes sugar craving and hunger, which leads to more eating. 

Fat cells also produce cortisol! So the fatter the fatter! An obese person is capable of producing more cortisol than a fit person. 

Once the cortisol remains high during the day, it leads to insomnia. Insomnia causes weight gain. The vicious cycle begins. 

To test your cortisol level, you need multiple tests during the day for a few days to get an accurate picture, which includes blood test, urine test, and salivary test. The trouble it takes is why a non-naturopathic doctor usually doesn't believe in testing for hormones level. 

In my article adrenal fatigue diet, I explained how to keep your cortisol level optimal. 

Other than diet, the best way to keep your cortisol level normal is to manage your stress- exercise, yoga, long walk, meditation, breathing and relaxation exercises.

If the ultimate root problem of your hormone issue stems from heavy metal poisoning, then you need to have heavy metal chelation treatment.

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Herbs that balance your hormones

Maca is adaptogenic, which means it normalizes hormones and bodily process. It contains less caffeine than coffee, but should jump start your day without insomnia if you take it before 11am. Unlike coffee, which is bad for those who suffers from adrenal fatigue, this actually helps your adrenal glands and other endocrinal glands. Many people leave positive reviews on Amazon about Maca. It is cheaper and better than Starbuck! 

Amazon reviews: "My PMS was horrible: extreme moodiness, tenderness in the chest area (ladies, you know), debilitating cramps, abnormal flow, and all that jazz. Now, I hardly notice ANY of the above-mentioned when that time of the month comes around."

" I usually had menstrual cycle issues like cramping, heavy bleeding, PMS and extremely long lasting (10 days.) Taking this has reduced everything and improved my libido, as well"

"I've been suffering from menopause symptoms for the past several years. Since my use I have noticed a major decrease in my hot flashes and mood swings."

Xiao Yao Wan is a pill made with Chinese herbs for PMS and menopause. This brand follows the rigorous tradition of Chinese medicine and is manufactured at an internationally certified GMP factory. (Good manufacturing Practices)

"I firmly believe in this product!! It was recommended to me by my acupuncturist to help with anxiety and also PMS symptoms. I feel much more calm and relaxed when I take these. I love them so much that my Mom & Best friend are now taking them too and loving them!"

"Recommended to me by my acupuncturist. Been taking it for about 2-3 years now and helps with some of my PMS symptoms."

"These are the best... recommended by my naturopath and have seriously helped my anxiety and pms!"

"My acupuncturist recommended these. They help me to feel calm and somehow balance out my hormones, thereby helping me to sleep."

Low Estrogen

Menopause is the most obvious reason for low estrogen production. Ovaries aging during perimenopause also causes estrogen production to slow down. 

Other causes of low estrogen are radiation or chemotherapy, stress, eating disorders, hysterectomy, extreme exercise, low body fat, and pituitary diseases. 

The symptoms of low estrogen are hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, vaginal dryness, low sex drive, and mood swings. 

How to treat low estrogen? On top of Xiao Yao Wan and Macca I mentioned above, here is a list of proven remedies for low estrogen: 

  • Paced breathing- 20 minutes twice per day. A repetition of 5 second inhale, a 10 second hold, and a 5 second exhale. It cuts flashes by 44%
  • Acupuncture- it has been shown that it reduces hot flashes and night sweats. 2000+ years record of safety!
  • Vitamin E- proven to reduce hot flashes
  • Rehubarb- reduce hot flashes 
  • Pomegranate- pomegranate seed oil at a dose of 30 mg twice per day reduces hot flashes
  • Orgasmic Meditation- reduce symptoms of low estrogen

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance can often be the real cause of menopause and perimenopause symptoms. 

Estrogen dominance could happen when a woman has excessive estrogen, or runs of out progesterone to balance her estrogen.

If progesterone runs low, it is often because of stress. Excessive cortisol makes progesterone less effective because cortisol blocks out other hormones. Moreover, when our body is busy producing cortisol, it competes with the production of progesterone. 

Xenoestrogens could also contribute to estrogen dominance. Xenoestrogens are synthetic substances that act like estrogens. It can be found in furniture, cosmetic products, pesticide, plastics, pillow, mattress, cleaning supplies, and basically everywhere! A lot of xenoestrogens are dumped into the sea and affecting sea life. We could find sexually ambiguous turtle and gender switching fish, because of xenoestrogen pollution! 

The list of symptoms of estrogen dominance is long, which includes PMS, insomnia, thyroid dysfunction, weight gain, low sex drive, cold limbs, mood disorders, irregular menstrual periods, headaches, bloating, endometriosis, infertility, breast cancer, and fibrocystic breast. 

If you have three or more symptoms of estrogen dominance, you may test for estrogen and progesterone level. 

How to avoid estrogen dominance? Avoid conventional meat and diary because they might contains growth hormones and antibiotic. Try clean raw milk and organic meat instead.

Lose weight, because fat produces estrogen, so the more fat a person has (including men), the more estrogen. 

Avoid gluten, alcohol, and refined carbohydrate. In fact, be very careful with grains. I would recommend the Paleo diet, or the Weston A. Price diet, which I follow. 

Eat a lot of vegetables! Fibers help the body flushes out excess estrogen.

Supplements for excess estrogen:

  • Seaweed (significantly lowers estrogen level)
  • Turmeric
  • Rseveratrol (from food sources such as grapes and blueberries. Avoid wine)
  • Di-indolemethane (DIM) 
  • Sleep at 10 pm and wake up early (melatonin reduces chance of breast cancer)

Di-indolemethane (DIM)

DIM reduces bad estrogens and protects the good ones. It is a natural substance found in cruciferous vegetables. It helps with weight loss caused by excess estrogen and increases libido.

"The internet said that this product was helpful in the reduction of estrogen levels. Being a woman going through menopause with crazy hot flashes and insane mood swings concurrent with chronic depression, well, if there was anything that might help I was willing to try it. Happily, the hype was not hype. This product leaves me with a better sense of self and the hot flashes, while still present, have diminished."

"I would recommend this product highly especially if you are in your 40's suffering from night sweats, mood swings, and weight gain. It has worked wonders for me."

Low progesterone 

Stress and nutrient deficiency could lower progesterone production.

The symptoms of low progesterone are PMS, irregular menstrual or heavy bleeding, menopause and peri-menopause issues, breast disorder, endometriosis, pyroluria, polycystic ovary syndrome, depression, headaches, mood disorder, weight gain, infertility, miscarriage, and hot flushes.

What if you are diagnosed with low progesterone? 

Here is a list of remedies:

  • Vitamin C
  • Chasteberry supplement
  • Bladderwrack
  • Saffron
  • Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6
  • St. John's wort

Chasteberry is much safer than synthetic hormones. Even bioidentical hormone such as progesterone cream can sometimes prevent ovulation. If your menopause is still some years away, try this herb instead of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. 

"I started taking the birth control pill when I was 14 years old. At 29, I decided I should get off of it and experience my body in it's natural state.

...I've been taking a lot of different herbs and supplements for months now, but just started Vitex 19 days ago. This morning, I got my period! For the first time in a year! I am so happy and relieved"

"I lost my cycle for 1 year and 2 months. I had major trauma that required surrgery and my cycle was gone. I thought I was going through menopause ( age 40 ) but everyone said I was too young so I went to my gyno and she ordered some lab work; I wasn't going through menopause. I mentioned vitex berry to her and she said I could take it. Low and behold, after 1 month I got my menses back and my cycle lasted for 6 days! I was so happy I lost my cycle for 1 year and 2 months. I had major trauma that required surrgery and my cycle was gone. I thought I was going through menopause ( age 40 ) but everyone said I was too young so I went to my gyno and she ordered some lab work; I wasn't going through menopause. I mentioned vitex berry to her and she said I could take it. Low and behold, after 1 month I got my menses back and my cycle lasted for 6 days! I was so happy "

Don't forget these are not the only causes of hormone problems. Heavy metal poisoning and thyroid problem can also mimic menopause and perimenopause issues. 

The herbs I mentioned above will certainly work if they match with the correct hormone issue, but it won't help if you use, for example, Chasteberry for high estrogen and normal progesterone. 

Herbs are much cheaper and safer comparing with prescription drugs. You could try one at a time to see what works. It worths the effort because herbs actually targets the root cause of the problem, while conventional medication only mask the symptoms. 

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