Can Melatonin Help During Menopause?
Many women dealing with menopausal symptoms experience disruptions in their sleep cycles. This can exacerbate some of the other side effects such as increased anxiety, depression, trouble focusing, memory lapses, hot flashes and a decreased libido, just to name a few. The good news is that increasing shows that melatonin supplements can be an effective menopause treatment to help you get more rest and relief.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone our bodies produce naturally in the pineal gland of the brain. It assists in the smooth operation of several bodily functions such as:
1. Regulating the release of the female reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, effecting the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles
2. Promoting the quality and duration of sleep
3. It is a naturally produced antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties to help the body repair itself. It has a protective effect on your heart by helping to lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol levels
4. Low levels of melatonin have been linked to an increased risk for developing breast and prostate cancer, and have more recently linked to ADHD symptoms in children.
At optimum levels, melatonin can help improve conditions like:
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Pain regulation
Melatonin as a Menopause Treatment
Trouble focusing, memory lapses, increased anxiety and feelings of depression, all common symptoms of menopause, are made worse by a lack of quality sleep. Many women going through menopause have trouble falling asleep, and even after they do, they often wake up because of a hot flash. They may fall asleep, but rouse frequently during the night and have trouble going back to sleep.
As we age our production of the sleep hormone begins to decline, along with estrogen and progesterone. Children have high levels of melatonin, whereas adults in their late 40s, 50s and 60s and beyond have much lower levels. Melatonin supplements can increase levels to promote drowsiness and keep you asleep for longer stretches. It can also help you fall back to sleep when a hot flash wakes you up. In addition, the increased shut-eye can help you deal with stress more effectively, decrease anxiety and give you greater mental clarity.
Along with melatonin supplements try these tips to help you unwind and fall asleep more easily:
- Do not eat within two hours of going to bed
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants as much as possible
- Try natural fiver sheets and pajamas to help whisk away sweat from hot flashes
- Drop the temperature in your bedroom to about 68 degrees
- Turn off the TV, put away your tablet and smart phone since the backlight on these electronic devices interferes with the natural release of melatonin
- Make it as dark as possible in your bedroom with light-blocking blinds or curtains and turn the digital clock face away from the bed or cover it
- Try a few relaxing yoga poses followed by a cool shower
As with all supplements, you should first consult your doctor before deciding on your melatonin treatment. Taking the lowest dose possible to achieve optimal sleep is the best way to go. In general adults should take 3-5 milligrams about one hour before bedtime.