Can’t sleep? It could be your hormones.
Hormonal sleep problems are common during PMS, perimenopause, and menopause and are caused by a drop in progesterone, a histamine or mast cell reaction, or (in the case of menopause) a drop in estrogen.
Hormonal sleep problems
PMS and PMDD
Premenstrual sleep problems are caused by one or more of the following:
- the steep drop in progesterone at the end of the cycle,
- hypersensitivity to the ups and downs of progesterone or
- a premenstrual histamine or mast cell reaction.
The solution is to support GABA with magnesium and vitamin B6 and take steps to reduce histamine. Read The Role of Histamine and Mast Cells in PMS and PMDD.
👉 Tip: Progesterone is good for sleep because it converts to a sedating neurosteroid called allopregnanolone or ALLO which soothes the GABA receptors in the brain. When progesterone is high (just after ovulation), sleep is deeper with more “sleep spindles” (brain waves that indicate the onset of deep sleep). When progesterone is low or non-existent (such as on hormonal birth control), sleep is shallower and less restorative with fewer sleep spindles.
Perimenopausal sleep problems are caused by the great progesterone crash that happens in our forties. We lose progesterone years before we lose estrogen and that results in a recalibration of the brain and stress response (adrenal) system. Perimenopause can also be a time of mast cell activation or high histamine, which further worsens sleep.
The solution is to reduce alcohol (to lower histamine) and to take magnesium and progesterone (Prometrium) capsules (to stabilize the nervous system). Read Rescue Prescription for Perimenopause.
Menopausal sleep problems are caused by the lack of both progesterone and estrogen. Estrogen deficiency causes sleep maintenance insomnia, which means waking at 2 or 3 am and is the single most distressing symptom of menopause.
The solution is to reduce or quit alcohol and to take magnesium, progesterone capsules, and possibly a transdermal estradiol patch like Estradot.
Menopausal insomnia usually occurs during the first twelve months after periods stop. After that, sleep tends to go back to normal.
👉 Tip: Hormonal sleep problems are also helped by the usual sleep-enhancing techniques of exercise, morning light, and sleeping in a dark room.