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Insomnia at Menopause
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep or awakening from sleep prematurely. It is a frequent symptom of menopause. The symptoms of Insomnia are: irritability, depression, emotional disturbances, poor memory.
The human body has an internal 24-hour time-keeping system that determines when we fall asleep and when we wake up. This is called circadian rhythm. The hormone that maintain the circadian rhythm is called melatonin, and it is secreted by a gland located in the center of the brain, the pineal gland.
The production of melatonin is stimulated by darkness and reduced by light, hence the name "hormone of darkness". It peaks in the middle of the night, and gradually falls during the second half of the night. Too little light during the day, or too much light in the night disrupt the body's normal melatonin cycles.
Melatonin promotes and sustains sleep.
It stimulates cells that promote bone growth.
Melatonin levels diminish as we age (this explains why older people go to bed and wake up earlier than when they were younger!). Since melatonin levels are lower in postmenopausal women, current studies are investigating whether decreased melatonin levels contribute to the development of osteoporosis, and whether treatment with melatonin can help prevent this condition.
Melatonin helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps determine when menstruation begins, and when menstruation ends (menopause). A recent study showed that postmenopausal women, as well as people who suffer from major depression or anxiety have low levels of melatonin.
Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects, so it may help strengthen the immune system.
Take vitamins and minerals - Calcium deficiency is a common factor in Insomnia. Calcium and Magnesium produce calming effect on the brain. They are essential supplements for normal sleep, so taken before bed time have a sedative effect. The lack of Potassium in our body cause leg cramps, especially during the night, leading to frequently waking up and difficulty going back to sleep.
Watch your diet - Avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, alcohol, tobacco. Avoid sugar, food additives and don't over eat before bedtime.
Watch your sleeping habits - Find out what time sleep comes naturally and follow your body needs. Keep a regular sleep schedule to establish a good sleep habit. Having a nap during the day can beneficially supplement night time sleep. Studies suggest that early afternoon is an appropriate time within the circadian rhythm for a short nap.
Try to eliminate stress by maintaining a relaxed and positive attitude toward life and your daily tasks.
Exercise - A physically tired body is ready for a good sleep. Exercise at least 2 hours before bedtime.