Cause of insomnia

Women naturally need about 8 hours sleep. Menopausal women wake up more frequently and have more difficulty falling asleep once wakened. The main direct cause of insomnia are hot flashes but other indirect causes are increased stress and mood swings. If hot flashes or night sweats wake you up during the night you will feel tired during the day.

Treating Insomnia

Insomnia is traditionally treated with a combination of good habits and nutritional therapy, including the consumption soy products rich in isoflavones.

  • Isoflavones – Isoflavones will not induce sleep but may reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes, resulting in better sleep. A recent Brazilian study with postmenopausal women found that isoflavones treatment could effectively reduce insomnia and increased sleep efficiency. The scientists found that isoflavones decreased the intensity and number of hot flashes and the frequency of insomnia.
  • Good sleeping habbits – When you are tired during the day you might consider taking a nap. However, this nap will disturb your biological clock making it even more difficult to sleep during the night. It is important to set a sleep and wake-up time. You should not over-compensate: sleeping more than 8 or 9 hours will not benefit you. Instead you will have more hours in bed to toss about problems. Your bedroom should only be used for sleeping, nor for watching TV or working.
  • Relaxation techniques – You should practice a relaxation technique to relax each part of your body or use a visualisation technique to relax your mind. You can buy a CD with relaxation music or spoken relaxation suggestions. Taking a hot bath or shower will first stimulate you body but afterwards you will feel more relaxed and fall asleep easier. Optionally you can add essential oils to your bath water, such as bergamot, lavender or camomile.
  • Herbal therapies – There are many well known herbs which help you to fall asleep or to let you sleep deeper. The best known are valerian, hops, passionflower and camomile. A tincture from valerian can be taken one hour before bed and will work immediately. Passion flower contains alkaloids which have a direct effect on the nervous system.

Scientific references

Isoflavones decrease insomnia in postmenopause. Menopause. 2010 Aug 19.