Perimenopause is a phase in a woman’s life that marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
It’s the time before menopause when our periods stop and our body is no longer capable of reproducing and typically occurs between the ages of 38 and 45.
One of the main features is a drop or fluctuations in the hormone oestrogen.
This disruption can trigger some of the unwanted symptoms of perimenopause such as hot flashes, mood swings, sleep problems and insomnia.
Insomnia can be one of the most challenging issues related to perimenopause, and some women are wary of treating it with traditional medication because of its side effects.
That’s why in this article, we’re going to focus on sleep disruption related to perimenopause and look at nine natural remedies scientifically proven to aid sleep and which present few – if any – side effects.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Let’s start with the basics: why is sleep so important? Sleep, good quality sleep to be precise, is vital to the proper functioning of the human body.
Poor Sleep Leads to Weight Gain
Studies have shown that people who get less sleep are more likely to gain weight.
One review of studies carried out across the world found that both children and adults who did not sleep for long periods were 89% and 55% respectively more likely to become obese (1).
It’s also known that a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep leads to increased hunger and sugar cravings, as evidenced in this study (2) that examined the behaviour of people who were short sleepers.
It found that if they slept for longer, they were less likely to crave sugar.
Sleep Is Vital for Mental Performance
This has been borne out in many studies, including one that looked at errors made by medical interns working shifts of 24 hours or more (3) compared to those working on schedules that allowed more time for sleep.
It found that the interns on the 24 hour+ schedules made 36% more serious medical errors.
Sleep Keeps Our Immune System Healthy
When you lack sleep, it also means that your immune system won’t be working properly.
A study involving 153 healthy men and women (4) looked at what happened when they were given nasal drops with the cold virus.
It concluded that people who got less than seven hours’ sleep a night were nearly three times more likely to get a cold than people who had eight hours sleep or more.
These are just a few reasons why sleep is so important, especially if you are going through the challenges of perimenopause and need to be fit and ready to take on each new day as it comes.
One study that sums up the impact of lack of sleep on women is this one (5) that looked at a range of events and factors affecting how women sleep.
These include episodes in a woman’s life where her hormones are disrupted, such as pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause.
It concludes that sleep disorders are common across a woman’s lifespan, with the result that women’s quality of life is adversely impacted.
How Sleep Deprivation Is a Vicious Cycle
The problem with sleep deprivation is that it becomes a vicious cycle. If we're lying awake in the night, you’re likely to start worrying that you can’t sleep. All kinds of thoughts go racing through your head.
How will I cope with work tomorrow?
What if I end up sleeping through my alarm?
I simply won’t be able to manage everything I have to do in the morning!
This situation triggers stress hormones, including cortisol, which then have the effect of causing us to become more alert and even less likely to fall asleep.
And so the vicious circle continues night after night.
How Sleep Is Affected by Perimenopause
We know that perimenopause has a marked effect on sleep. Hormonal changes are one of the reasons why many women undergoing perimenopause suffer from sleep disruption.
Oestrogen helps you fall asleep more quickly and wake up fewer times during the night, increases your overall sleep time and also keeps your body temperature at a comfortable level while you’re asleep.
Because your level of oestrogen falls during perimenopause, all these effects beneficial to your sleep cycle are disrupted, leading to issues with sleep as set out in this study on sleep disorders and menopause (6).
That’s why it’s so important to balance your hormones naturally to offset insomnia and other unpleasant symptoms associated with perimenopause.
More About Natural Remedies
So if we're going through perimenopause and are affected by sleep issues, we'll be interested to know about natural remedies with few side effects that actually work so you can wake up refreshed from a good night’s sleep.
Let’s take a look at nine of the best to help reset your sleep cycle and enable you to get the revitalising sleep we deserve.
1. Valerian Root Extract
Valerian root has been used as a natural remedy for insomnia since ancient times. It contains a substance called valerenic acid, which affects the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain that control anxiety.
In a study of 100 women around perimenopausal age (50 to 60 years) (7), the group who took valerian root as opposed to the placebo experienced far fewer symptoms of sleep disorder.
Valerian root is also known to work well in combination with another established natural remedy for sleep, hops. One study (8) found that a combination of valerian and hops reduced the time it took for subjects to get to sleep.
2. Hops Flower Extract
Hops flower extract is a tried-and-tested remedy for insomnia and is especially valuable for women of perimenopausal or menopausal age.
A paper published in the Journal of Menopausal Medicine (9) looked at several studies involving hops and their effect on sleep. It explained that studies have shown that hops extract binds to oestrogen receptors to alleviate symptoms associated with menopause and perimenopause such as hot flashes and insomnia.
3. Turmeric Extract (95% Curcuminoids)
Curcumin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric, a bright yellow spice native to India where it has been used for thousands of years in cooking and natural medicine.
Curcumin has many properties that are beneficial to health, acting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to help protect the body from disease.
While you can add turmeric to your diet, the spice only contains a small amount of curcumin. That’s why supplements offer 95% curcuminoids to deliver the most benefit.
While there is still research to be done on human subjects, a study using rats (10) suggested that curcumin can restore some of the cognitive damage that may occur as a consequence of sleep deprivation.
4. Jujube Extract
The jujube tree grows in Southeast Asia and the fruit is also known as Chinese date. As well as being packed full of health-protecting antioxidants, it has been used traditionally as an antidote to insomnia.
Jujube seeds were found to increase sleeping time in a study carried out on rats (11). So not only could taking jujube extract help to improve the duration of sleep but offer a whole host of other health benefits, including providing antioxidant benefits.
5. Passionflower Extract
As well as being beautiful, passionflowers are known as a traditional remedy for anxiety and insomnia.
Participants in a study (12) who drank herbal tea containing passionflower every day for seven days found that their sleep significantly improved. The study concluded that this regime would work well for mild sleep disruption.
6. Magnolia Bark Extract
Magnolia bark is a type of magnolia tree found in China, and remedies derived from it have been used in that part of the world for many years.
It’s believed to be especially beneficial to women of perimenopausal or menopausal age as it can help with various associated symptoms. In a study involving 89 women going through menopause (13), a combination of magnolia bark and magnesium supplements were found to improve both their insomnia and mood.
7. Rare Zinc Glycinate
Zinc, one of the most plentiful minerals found in the human body, comes in a variety of different forms, including zinc glycinate, and is associated with many different roles in keeping the body working well. It is also known as an effective tool against insomnia.
There are lots of studies testifying to the power of zinc. One of these (14) looked at a supplement containing zinc aimed at women of menopausal age suffering from symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia. It found that it worked well to counteract these symptoms and, as a natural remedy, it didn’t come with any side effects.
8. Magnesium Citrate
Like zinc, magnesium is a mineral that comes in various forms and is essential to keep many of your body’s systems functioning well. Magnesium citrate is considered a great choice as it’s absorbed rapidly by the bloodstream so you can benefit from it quickly.
Research (15) has found that using a magnesium supplement can aid longer and better sleep and enhance the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep.
9. Glycine (From Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides)
Collagen is a protein that forms the basic building block of many components of your body: blood vessels, skin, bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles.
Bovine collagen comes from cows and is known for its high levels of glycine, an amino acid that stimulates the production of serotonin.
Serotonin is a hormone that serves various functions, including improving sleep quality.
Research (16) suggests that glycine promotes better sleep in people with insomnia, making it an effective bedtime supplement.
A Natural Solution to Sleep Disruption
Changes to hormone levels during perimenopause can disturb many areas of a woman’s life. This includes sleep quality, with many perimenopausal women reporting difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep.
This can become a vicious circle, causing an ongoing problem for women who may be facing many other challenges in their life and juggling the responsibilities of work and family life.
If some women are reluctant to take traditional medication for fear of unpleasant side effects, they may feel at a loss to know what to do.
But knowing that there is a selection of effective, scientifically proven natural remedies to help with sleep disruption is welcome news.
They come with very few side effects and those reported tend to be mild. They are also more likely to be gentle on the digestive system, which can be sensitive during perimenopause...
Editors note: Take our scientific 3 min free Perimenopause and Menopause Sleep quiz. You'll get personalised information about your sleep problems, pinpoint the exact root cause ad get scientifically proven solutions to end it for good:
1. Cappuccio F, Taggart F, Kandala N, Currie A, Peile E, FRCP, Stranges S, Miller M. ‘Meta-Analysis of Short Sleep Duration and Obesity in Children and Adults,’ Sleep. 2008 May 1; 31(5): 619–626. Doi: 10.1093/sleep/31.5.619.
2. Khatib H, Hall, W, Creedon A, Ooi E, Masri T, McGowan L, Harding S, Darzi J, Pot G. ‘Sleep extension is a feasible lifestyle intervention in a free-living adults who are habitually short sleepers: a potential strategy for decreasing intake of free sugars? A randomized controlled pilot study,’ The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 107, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 43–53, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqx030.
3. Landrigan C, Rothschild J, Cronin J, Kaushal R, Burdick E, Katz J, Lilly C, Stone P, Lockley S, Bates D, Czeisler C. ‘Effect of reducing interns’ work hours on serious medical errors in intensive care units,’ The New England Journal of Medicine. 2004 Oct 28;351(18):1838-48. Doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa041406.
4. Cohen S, Doyle W, Alper C, Janicki-Deverts D, Turner R. ‘Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold,’ Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009 Jan 12;169(1):62-7. Doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2008.505.
5. Nowakowski S, Meers J, Heimbach E. ‘Sleep and Women’s Health,’ Sleep Medicine Research, 2013;4:1–22. doi: 10.17241/smr.2013.4.1.1.
6. Lee J, Han Y, Hee Cho H, Kim M. ‘Sleep Disorders and Menopause,’ Journal of Menopausal Medicine, 2019 Aug; 25(2): 83–87. Doi: 10.6118/jmm.19192.
7. Taavoni S, Ekbatani N, Haghani H. ‘Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause,’ Complementary Therapies In Clinical Practice, 2013 Nov;19(4):193-6. Doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2013.07.002. Epub 2013 Sep 10.
8. Koetter U, Schrader E, Käufeler R, Brattström A. ‘A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, prospective clinical study to demonstrate clinical efficacy of a fixed valerian hops extract combination (Ze 91019) in patients suffering from non-organic sleep disorder,’ Phytotherapy Research, 2007 Sep;21(9):847-51. Doi: 10.1002/ptr.2167.
9. Abdi F, Mobedi H, Roozbeh N. ‘Hops for Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms: Mechanisms of Action,’ Journal of Menopausal Medicine, 2016 Aug;22(2):62-4. Doi: 10.6118/jmm.2016.22.2.62. Epub 2016 Aug 30.
10. Noorafsha A, Karimi F, Kamali A, Karbalay-Doust S, Nami M. ‘Restorative effects of curcumin on sleep-deprivation induced memory impairments and structural changes of the hippocampus in a rat model,’ Life Sciences, 2017 Nov 15;189:63-70. Doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2017.09.018. Epub 2017 Sep 18.
11. San A, Thongpraditchote S, Sithisarn P, Gritsanapan W. ‘Total Phenolics and Total Flavonoids Contents and Hypnotic Effect in Mice of Ziziphus mauritiana Lam. Seed Extract’, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013;2013:835854. Doi: 10.1155/2013/835854. Epub 2013 Jun 4.
12. Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality, Phytotherapy Research, 2011 Aug;25(8):1153-9. Doi: 10.1002/ptr.3400. Epub 2011 Feb 3.
13. Mucci M, Carraro C, Mancino P, Monti M, Papadia L, Volpini G, Benvenuti C. ‘Soy isoflavones, lactobacilli, Magnolia bark extract, vitamin D3 and calcium. Controlled clinical study in menopause,’ Minerva Ginecologica, 2006 Aug;58(4):323-34.
14. Cappelli V, Morgante G, Di Sabatino A, Massaro M, De Leo V. ‘Evaluation of the efficacy of a new nutraceutical product in the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms,’ Minerva Ginecologica, 2015 Dec; 67(6):515-21.
15. Abbasi B, Kimigar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi M, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. ‘The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial,’ Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 2012 Dec; 17(12): 1161–1169.
16. Bannai M, Kawai N. ‘New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep,’ Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 2012;118(2):145-8. Doi: 10.1254/jphs.11r04fm. Epub 2012 Jan 27