A Key to Hormone Health: Why Sleep Matters for Women Over 40
An often overlooked, but critically important piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving your health and well-being is… SLEEP For women, especially after 40, taking steps to support hormone balance is important for overall vitality and quality of life. In this blog post, we’ll dig into the connection between sleep and hormone health, focusing on the unique needs of women in their 40s and 50s. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore five natural strategies that can help improve sleep and support hormone balance. It may seem insignificant, but while you sleep, your body is literally hitting the “reset” button! For women, hormonal fluctuations happen as you head through perimenopause and into menopause. These hormonal changes can be the reason why you may seemingly all of a sudden find yourself with a range of symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, and sleep disturbances. Often there can be an assumption that “big things” need to be done to help, but the truth is a big piece can actually be found in the small steps you take consistently.
You may wonder WHY sleep is particularly important for hormone health in women over 40:
- Estrogen and Progesterone Harmony: Sleep aids in balancing estrogen and progesterone levels, which can be especially challenging during perimenopause and menopause. Estrogen dominance is also a common problem that can be more of an issue if sleep is a struggle.
- Cortisol Balance: Not enough sleep can increase stress (and stress hormone production), while too much stress can also cause difficulty sleeping. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, but for many people while stress may be something that’s more of a challenge to work to reduce, making sleep a priority is something you can focus on that will make a big difference. Quality sleep helps regulate your stress hormone cortisol, while consistent sleep deprivation can lead to increased cortisol levels. This is why consistent sleep deprivation has the ability to disrupt other hormones like insulin and thyroid hormones, potentially contributing to weight gain and metabolic issues.
- Growth Hormone Production: During deep sleep, your body creates growth hormone, which is needed for building and keeping lean muscle, reducing fat storage, and supporting overall well-being. If you’re not getting enough good quality sleep, it can lead to decreased growth hormone production, which contributes to changes in body composition.
- Thyroid Hormone Balance: If you have thyroid issues, or suspect you may, sleep is one of the simplest things that plays a crucial role in thyroid hormone production and regulation. Poor sleep quality can lead to thyroid imbalances, metabolic troubles and lower overall energy levels.
- Melatonin: Getting enough quality sleep is essential for the proper secretion of melatonin, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin can help protect against age-related health issues because it can act as an antioxidant.
Natural Strategies for Better Sleep and Hormone HealthNow that we understand the importance of sleep in maintaining hormone balance, let’s explore five natural strategies that women over 40 can implement to improve their sleep quality:
- Sleep Schedule: Set a routine and stick to it. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This consistency helps regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up refreshed.
- Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, gentle stretching, or meditation. Avoid stimulating activities like intense exercise, watching stressful TV shows or checking emails, which can get in the way of your ability to unwind.
- Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Remove electronic devices that emit blue light, which can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
- Mindful Eating: Avoid big meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. These can disrupt sleep and hormone balance. Aim for a dinner that includes protein and healthy fats to help keep blood sugar regulated, and herbal teas like chamomile or valerian root to promote relaxation.
- Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, but avoid intense workouts close to bedtime. Exercise can help regulate hormones and improve sleep quality when timed appropriately.