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The Sleep Doctor by Dr. Michael Breus - 3M ago

But it can help improve your sleep, health, and performance

I want to jump in and address a topic that seems to be causing some confusion: if you use the supplement CBD, you are not consuming “pot.”

I’ve written before about the potential benefits of CBD for sleep and health. I don’t want to see anyone miss out on those potential benefits because of a lack of understanding about what CBD is, or isn’t. So, let’s take a closer look at CBD, or cannabidiol, and how it is different from the compound cannabis plant that delivers a “high” — THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

What is cannabis, exactly?

Let’s start briefly with the big picture. Cannabis is a genus of plants with several different species. The cannabis plants have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine, for sleep difficulties as well as to treat pain, inflammation, stomach upset, and anxiety, among their many uses. Parts of the cannabis plant are also used recreationally, whether smoked, vaporized, cooked into food, or brewed in tea.

The cannabis plant has dozens of biochemically active compounds, known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids have received a lot of scientific attention in recent decades, as scientists have worked to understand their therapeutic benefits. The first cannabinoid was identified by scientists in the mid-1960s. Since then, scientists have gone on to identify and study more than 80 individual cannabinoids, which continue to be investigated for their symptom-relieving and disease-fighting abilities.

Different cannabinoids have different effects on the body. I’m going to focus on two of the major and most well-researched cannabinoids: CBD and THC. These two cannabinoids are both found naturally in the cannabis plant, and are both made synthetically for medicinal use.  Both with potential health benefits, they are very different compounds.

Let’s look at THC first.

THC—not CBD–delivers the ‘high’ of marijuana

Tetrahydrocannabinol—known as THC for short—is a cannabinoid that is the main psychoactive component in cannabis. What does psychoactive mean? A psychoactive substance is one that affects brain function and mental state, temporarily altering one’s mood, consciousness, perception and behavior.  THC is the component in cannabis that delivers the “high” associated with marijuana. Different strains of cannabis used in medical marijuana will have different levels of THC, which in turn deliver different degrees of psychoactive effects.

There’s been a significant amount of research into THC and its potential medicinal benefits. Scientists have found that THC may function as:

We’re still learning more about the potential benefits, risks and side effects of THC when used as medical treatment.

CBD—a calming cannabinoid, with no ‘high’

CBD, or cannabidiol, is another major component of cannabis that has been well studied and continues to attract a lot of attention from scientists for its potential health benefits. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects. There is no “high” or other mind-altering effect from CBD. On the contrary: CBD on its own has calming, anti-anxiety effects—one of the reasons why it’s been identified as a useful supplement to treat insomnia and other sleep problems.

In supplement form, CBD is either extracted from the cannabis plant or produced synthetically, so users can benefit from its therapeutic capabilities without exposure to other cannabinoids, including THC. CBD is not the same thing as medical marijuana. Unlike medical cannabis, CBD is legal in all 50 states. Even if you live in a state where medical cannabis is currently not legal, you can still purchase and use CBD.

The benefits of CBD to sleep and health

The research into the health benefits of CBD is pretty exciting. CBD has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant capabilities, which means it may help in treating and preventing a broad range of conditions, from chronic pain to mood disorders, autoimmune and neurological diseases. Research shows CBD can be a:

Pain reliever. CBD works as an analgesic, meaning it can reduce pain. It’s been shown effective in improving both chronic and difficult-to-treat pain.

Brain cell booster. There’s evidence that CBD may spur the growth of new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis. Studies show CBD may help protect the brain—and scientists are investigating CBD as a therapy for neurological disease, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Mood-stabilizer. CBD has been shown to improve depression and anxiety, effective in addressing both the mental and physical symptoms associated with those disorders.

Cancer-fighter. CBD is being examined closely for its possible role in cancer treatment, on number of different fronts. It can be effective in reducing pain and nausea in cancer patients. CBD can also stimulate appetite. What’s more, CBD is showing promise in treating several types of cancer directly, inhibiting cancer cell growth and metastasis.

Sleep promoter. CBD is one of the supplements I recommend to my patients for sleep. Because of its relaxing, mood-stabilizing, anti-anxiety effects, it can be useful in treating insomnia, and in helping people get more sleep. It also may help strengthen sleep-wake cycles, and in small doses reduce daytime sleepiness. CBD has been shown effective in treating REM behavior disorder and REM sleep abnormalities, in people with conditions including Parkinson’s disease and PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Here’s my full rundown on the science and benefits of CBD, along with information about side effects and interactions with other supplements and medications.

I hope this helps clear up any confusion about CBD and its relationship to cannabis. The benefits of CBD for sleep and health are available without needing to consume the cannabis plant—and most definitely without a mind-altering “high”!

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM

The Sleep Doctor


The post CBD is not ‘weed’ appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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I can’t believe it’s already March! And as many of you may remember we actually lose an hour of sleep next Sunday March 11th. In order to prep a little before that sleep loss head on over to my blog for a Daylight Savings Sleep Schedule that you can start on Monday and not have ANY effects of the sleep loss!

Speaking of Sleep Loss, there is now proof that when one person gets up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, there is a HIGH likelihood they are disrupting their partner’s sleep. Check out the survey results below.


I just created a free mini sleep course and I’d love for you to have it, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page and click the Like button then press the Send Message button at the top of the page and type in the words Free Sleep Course and I’ll rush it to you. If you’ve previously liked my page, you just need to send the message.

Daylight Savings Time Sleep Adjustment Schedule

Here is the good news, this is going to be easy and effective.

On Monday eat dinner 15 min earlier than normal and go to bed 15 min earlier than normal (NOT MORE), don’t worry if you don’t fall asleep right away, but be in bed, lights out.

On Tuesday morning wake up 15 min earlier and go over to the window, get 15 min of sunlight while drinking a bottle of water, if you find that difficult, you can use these Lighting Science Health E-Lights (choose the GoodDay bulb for waking up) Use the code Breus17 to get a 10% discount. Tuesday evening keep the same bedtime from Monday. Now add 15 min every 2 days until Sunday and you will already be there!

Here is a chart with a schedule I will be following:

Old Bedtime New Bedtime Old Wake up New Wake up Old Dinner Time  New Dinner Time
Monday (3/5) 12:00 am 11:45 pm 6:30 am 6:15 am 7:00 pm 6:45 pm
Tuesday (3/6) 11:45 pm 6:15 6:45 pm
Wednesday (3/7) 11:30 pm 6:00 6:30 pm
Thursday (3/8) 11:30 pm 6:00 6:30 pm
Friday (3/9) 11:15 pm 5:45 6:15 pm
Saturday (3/10) 11:15 pm 5:45 6:15 pm
Sunday (3/11) 11:00 pm 5:00 6:00 pm

How Your Middle Of The Night Bathroom Break Is Impacting Your Relationship

Two Surveys were conducted by a NeoTract Interventional Urology, asked 1,000 men and 1,000 women over the age of 50 about the impact of one partner (usually male with an enlarged prostate) going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The results reported (by Sleep Review Magazine) showed:

Of the women whose partners were experiencing symptoms, 42% said those symptoms affect their lives in at least one way. The biggest impact occurred at night, with 64% saying their partners’ symptoms affected their sleep. Nearly one-third said symptoms influenced social life and vacations, and 39% said their relationship with their significant other was impacted.

The men were also surveyed, and the results reported (by Sleep Review Magazine) were:

  • 5% said they were experiencing at least one symptom of BPH, 46% were experiencing multiple symptoms
  • Of those experiencing symptoms, 68% said those symptoms affect their life in some way. The most common complaint was sleep (affecting 56%), followed by travel, social life, and work.
  • More than one-third were not aware these symptoms were signs of a treatable condition, rather than just a result of aging.
  • The survey also found that while 82% of men said they regularly wake up at least once in the night to urinate, the majority said the nighttime waking did not bother their significant other (82%). In contrast, the impact on sleep was the top issue for women whose significant others experienced symptoms, suggesting that men may not be aware of the effect their symptoms have on those around them.

This information may not be “News” to women, but this might be something that they can talk with their partners about. There is actually a new procedure for an enlarged prostate which can eliminate the problem, has no sexual side effects, and can be done in the office, relatively pain-free, talk to a sleep doctor or your personal physician for more details.

Sounds like it may be worth taking a look at it, and then getting some better sleep.

My most popular FB post – Signs Your Sleep Apnea Could Be Killing You

My most popular Twitter post – A Snoring Partner Wakes His Non-Snoring Partner an Average of 20 Times Per Night

That’s it for this week, be SURE you take the steps to set yourself up successfully for the Daylight Savings time change. This is simple to do and will have a VERY positive impact.

Sweet Dreams,

Dr. Michael Breus

The post How To Prepare Your Sleep For Daylight Savings Time, Free Sleep Course, and How Your Nighttime Bathroom Breaks Are Impacting Your Relationship appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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From sleep to memory to anxiety relief, magnolia can soothe, calm, and de-stress

If you’re not yet familiar with magnolia bark, you’re not alone. My patients are often unaware of this potent-with-health-benefits plant supplement. Despite its somewhat under-the-radar status, magnolia bark has been a powerhouse in traditional medicine for centuries. Filled with bioactive compounds that can address conditions from anxiety to inflammation, the extract of magnolia bark may play a beneficial role in healthy sleep, as well as stress-reduction, weight management, memory protection, and brain health.

What is magnolia bark?

Magnolia is a flowering tree (Latin name: magnolia officinalis) that is native to China. The magnolia plant has an ancient history as a therapeutic compound in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean medicine, used to promote sleep and relaxation, to ease anxiety, and to treat allergies and asthma, among other conditions. Both the bark of the magnolia tree and its flowers are used therapeutically. Magnolia bark extract is found in supplements, tea, toothpaste, and topical oils and cream.

I have a number of patients who use magnolia bark in supplement form to help with their sleep, stress, and anxiety.

How does magnolia bark work?  

The bark of the magnolia tree contains several natural, bioactive compounds that function as anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-allergic agents. Among most well-known and well-studied of these compounds are honokiol and magnolol. Magnolia bark works as an anxiolytic, helping to lower anxiety and depression and reduce stress. Magnolia bark can also act as a sedative, directly helping to facilitate sleep. (Of course, it’s anti-stress capabilities also help sleep, indirectly.)

Scientists have identified several other ways magnolia bark functions beneficially in the body. Magnolia is…

A GABA booster. GABA is a neurotransmitter that exerts a calming effect. Increased GABA activity quiets excitatory neurons in the brain, helps reduce anxiety, and promotes sleep.

A powerful antioxidant. Compounds in magnolia bark act as antioxidants, lowering levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and throughout the body.

An activator of cannabinoid receptors. The bioactive compounds in magnolia bark activate cannabinoid receptors. These receptors, located throughout the body, are part of the endocannabinoid system—which is getting a lot of attention from scientists these days for its role in immune health, pain relief, and disease-prevention. Activation of these receptors helps to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and elevate mood, among many other benefits.

An adrenaline inhibitor. Research suggests that bioactive compounds in magnolia bark can reduce adrenaline, a hormone strongly associated with stress, which stimulates vigilance and alertness. Other research indicates magnolia bark may suppress unhealthful levels of cortisol, another significant stress-related hormone.

Benefits of magnolia

Sleep. I’ve seen magnolia bark work effectively as a sleep promoter. That’s thanks to its ability to relax the mind and body, and to ease anxiety. It’s also thanks to magnolia bark’s power to increase GABA activity. GABA is important for sleep, and people with reduced GABA activity are prone to insomnia and other sleep problems. Research shows at least one bioactive compound in magnolia bark can increase the amount of time you spend in both REM sleep and NREM sleep, and reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep. Magnolia’s ability to lower levels of the alertness-producing hormone adrenaline may also make it an effective natural sleep aid for people who tend to be wired or stressed.

Stress and anxiety. Magnolia bark has a centuries-long history in traditional medicine as a stress-reliever and anxiety-soother. Magnolia’s GABA-boosting ability is one reason why. (GABA isn’t only important to sleep—healthy GABA activity is also important for mood.) Another reason is magnolia’s ability to activate cannabinoid receptors. I wrote recently about the calming, mood-elevating power of cannabinoid compounds, and the body’s own endocannabinoid system. Studies show magnolia bark’s effectiveness as an anxiolytic. One study indicates that one of the active compounds in magnolia bark—honokiol—works as effectively as the drug diazepam to treat anxiety, without the same risks of dependency or side effects.

Low mood. Magnolia bark affects the activity of both serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that are important to mood. Research indicates that magnolia on its own and in combination with ginger can help with depression.

Brain health. Along with help for sleep, my patients often want to know how they can take good care of their brains and protect their cognitive abilities with age. The first thing I tell them: healthy sleep is essential to brain health and to keeping memory and cognitive powers sharp. Magnolia bark’s GABA-activating effects and its power as an antioxidant mean it may deliver natural protection for a healthy brain. Research in mice suggests bioactive compounds in magnolia bark may help reduce a form of brain cell death that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Other research in mice shows magnolia bark’s bioactive compounds can help maintain levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps the brain process memory and learning. Reduced levels of acetylcholine are typically present in people with Alzheimer’s disease. In a study of mice with Alzheimer’s, the mice that were treated with magnolia bark extract experienced rebounds to memory and reductions in the type of brain plaque linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Cancer protection. Some bioactive compounds found in magnolia bark—notably the compound costunolide—are attracting a great deal of attention for their cancer-fighting capabilities. Studies show this compound in magnolia bark triggers the death of human cancer cells in several different types of cancer, including forms of leukemia, ovarian, and breast cancers. Recent research at John’s Hopkins University indicates that a compound in magnolia bark may reduce cancer cell growth in breast cancer that’s influenced by the hormone leptin, which regulates energy and appetite and plays a significant role in obesity.

Weight management. Studies suggest magnolia bark may deliver broad benefits for weight and metabolic health. Research shows compounds in magnolia bark extract may help guard against weight gain and decrease body fat. Studies also indicate magnolia bark can improve insulin resistance, and contribute to reductions in triglycerides and cholesterol.

Inflammation and pain. Magnolia bark has long been recognized in traditional and natural medicine for as an anti-inflammatory and a source of pain relief, and has been used to help alleviate joint and muscle pain, as well as headache and menstrual cramps. Research in mice shows magnolia bark can be effective in reducing pain caused by inflammation.

Digestion. Magnolia bark has traditionally been used to treat digestive problems, including abdominal bloating and pain, nausea, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. For digestive problems, magnolia bark is often paired with ginger in traditional and natural therapies.

Magnolia: what to know

Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This is not medical advice, but it is information you can use as a conversation-starter with your physician at your next appointment.

Magnolia dosing

The following doses are based on amounts that have been investigated in scientific studies. In general, it is recommended that users begin with the lowest suggested dose, and gradually increase as needed.

For general health, sleep, stress: Typical magnolia bark supplement doses are 200-400mg. Individual dosing will vary, and higher magnolia dosing levels may depend on an individual’s body weight, as well as other individual health conditions and treatment needs.

Possible side effects of magnolia

Magnolia is generally well tolerated by healthy adults. Limited research has shown possible side effects might include heartburn, shaking hands, thyroid problems, sexual problems, tiredness and headache, as well as dizziness.

The following people should consult with a physician before using a magnolia supplement:

  • Women who are pregnant or breast feeding. Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should not use magnolia.
  • Surgery patients. Magnolia can affect the central nervous system. When used in combination with anesthesia and other medications used in surgery, magnolia may interfere with nervous system functioning. Magnolia also can slow the clotting of blood. It’s recommended people stop using magnolia a minimum of two weeks before a planned surgery.

Magnolia interactions

These are commonly used medications and supplements that have scientifically-identified interactions with magnolia. People who take these or any other medications and supplements should consult with a physician before beginning to use magnolia as a supplement.

Interactions with medications

  • Alcohol. The combination of magnolia and alcohol may cause excessive sleepiness. This is particularly likely with larger doses of magnolia.
  • Anticoagulant medications
  • Sedative medications, including:
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants
  • Barbiturates

Interactions with other herbs and supplements

Herbs and supplements that promote sleepiness, including:

  • 5-HTP
  • Calamus
  • California poppy
  • Catnip
  • Hops
  • Jamaican dogwood
  • Kava
  • John’s Wort
  • Skullcap
  • Valerian
  • Yerba mansa

Herbs and supplements that work to slow blood clotting, including:

  • Angelica
  • Clove
  • Danshen
  • Feverfew
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Ginkgo
  • Panax ginseng
  • Horse chestnut
  • Red clover
  • Turmeric

I like the broad benefits magnolia bark can offer to people struggling with sleep and anxiety or stress, as well as the potential protective benefits for mood and cognition. This supplement offers a natural way to rest, relax and stay sharp and focused, all at the same time.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM

The Sleep Doctor



Chen, CR et al. (2012). Magnolol, a major bioactive constituent of the bark of Magnolia Officialis, induces sleep in thebiodiazapenesite of GABA(A) receptor in mice. Neuropharmacology, 63(6): 1191-9. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22771461

Chen, YL et al. (2001). Magnolol, a potent antioxidant from Magnolia officinalis, attenuates intimal thickening and MCP-1 expression after balloon injury of the aorta in cholesterol-fed rabbits. Basic research in cardiology, 96(4): 353-63. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11518191

Choi, JH et al. (2002). Costunolide triggers apoptosis in human leukemia U937 cells by depleting intracellular thiols. Japanese journal of cancer research: Gann, 93(12): 1327-33. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12495472/

Francis, PT. (2005). The interplay of neurotransmitters in Alzheimer’s disease. CNS Spectrums, 10(11 Suppl 18):6-9. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16273023

Ham, Becky. (2016, July 6). Can magnolia bark help break the link between obesity and breast cancer? Retrieved from: https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/07/06/magnolia-honokiol-breast-cancer-obesity/

Ge, Lanlan et al. (2017). Nine phenylethanoid glycosides from Magnolia officinalis var. bilobafruits and their protective effects against free radical-induced oxidative damage. Scientific Reports, 7: 45342. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5368604/

Gottesmann, C. (2002). GABA mechanisms and sleep. Neuroscience, 111(2): 231-9. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11983310

Han, H et al. (2011). Anxiolytic-like effects of 4-O-methylhonokiol isolated from Magnolia officinalis through enhancement of GABAergic transmission and chloride influx. Journal of medicinal food, 14(7-8): 724-31. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21501091

Hoi, Chu Peng, et al. (2010). Neuroprotective effect of honokiol and magnolol, compounds from Magnolia officinalis, on beta-amyloid-induced toxicity in PC12 cells. Phytotherapy Research, 24(10): 1538-42. Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.3178/abstract

Koetter, U et al. (2009). Interactions of Magnolia and Ziziphus extracts with selected central nervous system receptors. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 124(3): 421-5. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19505549

Kuribara, H et al. (1999). Honokiol, a putative anxiolytic agent extracted from magnolia bark, has no diazepam-like side-effects in mice. Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, 51(1): 97-103. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10197425

Kuribara, H et al. (2000). The anxiolytic effect of two oriental herbal drugs in Japan attributed to honokiol from magnolia bark. Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, 52(11): 1425-9. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11186252

Lee, Yong Kyung et al. (2009). Protective effect of the ethanol extract of Magnolia officinalis and 4-O-methylhonokiol on scopolamine-induced memory impairment and the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase activity. Journal of natural medicines, 63(3): 274-82. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690856/

Lee, Young-Jung et al. (2012). A Comparison between Extract Products of Magnolia officinalis on Memory Impairment and Amyloidogenesis in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Biometrics & Therapeutics, 20(3): 332-339. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3794532/

Lin, Yi-Ru (2009). Antinociceptive actions of honokiol and magnolol on glutamatergic and inflammatory pain. Journal of Biomedical Science, 16(10: 94. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2765942/

Mackie, K. (2008). Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do. Journal of neuroendocrinology, Suppl 1: 10-4. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18426493

Magnolia officinalis. Retrieved from: https://examine.com/supplements/magnolia-officinalis/

Natural Medicines Therapeutic Research. Magnolia officinalis. (2017, December 8). Retrieved from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com

Pacher, Pál, et al. (2006). The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy. Pharmacological Reviews, 58(3): 389-462. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/

Qiang, LQ et al. (2009). Combined administration of the mixture of honokiol and magnolol and ginger oil evokes antidepressant-like synergism in rats. Archives of pharmacal research, 32(9): 1281-92. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19784585#

Rempel, Viktor et al (2013). Magnolia Extract, Magnolol, and Metabolites: Activation of Cannabinoid CB2 Receptors and Blockade of the Related GPR55. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 4(1): 41-45. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027495/#

Roy, A, Manikkam R. (2015). Cytotoxic Impact of Costunolide Isolated from Costus speciosus on Breast Cancer via Differential Regulation of Cell Cycle-An In-vitro and In-silico Approach. Phytotherapy Research: PTR. 29(10): 1532-9. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26178525

Tachikawa, E et al. (2000). Effects of extract and ingredients isolated from Magnolia obovata thunberg on catecholamine secretion from bovine adrenal chromaffin cells. Biochemical pharmacology, 60(3): 433-40. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10856439

Xu, Q et al. (2008). Antidepressant-like effects of the mixture of honokiol and magnolol from the barks of Magnolia officinalis in stressed rodents. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry, 32(2): 715-25. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18093712

Woodbury, Anna et al. (2013). Neuro-Modulating Effects of Honokiol: A Review. Frontiers in neurology, 4: 130. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3769637/

Yi, LT et al. (2009). Antidepressant-like synergism of extracts from magnolia bark and ginger rhizome alone and in combination in mice. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry, 33(4): 616-24. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19285110#

Yang, YI et al. (2011). Costunolide induces apoptosis in platinum-resistant human ovarian cancer cells by generating reactive oxygen species. Gynecologic oncology, 123(3): 588-96. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21945308

Zhang, Zhiguo, et al. (2014). The Magnolia Bioactive Constituent 4-O-Methylhonokiol Protects against High-Fat Diet-Induced Obesity and Systemic Insulin Resistance in Mice. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2014: 965954. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4060163/

The post How magnolia bark affects sleep and health appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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Welcome to The Sunday Sleeper, I’m excited you are here. Each Sunday I share a wrap up of important topics in sleep and sleep science. This week is full of interesting stuff, so get comfy and let’s get started!

Snoring Quiz

First, if you snore, you should take my new
Snoring Quiz, you’ll learn more about why you snore, your snoring type and what to do about it.

What Is Autophagy And Why Does It Matter For Better Sleep?

First, on Friday, I sent an email to you about Autophagy, weight loss, and sleep, your response was off the charts, so I went back to the author of the book I referenced, Glow 15 and asked her if I could do a quick interview with her. Naomi Whittel generously agreed to go into more detail about the Nobel Prize winning science of autophagy and you can find the interview here. I’m pretty sure that I’m the first person to interview her on this topic, so that means you’ll be the first to see it as well, enjoy! Listen here.

While Autophagy applies to all of us, Naomi’s book is focused on women, so, if you are a woman who wants to lose a couple of pounds easily and quickly, I strongly recommend getting a copy of her book here, she also has some cool free gifts if you buy the book today, check it out.

Menopause, Maca, And Better Sleep – Here’s The Research And The Results

Also, many of you have been reading my posts about menopause and sleep lately.

First of all THANK YOU, I hope you have enjoyed the blog series (I know it was kinda long, but there was a ton of info!). This was the final installment (for now).

Because so many people wanted a natural solution that would help them with menopause and sleep, I went out and did the research. As a result of that research (and trust me there is plenty of BUNK out there)  I have recently partnered with an amazing group whose product Femmenessance is changing the lives of women everywhere. As I was digging deep into the research, I discovered that MACA can be very helpful.

Did you know that there are 12 different types of Maca?

Recently I’ve been studying up on Maca-GO®, which has been shown in a growing body of scientific research to be more effective than any other natural alternative to date in relieving menopausal symptoms and it is the first to demonstrate in published clinical trials statistically significant support in helping balance women’s hormones during perimenopause and menopause. Maca-GO® (commercially known as Femmenessence) has been developed with specific, concentrated and standardized phenotype formulations of Lepidum peruvianum to support women’s health and address symptoms during a woman’s reproductive years, perimenopause and postmenopause.

Scientific studies of Maca-GO® show it may deliver some pretty broad benefits for women in perimenopause and postmenopause, including:

  • Restored hormone balance, including increases in estrogen and stabilization of progesterone and FSH levels
  • Cardiovascular benefits, including reductions in blood pressure, rises to the “good” HDL cholesterol and reductions to the “bad” LDL cholesterol, a lowering of overall cholesterol levels, and significant reductions to triglycerides
  • Maintenance of a healthy body weight
  • Bone health, including increase to bone density
  • Improvements to mood, including alleviation of depression, anxiety and stress
  • Reductions in hot flashes and night sweats
  • Improvements to sleep
  • Increases to energy and physical performance

This is an impressive list, and in the clinical trials it worked for 17 out of 20 women (85 percent). I look forward to seeing more research on the benefits of maca. While the studies on Maca-GO® demonstrated benefits for sleep in peri- and postmenopausal women, I will be interested to see if there is a specific phenotype ideal for men and women just for sleep.

Head on over to the Femmenessance website to learn more about the amazing effects of the correct type of Maca, for menopause and get some discounts if you want to try it for yourself! I know how difficult it can be to sleep and function during menopause and I’d love to help you find some relief.

Why You Should Be Sleeping In The Nude

Those Aussies at Vogue had a keen eye to look at some beauty sleep research and here is what they are reporting: Based on a study from 2012 showing 74% of people wear pajamas to bed! While I have written on this topic previously here are some of the highlights.

  • Remember sleep follows your core body temperature rhythm, so if you are too warm in bed (due to flannel PJs or Polyester comforters) your body temp cannot drop, which means you cannot sleep.
  • There is scientific evidence to show that sleeping naked reduces brown belly fat (the worst kind).
  • Sleeping naked will improve intimacy, which can be good for sleep.

Alright, that’s it for this Sunday, I hope your day is beautiful and your nights are full of restful, restorative sleep!

Sweet Dreams!

Michael Breus, Ph.D The Sleep Doctor

The post Weight Loss, Sleep, Autophagy, Naomi Whittel’s New Glow 15 Book, My New Snoring Quiz And How To Sleep Better During Menopause appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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Last week, I talked about my favorite supplements to improve sleep—and the surprising ways they can also help women in menopause with other symptoms. There’s a broad range of supplements available to women who are interested in managing their menopause symptoms as naturally as possible. Judging from the interest and enthusiasm of the women I talk with—that’s most of you!

Let’s take a closer look at some of the supplements that target menopause symptoms, with an eye on how they also might affect sleep.

A decision to use supplements should be made in consultation with your physician, taking into account your individual health history and risks. This is not medical advice, but I hope this discussion will give women a starting point for those conversations with their physicians about natural therapies to improve their sleep, protect their health, and reduce their uncomfortable symptoms during menopause.

When you talk to your doctor, be sure to discuss any supplements you’re considering and review potential interactions with any medications or other supplements you’re already using.


Many women who are interested in boosting their estrogen levels during and after menopause, but don’t want to use hormone replacement therapy, turn to phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are chemical compounds found naturally in plants—compounds that both act like estrogen and affect the body’s own estrogen, when ingested.

Foods rich in phytoestrogens include:

  • Soy and soy products (these are particularly high in phytoestrogens)
  • Many vegetables and fruits, including oranges, broccoli, and carrots
  • Other legumes, including peanuts, beans, and peas

Women who eat a plant-based diet, and particularly those who regularly consume soy products, are getting phytoestrogens through their diet—a factor that they should consider with their doctors when determining whether to further supplement with phytoestrogens during menopause.

There are three main types of phytoestrogens:

  • Isoflavones
  • Lignans
  • Coumestans

Research shows phytoestrogens may reduce menopause symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats, anxiety and other mood problems, and cognitive difficulties including poor memory and lack of concentration. Phytoestrogens may also offer women in and beyond menopause protection against osteoporosis and bone loss, as well as benefits for cardiovascular, metabolic health, and cognitive performance. There’s also evidence suggesting phytoestrogens may have anti-cancer effects, including reducing risks for breast cancer.

Scientific studies have shown phytoestrogens improve sleep, lowering sleep disturbances, reducing insomnia symptoms, diminishing daytime tiredness, and increasing sleep efficiency.

The effects of phytoestrogens from food sources and supplements are complex. Because of their ability to act like and influence estrogen, a hormone, phytoestrogens directly affect the body’s endocrine system. Phytoestrogens can have both estrogenic (estrogen-promoting) and anti-estrogenic (estrogen-blocking) effects. Using phytoestrogens is a decision best made in consultation with a physician, considering a woman’s diet, age, individual health conditions and risks, other medications and supplements she’s already using, and the severity of her menopause symptoms. Because they can function like estrogen in the body, long-term use of phytoestrogens may carry similar risks as estrogen replacement therapy, and women with breast and other estrogen-influenced cancers, or who have risks for these cancers, may be advised not to use phytoestrogen supplements. Be sure to discuss both the potential benefits and potential risks with your physician before using phytoestrogen supplements.

Let’s look more closely at some of the phytoestrogen supplements used by women in menopause:

Genistein. This isoflavone may reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats, and may also improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to research. genistein may offer protection to the cardiovascular system, and make it easier to avoid gaining weight. There’s also evidence linking genistein to a reduction in bone loss. Research shows this isoflavone may be helpful to sleep—thanks to its anxiolytic properties—and may increase amounts of non-REM sleep.

Daidzein. Another isoflavone, Daidzein works similarly to genistein. It’s been shown to relieve hot flashes, and may help reduce bone loss, on its own and in combination with calcium.

Red clover. An isoflavone extracted from the red clover plant, some studies show that this supplement can reduce hot flashes and night sweats—while other studies indicate the benefits of red clover to hot flashes is not significant. There’s also evidence suggesting red clover may have anti-anxiety effects, helping reduce stress and promote relaxation. For this reason, red clover may also help sleep.

Resveratrol. This phytoestrogen—best-known for its presence in red wine—has been shown to reduce chronic pain in post-menopausal women, many of whom will experience pain from osteoarthritis. Other research indicates resveratrol can benefit mood, improve brain function and improve cognitive performance in post-menopausal women. Studies show dietary resveratrol may help strengthen sleep-wake cycles. It’s ability to alleviate chronic pain and improve mood may also contribute to the sleep-promoting effects of resveratrol.

Flaxseed. A popular supplement for all-around health, flaxseed contains lignans that studies show may reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Research also indicates the benefits of flaxseed to cardiovascular health, and its role in lowering cholesterol.

Black cohosh. I hear from a lot of women wondering about this supplement for menopause symptoms. The root of the black cohosh plant has a long history of use in Native American traditional medicine to treat menstrual symptoms and symptoms of menopause. Black cohosh is often regarded as a phytoestrogen, but more recent research suggests it may not have estrogenic effects in the body—however, the precise mechanisms of black cohosh are not yet fully understood. Research shows black cohosh may alleviate night sweats and hot flashes, as well as lowering anxiety, and reducing vaginal dryness. It’s also been shown to improve sleep, likely because of its stress and anxiety lowering capabilities. Some scientists raise questions about the research of black cohosh and its effectiveness for menopause symptoms, pointing specifically to inconsistency in the analysis and reporting of black cohosh studies.

Evening primrose oil. While not a phytoestrogen itself, evening primrose is sometimes found in combination with phytoestrogens in supplements that target women’s health and menopause symptoms. It is also available on its own, and used to treat menopause symptoms including hot flashes. High in omega-6 fatty acids, evening primrose oil may reduce inflammation, ease pain, help support brain function, and contribute to bone health.

Vitamins for sleep and menopause

Here are some of the vitamins most often recommended for women in menopause. It’s important to consult with your physician before adding a new vitamin to your regimen. Also, some research shows vitamins, when taken as a multivitamin or multiple individual vitamins taken simultaneously, may have disruptive effects on sleep. We need more research into the effects of vitamin supplements on sleep, to better understand what sleep-promoting or sleep-disrupting side effects may exist.

Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, and may help lower inflammation. Vitamin E also may contribute to reduced stress and risk for depression, as well as providing protection for your heart and your brain. Research also suggests Vitamin E may help menopausal women with hot flashes and night sweats.

B Vitamins. The B vitamins have a broad range of benefits that may be useful to women in menopause, including stress reduction, immune system protection, a rise in energy and mood, and protection for cognitive functions including memory.  In particular Vitamin B6 increases the production of serotonin, which can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. (Serotonin is also involved in the production of melatonin, the essential sleep hormone.) Vitamin B12 has been shown to increase energy and to reduce mental and physical symptoms of fatigue.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important nutrient for women of all ages, and can have particular value for women in menopause. Technically, Vitamin D is considered a hormone when produced by the body naturally, in response to sunlight. It’s important for bone health: a lack of vitamin D can put women at risk for weakening bones, bone injury, and bone pain, especially with age. Vitamin D can also assist in maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve written before about the potential benefits of Vitamin D for sleep, and the science that suggests maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D can improve both the quality of sleep and the amount of sleep you get.


Maca is the common name for a plant native to Peru, which has a long history of use in traditional medicine. One species of this plant, Lepidum peruvianum, is scientifically recognized for its broad array of health benefits for both men and women. Lepidum peruvianum has several natural, active compounds that are biochemically related to the hormones women lose throughout the menopausal transition, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This natural supplement may be a beneficial therapy for women in menopause who are seeking non-hormonal treatments for their symptoms, and to protect and enhance their long-term health, sleep, and performance.

However it is important to be aware that not all maca is created equal. This is a complex plant species, with an array of active compounds. Lepidum peruvianum has no fewer than 13 phenotypes, each with its own different physiological effects. Most are beneficial, but some potentially harmful for women if they use the wrong phenotype for them. When seeking out maca as a supplement, it’s critical to know you’re getting the right phenotypes of the maca plant for your needs—and that the product you’re purchasing is accurate in its label and contents.

Recently I’ve been studying up on Maca-GO®, which has been shown in a growing body of scientific research to be more effective than any other natural alternative to date in relieving menopausal symptoms and it is the first to demonstrate in published clinical trials statistically significant support in helping balance women’s hormones during perimenopause and menopause. Maca-GO® (commercially known as Femmenessence) has been developed with specific, concentrated and standardized phenotype formulations of Lepidum peruvianum to support women’s health and address symptoms during a woman’s reproductive years, perimenopause and postmenopause.

Scientific studies of Maca-GO® show it may deliver some pretty broad benefits for women in perimenopause and postmenopause, including:

  • Restored hormone balance, including increases in estrogen and stabilization of progesterone and FSH levels
  • Cardiovascular benefits, including reductions in blood pressure, rises to the “good” HDL cholesterol and reductions to the “bad” LDL cholesterol, a lowering of overall cholesterol levels, and significant reductions to triglycerides
  • Maintenance of a healthy body weight
  • Bone health, including increase to bone density
  • Improvements to mood, including alleviation of depression, anxiety and stress
  • Reductions in hot flashes and night sweats
  • Improvements to sleep
  • Increases to energy and physical performance

This is an impressive list, and in the clinical trials it worked for 17 out of 20 women (85 percent). I look forward to seeing more research on the benefits of maca. While the studies on Maca-GO® demonstrated benefits for sleep in peri- and postmenopausal women, I will be interested to see if there is a specific phenotype ideal for men and women just for sleep.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM

The Sleep Doctor


The post Other natural supplements for menopause and sleep appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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There was so much fascinating research reported this week that I almost had too many studies to tell you about! After a lot of work, I narrowed it down to three that I think you will learn something really useful from, right now.

Acupuncture Out Performs Sleeping Pills

The first was a study looking at the effects of acupuncture on your sleep.

Researchers looked at acupuncture and compared it to Lunesta (a prescription sleeping pill, generic name is Zopiclone) and showed that acupuncture outperformed Lunesta with a 92.9% effective rate, while Lunesta came in at only 67.9%!

A separate study conducted by Yuexiu District Second Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers finds acupuncture more effective than a benzodiazepine, estazolam (Brand name ProSom). The drug is a hypnotic agent taken for sleep disorders. Acupuncture achieved a total effective rate of 92.5% and estazolam only achieved a 67.5% total effective rate.

Learn more about this study and which acupuncture points were used here.

Combine acupuncture and my Better Sleep Course for a one, two combination that will put you to sleep and keep you sleeping well through the night.

The iPad’s Night Shift Mode Fails To Stop Melatonin Suppression – Big Fail For Sleepers

The iPhone is back in the Sleep Research News! As many of you may remember, I wrote a blog a while back about blue light from phones and how it affects sleep. Apple came out with a software solution called Night Shift, which was an update for the iPhone IOS. Guess what? It was a total FAIL!

Sleep Review reports that a study from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute investigated the effectiveness of Night Shift for lessening the impacts of nighttime iPad use on melatonin suppression. The study is published by the peer-reviewed journal Lighting Research & Technology.

In the study, Mariana Figueiro, PhD, and a team of LRC researchers recruited 12 young adults to view iPads between 11 pm and 1 am on four separate nights under four experimental conditions. Results showed that all three lighting interventions significantly suppressed melatonin over the two hours of each study night. More importantly, there was no significant difference between the effectiveness of the two Night Shift settings. The study’s main takeaway is that changing screen color alone is insufficient for limiting the impact of portable electronic devices on melatonin levels in the evening, and that screen brightness should also be reduced.

And, you should always wear blue light blocking glasses if you are going to use any light emitting device in bed at night.

Here’s What To Do To Not Be A Drowsy Drive (And Why)

Finally, new data looking at the real statistics behind drowsy driving and they are pretty scary! New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness to be nearly 8 times higher than federal estimates indicate.

In the study, researchers examined video of drivers’ faces in the 3 minutes leading up to a crash. Using a scientific measure linking the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to their level of drowsiness, the researchers determined that 9.5% of all crashes and 10.8% of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness. Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only 1% to 2% of crashes.

AAA recommends that drivers:

  • Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake
  • Avoid heavy foods
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

For longer trips, drivers should:

  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
  • Do not underestimate the power of a quick nap. Pulling into a rest stop and taking a quick catnap—at least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes of sleep—can help to keep you alert on the road.

“To help drivers determine if their medications may cause drowsiness, AAA and the AAA Foundation developed Roadwise Rx, a free and confidential online tool that generates personalized feedback about how the interactions between prescription, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal supplements can affect safety behind the wheel.” I have been playing with it and it looks very cool.

My most popular FB post:  Understanding L-theanine – Sleep better at night, feel relaxed, and alert during the day.

My most popular Twitter post: Weight Loss and Sleep: Is There a Connection? 

Alright, that’s it for this week, I’ll be back next week with more interesting sleep news!

Sweet Dreams!

Michael Breus, Ph.D

The Sleep Doctor

The post Alternative To Sleeping Pills and Why the iPhone NightShift Mode Doesn’t Work appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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Treating sleep disruptions and menopause symptoms naturally

So many women I talk to want to treat their sleep problems as naturally as possible. I’m on board with that idea! Lifestyle and behavioral changes, including diet, exercise, mind-body therapies, relaxation exercises and stress management are the foundation of healthy, lifelong sleep hygiene. For many women, supplements can also play a tremendously beneficial role in improving sleep.

The same goes for managing menopause symptoms. The good news is that many of the most well-studied and effective supplements for sleep problems also can help women find relief from menopausal symptoms, and move through the menopause transition feeling, thinking, and performing their best.

Here, I’ll talk about some of the best sleep-promoting supplements—and how they can also address menopause symptoms.

A decision to use supplements should be made in consultation with your physician, taking into account your individual health history and risks. This is not medical advice, but I hope this discussion will give women a starting point for those conversations with their physicians about natural therapies to improve their sleep, protect their health, and reduce their uncomfortable symptoms during menopause.

When you talk to your doctor, be sure to discuss any supplements you’re considering and review potential interactions with any medications or other supplements you’re already using.

Melatonin: the go-to sleep hormone
Most women know melatonin as a go-to supplement for sleep. But a lot of women don’t know that melatonin can treat other symptoms of menopause. I wrote recently about the broad spectrum of benefits melatonin has for sleep, cardiovascular and cognitive health, as well as other health benefits.

Many people think melatonin works as a sedative—but it doesn’t. Melatonin—whether produced by your body or ingested as a supplement – improves sleep by helping the body better regulate its biological clock and sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin can help to strengthen and improve sleep-wake cycles, making it easier to sleep on a regular schedule. Melatonin can also shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, and increase overall sleep amounts. Higher levels of melatonin also may improve the quality of sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness and fatigue, as well as increasing REM sleep.

Melatonin has strong antioxidant powers—and that means it can help protect against cell damage in the brain and throughout the body. Recent research shows that melatonin may exert its protective, antioxidant effect over neural cells, helping to delay or prevent cognitive impairment and memory loss. Women’s risks for cognitive decline increase as they age and move through menopause.

There’s also evidence that melatonin can strengthen aging bones. Scientists have recently identified melatonin as a promising therapy to prevent and to treat osteoporosis. The decline in estrogen and other hormones that happens during menopause increase women’s risk for bone loss and osteoporosis.

Here’s some important information to know, when considering using a melatonin supplement: Recent research found that the actual melatonin content found in many supplements on the market may vary significantly from what product labels claim. Scientists at Ontario’s University of Guelph found that in more than 71 percent of melatonin supplements, the amount of melatonin was more than 10 percent different from what the product label indicated. Some products contained as much as 83 percent less melatonin, while other products contained as much as 478 percent more melatonin. That means a great many consumers aren’t getting the doses they think they are. Before you begin using melatonin, be sure to do your research and get your melatonin from a trusted source.

Magnolia bark: the ancient sleep booster and stress beater

The magnolia plant has an ancient history as a therapeutic compound in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean medicine, used to promote sleep and relaxation, to ease anxiety, and to treat allergies and asthma, among other conditions. (I’ll be sharing a full profile of the therapeutic powers of magnolia bark soon, so check back to learn all about the benefits of this supplement.)

Research shows the bioactive compounds in magnolia bark can reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep, and can increase the amount of time you spend in both REM sleep and NREM sleep. Magnolia lowers levels of adrenaline, making it an effective natural sleep aid for people who tend to be wired or stressed.

Magnolia bark can be highly effective as a stress-reliever and anxiety-soother. Research indicates that one of the active compounds in magnolia bark—honokiol—works as effectively as the drug diazepam to treat anxiety, without the same risks of dependency or side effects. Women going through menopause often experienced heightened stress as well as anxiety and depression, which can interfere with quality of life, daily performance, and relationships.

Magnolia bark affects the activity of both serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that are important to mood. Research indicates that magnolia can help with depression, both on its own and in combination with ginger. Research shows specifically that magnolia bark helps improve sleep and relieve mood problems in women undergoing menopause.

Magnolia bark’s bioactive compounds can help maintain levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps the brain process memory and learning.

Weight gain is a common problem and concern for women undergoing menopause. Research shows compounds in magnolia bark extract may help guard against weight gain and decrease body fat. Studies also indicate magnolia bark can improve insulin resistance, and contribute to reductions in triglycerides and cholesterol. Estrogen

Magnolia bark has long been used in traditional and natural medicine for as an anti-inflammatory and a source of pain relief, and has been used to help alleviate joint and muscle pain, as well as headache and menstrual cramps. Research in mice shows magnolia bark can be effective in reducing pain caused by inflammation.

L-Theanine: the ‘wakeful relaxation’ enhancer

L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in tea leaves. I’m a fan of this supplement for its ability to improve sleep and promote relaxation without making you feel sleepy during the day. I wrote full rundown on the science and the potential benefits of L-theanine to sleep and health—read it here.

It’s benefits for sleep? L-theanine may help people fall asleep more quickly and easily at bedtime, thanks to the relaxation boost it delivers. Research also shows L-theanine can improve the quality of sleep—not by acting as a sedative, but by lowering anxiety.

L-theanine elevates levels of GABA, as well as serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and they work in the brain to regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness, and sleep, as well as appetite, and energy. Increasing levels of these calming brain chemicals not only helps sleep, but may provide relief for women experiencing mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and changes to appetite during menopause.

At the same time, it is increasing chemicals that promote feelings of calm, L-theanine also reduces levels of chemicals in the brain that are linked to stress and anxiety. This may also be a way that L-theanine can protect brain cells against stress and age-related damage. L-theanine has positive effects on both the mental and physical symptoms of stress, including lowering heart rate and blood pressure.

Under stress, the body increases production of certain hormones, including cortisol and corticosterone. These hormone changes inhibit some brain activity, including memory formation and spatial learning. L-theanine helps to lower levels of the stress hormonecorticosterone, and avoid the interference with memory and learning.

L-theanine may also play a more direct role in weight maintenance. There’s scientific evidence indicating L-theanine may help to limit fat accumulation and weight gain, and pay help to protect against obesity.

Magnesium: the vital-for-sleep-and-everything-else mineral

Magnesium is about as close as you can get to an all-around sleep and health supplement. Because of its role as an enabler of healthy enzyme function, magnesium plays an important part in most of our physiological functions. Check out the details on the whole spectrum of benefits magnesium can deliver.

Helpful to pre-menstrual women in relieving symptoms of PMS –including mood swings, irritability, anxiety and tension, and bloating – magnesium also can make a big difference to women in menopause. One of the seven essential macro-minerals that the human body needs in large quantities, maintaining healthy magnesium levels protect metabolic health, stabilize mood, keep stress in check, promote better sleep, and contribute to heart and bone health.

Magnesium deficiency is common, with nearly half of adult men and women in the United States are likely deficient in magnesium. Older adults are more vulnerable to magnesium deficiency. Women are also at higher risk for low magnesium, especially with age.

Keeping magnesium levels healthy can lead to deeper, more sound sleep. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people with poor sleep.

Supplemental magnesium has been shown to have a stabilizing effect on mood. This whole-health mineral has been shown effective in relieving symptoms of both mild-to-moderate anxiety and mild-to-moderate depression.

Magnesium plays a critical role in maintaining bone density. It helps the body effectively use the building blocks of strong bones, including the nutrients calcium and Vitamin D. The role of magnesium to bone health becomes increasingly important with age. Higher magnesium intake is linked to greater bone density in women. In postmenopausal women, magnesium has been shown to improve bone mass.

Another benefit for women in menopause, especially those with sleep problems and physical pain? Magnesium helps to relax muscles, and soothe muscle and joint pain.

5-HTP: the mood-and-sleep hormone elevator

This one has a funny sounding name, but it can do a lot for sleep as well as for mood, and to help regulate appetite.

5-Hydroxytryptophan—commonly known as 5-HTP—is a compound made naturally in the body. 5-HTP is created as a by-product of the amino acid L-tryptophan. Our bodies don’t make L-tryptophan naturally—we absorb this essential amino acid from the foods we eat. As we age, natural levels of 5-HTP appear to decline.

5-HTP helps the body to produce more serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating mood and sleep-wake cycles. Healthy levels of serotonin contribute to a positive mood and outlook and also promote restful sleep. Serotonin also plays an important role in many other of the body’s functions, including digestion, appetite, and pain perception.

Because of its role in creating serotonin, 5-HTP is indirectly involved in producing melatonin, a hormone that is critical for sleep.

Because of its serotonin-boosting capability, 5-HTP may also help with other conditions, including mood problems, stress, pain, and appetite control. Low serotonin may also trigger hot flashes—keeping serotonin levels up may help reduce a woman’s risk for hot flashes.

5-HTP has been shown in scientific studies to promote relaxation and alleviate stress and anxiety. Research also indicates 5-HTP may be effective in helping to alleviate depression.

5-HTP has been recognized as important to appetite regulation. Higher levels of serotonin are linked to diminished appetite. Keeping serotonin levels from dipping can help keep appetite in check, and may help reduce cravings for carbohydrates. As a serotonin booster, 5-HTP may help to suppress appetite. Research indicates that 5-HTP may be effective in helping people who are overweight or obese lose weight.

Scientific evidence shows 5-HTP may be able to reduce the frequency of migraine headache attacks and reduce pain from chronic headaches. Many women experience headache and migraine during menopause.

Want to learn more about 5-HTP? I wrote about this sleep-friendly supplement here.

Valerian and hops: the anti-stress, pro-sleep duo

These are two supplements often used together, and are well known for their sleep-improving abilities. Valerian and hops may help women in menopause by boosting levels of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood and boosts relaxation and sleep.

At least a dozen or more scientific studies have found valerian—used on its own or with hops—helps to improve sleep. Research shows that valerian can help people fall asleep more quickly, improve the quality of sleep, and increase amounts of nightly sleep. Valerian can also help ease the symptoms of insomnia. Studies specifically about women undergoing menopause show valerian is helpful to improving their sleep.

Research shows valerian can be effective in helping to reduce stress, lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Studies also show hops can be effective in reducing stress and anxiety.

A flavonoid in hops has also been found to help reduce weight gain, lower elevated cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar.

Want to know more about how valerian and hops affect sleep and health? Here you go.

CBD: the calming, sleep-promoting pain reliever 
I am asked all the time: how does cannabis help sleep and health?

The cannabis plant is filled with hundreds of different compounds, and many have been studied for decades for their health benefits. The cannabis compounds that scientists have paid the most attention to are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are now used in treatment for a broad—and growing—range of conditions and symptoms, from sleep and pain, to anxiety and inflammation, to Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

Cannabidiol—or CBD—is a cannabinoid that’s available in supplement form, and can help with stress and anxiety, pain, and sleep problems. Unlike medical cannabis, CBD is legal in all 50 states. Even if you live in a state where medical cannabis is currently not legal, you can still purchase and use CBD.

Let me be very clear: CBD is not “pot.” There is no “high” associated with CBD. (I’ll be writing more in-depth about the difference between CBD Instead, this compound has calming, anti-anxiety effects. CBD is a sleep promoter. Also of relevance for women in menopause, CBD works as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, as well as an analgesic—a pain reducer—in the body. (You can check out my full run-down on the science behind CBD here.)

CBD can reduce anxiety, making it effective in reducing sleep disruptions and improving sleep quality. CBD may improve insomnia, and increase overall sleep amounts. With its sleep-enhancing abilities combined with its power as an analgesic, CBD has been shown to reduce insomnia in people who suffer from chronic pain.

Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat nerves and anxiety, as well as other mood problems. CBD may help to improve both depression and anxiety, at least in part through its interactions with serotonin receptors in the brain. Research shows that CBD can reduce both mental and physical symptoms of anxiety.

Women who experience insomnia along with symptoms of anxiety or depression during menopause, as well as women who have aches and pains as a menopause symptom, may find relief from CBD.

Next, I’ll discuss other supplements that are used to treat menopause symptoms—and look at how they can affect sleep.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM
The Sleep Doctor

The post Sleep boosting supplements that also help with menopause appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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Many women I see in my practice have questions about hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. They wonder about the benefits versus the risks. And they want to know how HRT and other medications used for menopause symptoms might influence their sleep—for better or worse.

The decision to use HRT is a highly individualized one, a decision women should make in consultation with their physicians, and with consideration of their health and family medical history, age, where they are in the menopausal transition, the severity of their menopause symptoms and the effectiveness for them of non-hormonal therapies in relieving those symptoms. Here, I’ll talk about what the science says about the benefits and risks of HRT when used to treat symptoms of menopause, including sleep. I’ll also talk briefly about other medications used to treat the symptoms of menopause, and how they can affect your sleep.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

What is HRT?

Hormone replacement therapy is used to supplement the dwindling supply of the body’s own hormones, as production decreases during and after menopause. The most common hormones supplemented with HRT are estrogen and progesterone, though other hormones, including testosterone and DHEA, are also sometimes used in replacement form. Women who have their uterus intact take estrogen and progesterone together, to protect against uterine cancer. Women who’ve undergone hysterectomy can take estrogen alone.

What are the benefits and risks of HRT?

When considering whether hormone replacement is the right choice for treating menopause symptoms, both age and proximity to menopause are key factors. Scientific evidence has demonstrated that women get the greatest benefits, with the lowest risks, when HRT is used in menopausal women under age 60 or within 10 years of menopause. It’s also recommended that women use estrogen and progesterone replacement therapy for no more than 3-5 years. There’s evidence that a longer duration of use increases breast cancer risk. Women using replacement estrogen alone may be able to stay on this treatment for a longer period of time, as the increased risk of breast cancer does not appear to be a factor in estrogen-only HRT.

For women under the age of 60 and within 10 years of menopause, research shows estrogen replacement may have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health and bone health, and may reduce risk for diabetes. During this window of time, studies suggest hormone replacement therapy may also provide benefits to women’s cognitive health, and protections against neurodegenerative disease and cognitive decline. For women under 60 and within 10 years of menopause, risks associated with HRT include an increased risk of blood clot in the legs and lungs. And use of estrogen and progesterone for longer than 5 years is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Research released in 2017 contained some positive news about the overall safety of hormone replacement therapy for women in menopause. A study looked at more than 27,000 women who took HRT starting in the 1990s, and found no statistically significant difference in mortality for women who used HRT, compared to women who did not. The researchers looked at all-cause mortality, as well as specific mortality rates for cancer, cardiovascular disease and other major causes of mortality, and found no association between HRT use and higher rates of death for the women who used hormone replacement therapy.

HRT is not generally recommended in women who are older than 60, or who are more than 10 years beyond menopause, because of increased risks for cardiovascular disease as well as risks to cognitive health.

For women of all ages who are at elevated risk for blood clots, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer, HRT may not be a suitable treatment for relief from menopause symptoms.

What about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?

A number of the patients I see are interested in knowing more about bioidentical hormone therapy. They wonder, what are the differences between bioidentical hormone therapy and traditional hormone replacement therapy?

Bioidentical replacement hormones are made to be an exact bio-chemical match for a woman’s own natural hormones, often in a compounding pharmacy. Conventional hormone replacement products are made from synthetic versions of hormones, or from animal hormones. Bioidentical hormone replacements are not regulated by the FDA. Some scientists and other medical professionals express reservations about bioidentical hormones, specifically regarding variations in levels of dosing and the precision of the saliva testing that’s used in preparing women’s individual hormone compounds.

Most of the studies of the risks, effectiveness, and benefits of HRT for menopause symptoms have been done using conventionally-made replacement hormones. There is some research that’s focused specifically on bioidentical hormones for women in menopause that suggests these hormones can be effective at treating menopausal symptoms. Some reviews of research on bioidentical hormone replacement for menopause show that bioidentical estrogen and progesterone work effectively to improve menopause symptoms, and may carry fewer risks for cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and blood clots, compared to the conventional versions of these hormones. This is an important area of research that needs more attention, to provide women—and their doctors—with more comprehensive information about bioidentical hormones, their safety and effectiveness.

If you’re a woman considering bioidentical hormone replacement, talk with your physician about whether this form of HRT might be right for your individual needs.

Can HRT provide benefits to sleep for women in menopause? Research indicates it can. Low-dose hormone replacement therapy can improve sleep quality in women who have recently undergone menopause, according to recent research. Another new study also reported improvements to sleep quality in women who use HRT. Estrogen replacement has been shown to help women fall asleep faster, reduce their nighttime awakenings, strengthen their sleep cycles, and boost REM sleep—as well as improving cognitive function.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to whether HRT is the right treatment for women in menopause with uncomfortable, life-disrupting symptoms. I encourage my patients to consider HRT in consultation with their primary physicians as one of several options for relief from symptoms of menopause, including sleep disruption.

Other medications used for menopause symptoms

Let’s take a look at how these medications might affect sleep:

Low-dose anti-depressants, including SSRI medications. Low-dose antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to women in menopause to treat hot flashes and low mood—particularly women who can’t take estrogen replacement therapy. Antidepressants can have complex effects on sleep, even at low doses. Women may see an improvement to sleep. But antidepressants can lead to sleep disturbances, changes to sleep cycles, increases to REM sleep, and daytime fatigue or sleepiness. They also can aggravate existing sleep disorders, including restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and REM behavior disorder. Women who use these medications to treat menopause should be aware of any changes to their sleep patterns or sleep quality, and share those changes with their physicians.

Gabapentin. This medication, used to treat seizures, is also prescribed to women in menopause for hot flashes, especially women who can’t take supplemental estrogen. Research shows Gabapentin may help relieve insomnia, and increase amounts of slow-wave sleep. It also may lead to drowsiness and fatigue.

Clonidine. A blood pressure medication that’s also used to treat hyperactivity associated with ADHD, clonidine is sometimes used to treat hot flashes in menopausal women. Clonidine can induce sleepiness. There have been limited studies on clonidine’s effects on sleep. Research indicates it can alter sleep patterns and time spent in slow-wave and REM sleep. Clonidine is sometimes prescribed to treat insomnia and other sleep disturbances. I generally recommend looking for other, non-pharmacological improvements to address sleep, from lifestyle and behavioral changes, to mind-body treatments and natural supplements.

Next, I’ll talk about the natural supplements that women can use to help manage symptoms of menopause, including sleep problems.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM
The Sleep Doctor

The post Hormone Replacement Therapy and Other Medications for Menopause appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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The Sleep Doctor by Dr. Michael Breus - 4M ago

This week has been a fun one for sure. I was in NYC for a lecture and I can tell you I missed the sunny California weather! But I enjoy New York in the Winter, and I got to see some friends and enjoy the cheesecake at my favorite place Juniors (if you have never been, it is worth the splurge!).

Looking at the sleep research that was published this week there was a very interesting study that helps us understand a little bit more about Alzheimers than maybe we did before. Sleep and Alzheimer’s is a very complicated relationship. There are studies to show that poor sleep could lead to a tangling of proteins ( amyloid beta and tau) which is a known sign of AZ, while another study suggested that sleep disorders (insomnia or disrupted sleep) could be an early sign of Alzheimers. The most recent study (the one I read about this week) in that researchers have found that people who have disruptions in their circadian rhythms (but with NO SYMPTOMS of AZ) that this disruption could be an early sign of AZ (this is important because in some cases AZ symptoms might not show for 20+ years). Below are the conclusions as reported in Medical News Today:

However, 50 participants whose brain scans and spinal fluid tests revealed some preclinical signs of Alzheimer’s all had a disrupted sleep/wake cycle, which means that they rested more than normal during the day and less than normal during the night.

Overall, therefore, the people who had more disorderly circadian patterns — such as taking frequent naps during the day — were more likely to have preclinical signs of Alzheimer’s.

While this is very early research, and we cannot make the firm causal relationship between broken fragmented sleep and AZ, this is certainly something for us all to keep on our radar screens and remember to get good sleep.

In an interview with Sleep Review Magazine Bill Miller MD identified how our circadian rhythm is regulated by both our brain and our GUT! The article states:

Our gut microbiome has a surprisingly crucial influence on our circadian sleep-wake cycle and our sleep quality. Experiments confirm that when specific microbes in our gut are altered, our fundamental states of sleep are disrupted. This limits our ability to recover from stress and is necessary to protect against neurological diseases such as dementia.

This continuous feedback between our gut and brain significantly modulates our responses to stress. When that feedback is suboptimal, it begins a cycle that leads towards metabolic health disorders such as diabetes. Our sleep-wake cycle is part of this loop. Impaired sleep disrupts our metabolism and contributes to inflammatory states and metabolic diseases, which can, in turn, further disrupt our sleep. When our gut microbiome is off-balance our capacity to achieve restorative sleep is profoundly affected.

Here are four tips to start you on the path to a great night’s sleep:

-Our microbes have internal clocks, just as we do. We are at our best when we find our optimal personal method of synchronizing and adjusting to each other. In effect, if you feed your microbes well, they will treat you right.
-Stick to a firm eating schedule and limit fat content. Both of these factors can improve sleep quality. There is an added benefit. These measures help with weight management, which is also mediated by the gut microbiome.
-Keep calories the same, but make your meals smaller and more frequent. Studies show that this improves sleep quality and metabolic parameters such as blood glucose or serum lipid levels.
-Try adding either prebiotics or probiotics to your diet. These offer your microbial partners the nutrients they need.

These studies show the two-way relationship between Brain and Gut Health being critical for each other and sleep.

My most popular Facebook post this week: 12 Healthy Habits You Should Do at Night
My most popular Twitter post this week: Sleep Apnea During Menopause

Don’t forget to tune in Wednesday, Feb 7th, 7:30am PST, 10:30am EST, for my next Wake Up Wednesday where I answer YOUR most pressing sleep questions LIVE on Facebook.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael Breus, Ph.D
The Sleep Doctor

The post Eat Your Way to Better Sleep appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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Women’s health risks change in menopause, and so does sleep.

If you’re a woman in her 40s or 50s, you’ve probably given some thought to how perimenopause and menopause might affect your health. It’s a topic that comes up in conversation with my patients quite a bit.

Sleep affects every part of your life, and has an incredibly broad influence over your health. When thinking about the health risks that arise or change during menopause, it’s important to also think about sleep as a factor. Sleep can influence and be influenced by a woman’s health and other health conditions as she moves through menopause.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the health risks that can occur during menopause, and how sleep is involved.

Sleep disorders

Difficulty sleeping during menopause is what brings many women to my office. Even women who have slept soundly and well for years find themselves struggling in new ways with sleep during perimenopause and menopause. The decline of sleep-promoting hormones including estrogen and progesterone is one big reason for disrupted sleep. And the other symptoms of menopause—from mood swings and anxiety to night sweats—also contribute to sleep problems for women. Production of another critical hormone for sleep—melatonin—also decreases with age, which can compound sleep problems for women during menopause and beyond.

Research shows women’s risk for sleep disorders increases as she moves through the menopausal transition. Among my patients in perimenopause and menopause, I see three sleep disorders in particular occurring more frequently:

Insomnia becomes increasingly common for women during menopause—and I see it present different symptoms from one woman to another. Some women may have new difficulty falling asleep, often the result of stress, anxiety, and a racing mind. Many women find themselves waking more often in the night, a result of night sweats or needing to use the bathroom more often. I hear from many women in menopause that they wake very early in the morning, their minds leaping right into first gear, leaving them unable to fall back asleep. Any of these insomnia symptoms can result in starting the day feeling tired, unrefreshed, and unfocused.

Insomnia, especially when it is chronic, can do more than make you feel tired, fatigued, and irritable. Insomnia can
• Cause problems with memory, attention, learning ability, and other executive functions such as decision-making, planning, and judgment
• Raise risk for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and heart failure
• Elevate risk for type 2 diabetes

Restless leg syndrome
Women are about twice as likely as men to experience restless leg syndrome, or RLS. RLS becomes more common in women during pregnancy, when studies show as many as 30 percent or more women experience this uncomfortable sleep disorder, with its hallmark symptom of tingling, creepy-crawly sensations in the legs at night. (Most, but not all, pregnancy-related RLS ease after childbirth.)

Scientists haven’t yet clearly identified the role that women’s hormones play in RLS, or how menopausal changes influence RLS. We need more research in this area! We do know—and I see this in my own patients—women with RLS often tend to experience more severe symptoms of RLS in post-menopause. One study of RLS patients found 69 percent of post-menopausal women perceived their symptoms as worse than before menopause.

RLS can lead to significant daytime fatigue. Its unpleasant symptoms make it hard for people to fall asleep, compromising sleep quality and sleep quantity.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

For a long time, sleep apnea was thought of by many people—including some physicians—as a “men’s” sleep problem. Fortunately, that perception is changing, though we still have a way to go. It’s true that in the general population, obstructive sleep apnea occurs more often in men than in women. But women’s risk for sleep apnea increases significantly with the transition to menopause. Research shows post-menopausal women are at greater risk for OSA compared to pre-menopausal women. And they’re more likely to experience more severe sleep apnea. Weight gain that is associated with menopause is likely one factor in the increased risk—but there’s more to learn here about the connection between menopause and sleep apnea.

Just recently, this study caught my eye: research showed that night sweats and hot flashes may be linked to increased risk for sleep apnea. In this research, women who experience severe hot flashes and night sweats were found to have nearly twice the risk of obstructive sleep apnea than women with mild hot flashes, or none at all.

Most people know the symptom of sleep apnea as loud snoring and gasping. That’s true. But women may also experience other, less well-known symptoms of OSA, including headaches, insomnia, signs of depression or anxiety, and daytime fatigue. Men and women experience sleep apnea differently, and women’s symptoms may be somewhat subtler and harder to pinpoint than men’s. Not all women with OSA will show signs of the loud snoring and snorting during sleep—but even without this particular symptom, you may still be experiencing sleep disordered breathing that is sleep apnea. It’s important to be an advocate for yourself with your physician. If you have any of the symptoms I’ve mentioned above, share them with your doctor and ask your doc to look at OSA as a possible cause.

Metabolic disorders

I get a lot of questions from my patients who are in menopause about changes to their metabolism, and how they relate to sleep. Many worry about weight gain and its impact on quality of life, health, and sound sleep. Sleeping well is a powerful tool in managing weight and appetite throughout a woman’s life—including during menopause.

Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders become a greater risk for both men and women with age. The transition through menopause marks a time for women to pay particular attention to their metabolic health. Changes to appetite, energy levels, and physical activity, along with changes to metabolic functions that come with the decline in estrogen and other hormones, all can put women at higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. (What’s metabolic syndrome? A group of co-occurring conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased abdominal fat, high cholesterol and high triglycerides, which increase a person’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.)

Changing levels of estrogen are involved in a woman’s heightened risk for diabetes, obesity and other metabolic conditions in menopause. Estrogen:

• Helps the body manage fat storage and fat distribution. Declining estrogen in menopause can contribute to a woman gaining fat in her midsection—a risk factor for diabetes.

• Regulates hormones that control appetite and cravings. In perimenopause, levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin increase, a reason why many women find themselves frequently hungry during this phase. Levels of the hormone leptin, which promotes a sense of fullness, reduce throughout peri- and postmenopause.

• Appears to play a role in managing insulin, along with other hormones (including testosterone) that are affected by menopause. Lower estrogen and other hormones may lead to increased insulin resistance, leading to higher blood sugar.

The effect that sleep can have on protecting your metabolic health is pretty awesome. In addition to helping keep hunger hormones in check and giving you the restorative energy you need to be physically active, getting enough sleep can help keep insulin functioning well in the body. Sleep loss, on the other hand, can trigger insulin resistance. A 2015 study found that a single night of total sleep deprivation was as detrimental to insulin sensitivity as six months of eating a high-fat diet! Putting attention toward sleeping well during menopause can help guard against unhealthful, unwanted weight gain and keep your body’s metabolic system functioning well.


With menopause, a woman’s risk for osteoporosis increases. (Bone mass actually begins to decrease in women in their mid-30s, when most women are still in pre-menopause.) Estrogen helps to protect bone density in women, and declining estrogen makes women more vulnerable to bone loss, and lower bone density.

Does it surprise you to hear that your sleep can have an effect on your osteoporosis risk? A lot of my patients are pretty startled to hear that news. Research shows that poor sleep quality is linked to osteoporosis—specifically to an osteoporosis marker known as bone stiffness. Other research shows that having a sleep disorder—including obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia—can put a person at nearly three times the risk for osteoporosis. The connection between sleep disorders and osteoporosis risk is strongest among women and people over the age of 64. There are many reasons to focus on getting enough rest as you transition through menopause—protecting your bone health is one reason many women don’t know.

Cardiovascular disease

Estrogen plays a role in protecting women’s heart health. A woman’s risk for cardiovascular disease increases with age, and the loss of estrogen and other hormones appears to be a factor in that risk—along with other factors including genetics, diet, physical activity, and other health conditions. Estrogen works to keep blood vessels relaxed, supporting health circulation. When estrogen levels drop, blood vessels can lose elasticity and become stiff. In menopause, a woman’s risk for high blood pressure increases—as does her risk for high cholesterol. Estrogen also acts like an antioxidant in the body, and helps keep inflammation in check. Unhealthful inflammation is a contributor to heart disease.

Sleeping well is one great way to protect your heart health and guard against inflammation. Poor sleep is linked to:
High blood pressure
High cholesterol
• Increased risks for heart attack and stroke

Research shows women may be especially vulnerable to the impact of poor sleep on heart health, especially if she already has heart disease.

Autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases affect women at well more than twice the rate of men. Roughly 78 percent of all autoimmune cases occur in women, according to research. I see a number of patients in my practice for sleep issues related to autoimmune disorders, from multiple sclerosis to thyroid disorders to rheumatoid arthritis. What are autoimmune diseases? A group of diseases involving an abnormal immune response, when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. Sleep problems are a common symptom of autoimmune conditions. Body pain is another frequent symptom of autoimmune diseases—and chronic or recurring pain can make it difficult to get enough high-quality sleep. There’s research that indicates poor sleep can actually raise the risk for several autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

The relationship between autoimmune disease and menopause—how each might affect the other—is complex, and not yet well understood. Research indicates that during the menopausal transition, symptoms of some autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, may get worse, while other autoimmune diseases, including lupus and scleroderma, may improve. Given the degree to which these diseases affect women, it’s critical we know more about how women’s autoimmune health changes and is changed by menopause.

It’s important to remember, menopause isn’t a disease or a disorder: it’s a natural stage of life for women. It is also a time in women’s lives when their health risks change. Understanding the those new and different health risks can help women take the right steps to protect their well being through menopause and with age. Every woman’s particular risk factors will be different. But every woman can benefit from a focus on health sleep.

Next, I’ll talk about the treatments and therapies, including supplements, that may help women sleep and perform better during menopause.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM
The Sleep Doctor

The post Managing sleep and health in menopause appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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