I have always been a champion sleeper. Sleep came easy for me. For most of my life I fell asleep within minutes of lying down; but thanks to menopause, that changed. At least I thought it was menopause, because now I’m not so sure.
Here’s why I thought it was menopause. Just about the same time I began to have hot flashes, I began to lose sleep. I tried to go to sleep at 11 p.m., my usual bedtime. I tossed and turned until about 12:30 a.m. or later, then fell asleep and woke up around 4-5 a.m. If I had the time, I ate breakfast and then slept until noon. It wasn’t a good schedule, even for a teenager—let alone a woman in her 50s. I was sleepy at all hours just not at night.
I Tried Everything
I read everything I could get my hands on about sleeping. I got really good about setting and keeping a schedule. Eleven to seven was the norm that I aspired to keep.
Chuck is a restless sleeper, so we got twin beds. He is a light snorer, so I got a sound machine. We don’t allow the cat to come into the bedroom at night. I made sure to never work on the computer after 10 p.m.
I even tried counting sheep; but after all the changes, I still couldn’t sleep.
So I began hormone replacement therapy. Premarin worked like a charm, and that is why I was sure it was hormone related. I had had a partial hysterectomy so I never had to replace the lost Progesterone. I did, however, on my own take bio-identical Progesterone; but never did I take the synthetic version. Thank goodness for that, because we’ve since learned it can be a real problem.
Finally, though, I wanted off the Premarin after about six years. I gradually weaned myself, and that was when the hot flashes and sleeplessness came roaring back and hit me like a ton of bricks.
Next, I tried bioidentical estrogen and progesterone. The hot flashes disappeared, but not entirely the sleeplessness. I was sleeping better, but I would still have a bad night from time to time. The next time I saw my doctor, we discussed it.
My Doctor Helped Me Find a Solution
Notice that I said “a solution”. I believe it may be different for each of us. My doctor put me through a whole bank of blood tests. If your body makes it, I’m sure I was tested for it. Nothing jumped out, but my doctor had been doing some reading of his own.
He suggested three supplements—250-500 mg of Magnesium Citrate, 25 mg of Zinc and 3-6 mg of Melatonin. He said to take this each day for a month and to come back if I still had trouble sleeping.
The result? I never had to go back. It only took me about three weeks, and I began to sleep well. It was like old times. I am still on the bio-identicals too.
I still struggle to get eight whole hours, but I get seven easily. Nine times out of ten it is my own fault for getting less than eight. I stay up late working, and then I get up early the next day because of work. I just need to cut back on work and relax more. After all, I am retired.
I once read that menopause will make you learn to be patient with your body. This is so true, but patience does not come easily to the women in my family. I am no exception.