Healthy Sleep and Rest

Healthy Sleep and Rest

Written by Gina Besteman, RPh, & Michelle Violi, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

One of the more common symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause that patients complain of is difficulty sleeping. There is a significant amount of research showing how hormones affect healthy sleep. healthy sleep

Progesterone affects GABA receptors which are responsible for non-REM sleep, the deepest of the sleep stages. Progesterone also affects breathing. It’s been shown to be a respiratory stimulant and has been used to treat mild obstructive sleep apnea.

The role of estrogen in sleep appears to be more complicated than that of progesterone. Estrogen is involved in breaking down norepinephrine, serotonin, and acetylcholine in the body. It has also been shown to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, decrease the number of awakenings after sleep occurs, and increase total sleep time. Low estrogen levels may lead to hot flashes, which can also affect sleep.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It normally peaks in the early morning followed by a slow decline throughout the day and night. However, chronic stress can alter healthy cortisol production and lead to sleep problems if cortisol is low in the morning and increased in the evening and at night.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Normally, melatonin levels begin to increase in the mid to late evening, remain elevated throughout the night and drop in the morning. In general, melatonin levels decrease with age and melatonin production can be shut off by bright light. If melatonin levels are disrupted, sleep may be disrupted as well.

In addition to hormones, sleep can be affected by a number of external factors. It is important to maintain proper sleep hygiene as follows:

  • Avoid napping during the day
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime
  • Exercise can promote good sleep, but avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime
  • Food can be disruptive right before sleep
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day
  • Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine
  • Associate your bed with sleep
  • Make sure that the sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing and free from light pollution, e.g., lighted alarm clock faces, street lights through open windows, and cell phones/tablet devices
  • Eichling PS. Evaluating and Treating Menopausal Sleep Problems. Menopause Management. Sept/Oct 2002.
Healthy Sleep and Rest 2017-12-14T15:01:55+00:00

A New Treatment Program to Improve Memory Loss

A New Treatment Program to Improve Memory Loss

Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

In spite of hundreds of clinical trials over the past ten years, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has no effective treatment. AD affects 5.4 million Americans, predominately females. It is estimated that women have a greater chance of developing AD than breast cancer.

Research supports the theory that an imbalance in brain nerve cell signals causes this disorder. Specific signals make nerve connections to cement memories while others allow irrelevant memories to be lost. This signaling system becomes imbalanced so that new memory connections are inhibited while more information is forgotten. Reversible metabolic processes may be involved in the early stages of AD.

Dr. Bredeson and his colleagues at UCLA believe that a comprehensive, personalized approach is the best way to treat memory loss. They have developed a program that optimizes diet (no simple carbohydrates, gluten, or processed foods), utilizes meditation and yoga, and emphasizes the importance of sleep, hormones, good oral health, and exercise. Patients may use supplements as well as medium chain triglycerides like coconut oil or Axona.

The researchers believe that free T3 and T4, estradiol, testosterone, progesterone, pregnenolone, and cortisol need to be optimized. Nine out of ten patients in this pilot program had cognitive improvement.

Additional Resources:

For more resources from Women’s International Pharmacy, see our Mental Health Resources page.

A New Treatment Program to Improve Memory Loss 2018-04-04T15:44:16+00:00

Can Melatonin Reduce the Symptoms of Stress-related Tinnitus?

Can Melatonin Reduce the Symptoms of Stress-related Tinnitus?

Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

 

A study of 344 patients with tinnitus demonstrated that elevated stress hormones, as well as a break-down product of serotonin, appear to be related to tinnitus. Melatonin is thought to reduce these fight-or-flight stress hormones, while increasing blood flow and regulating inner ear immunity.

One study found that melatonin decreased the severity of tinnitus while improving sleep quality. A second study demonstrated that melatonin reduced subjective symptoms by 40%. In both studies, a 3mg dose was given daily over a 30-day period.

While there is no FDA-approved medication indicated for the treatment of tinnitus, there are several drugs in development. In the meantime, bioidentical melatonin may be worth trying to reduce tinnitus symptoms.

Methylcobalamin (MeB12) may actually assist in detoxifying inorganic mercury in the body. Related research is ongoing and we will be keeping a close eye on the results.

Can Melatonin Reduce the Symptoms of Stress-related Tinnitus? 2018-04-03T17:14:16+00:00

Oral Progesterone Improves Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Oral Progesterone Improves Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

 

A recent study supports the common belief that oral progesterone helps with post-menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. The study included 133 healthy women, ages 44 to 62, who received either 300 mg oral progesterone or a placebo for a twelve-week trial period.

The women who took progesterone described significant decreases in the frequency and severity of both day and night-time vasomotor symptoms. In addition, they reported significant improvement in their sleep quality.

  • Hitchcock CL, Prior JC. Oral micronized progesterone for vasomotor symptoms-a placebo-controlled randomized trial in healthy postmenopausal women.
    2012 Aug;19(8):886-93. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318247f07a.
Oral Progesterone Improves Hot Flashes and Night Sweats 2018-04-05T12:22:10+00:00