Women in the pre-menopause and menopause years are more and more finding themselves experiencing symptoms of chronic insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, migraine headaches, anxiety, fatigue and depression. Uzzi Reiss, M.D., author of Natural Hormone Balance for Women, says: “Some of the above reactions occur nearly simultaneously whenever the level of estrogen falls.”
Hormone drugs, nutritional remedies, and lifestyle changes are some of the options available to women. Consumer Affairs.com reports that while 70 percent of women entering menopause will have some symptoms, most symptoms can be managed with healthy lifestyle improvements. In their recent report, they do not recommend hormone drugs for women who have an elevated risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer – which is 35 to 50 percent of all women 50 and older.
As menopause approaches, another emerging link between estrogen decline and its symptoms is the aspect of mineral deficiency. Mildred Seeling, M.D. describes this in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. She says “Estrogen enhances magnesium utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone, and may explain the resistance of young women to heart disease and osteoporosis — as well as the increased prevalence of these diseases when estrogen production ceases.”
Magnesium works best when it’s balanced with calcium. The pioneering nutritionist Adelle Davis writes of mineral deficiency during menopause in her book “Let’s Get Well.” Davis says: “Calcium is less well absorbed and the urinary losses are greater when the output of estrogen decreases. Such calcium-deficiency symptoms as nervousness, irritability, insomnia, and headaches are common.”
Chronic insomnia is one of the main symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Sleep in magnesium deficiency is usually agitated with frequent nighttime awakenings. On the other hand, a high magnesium diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. This was shown in a study done by James Penland at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota.
Regarding the use of a sleep remedy for the relief of insomnia and other menopause symptoms, certain formulas may be more effective than others. The combination of minerals included and the presence of vitamin cofactors (such as vitamin D and K) in the product are key. Formulas should contain a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. The original research on this recommended ratio appeared in 1935 in the Journal of Physiological Reviews. In addition, a softgel form is more digestible than tablets. Softgels formulated with carrier oils such as evening primrose have been shown to increase mineral absorption, reduce calcium excretion, and increase bone density.
Natural insomnia remedies are gaining popularity with menopausal women. Adelle Davis says: “During the menopause… high amounts of calcium should be obtained and every step be taken to insure its absorption into the blood. When these precautions are taken and the diet is adequate in other respects, the woman at menopause usually loses her irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, leg cramps, insomnia, and mental depression.”
Consumer Reports advises that hormone drugs can increase the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, blood clots and stroke. An increasing number of women are turning to non-pharmaceutical remedies for insomnia. Highly absorbable forms of natural minerals can be a soothing alternative.