Looking for the Big Sleep?

Posted by on Aug 27, 2010 in menopause, sleep disturbance | 0 comments

Those of you who are going through hormonal shifts, night sweats or hot flashes knows exactly what I’m talking about. Sleep. Sleep, the elusive gold ring that plagues many of us going through the transition. How many sheep have you counted this evening? Or last night? Or last week? Heck, I’m ready to start my own version of Farmville. Any takers?

Experts say that as many as 63% of postmenopausal women have insomnia. Frankly, I’m tired.

So, before you let another sleepless, toss and turn type of night go by, you might want to pay attention: isoflavones may just take away the awakenings that go bump in the your night. Say what?! Mind you, this is a very small study, enlisting only 38 menopausal women. However, I can dare to dream (or think about dreaming), can’t I? Participants were selected on the basis of their sleep complaints, meaning that they had to have difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or constantly experience nonrestorative, insufficient sleep to avoid fatigue and lack of alertness during the day.  They were given a lecture about sleep hygiene, menopausal symptoms and general healthcare and then had a general checkup, after which time, they were asked to take an 80 mg soy isoflavone (estrogen-like plant compounds tablet (containing mostly of a type of soy isoflavone called genistein) or a sugar tablet daily for four months. Thereafter,  they were assessed for sleeping habits, general complaints and any changes in their condition.

The researchers say that not only did use of isoflavones decrease the frequency of moderate and severe insomnia in the women studied by more than 60%, but they also increased sleep efficiency, that is, the degree of alertness the women felt the day following a night of sleep and their ability to perform everyday activities and feel good while doing it. They attribute  improved sleep patterns to a significant decline in the number and intensity of hot flashes.

There are several unanswered questions left by this information, such as whether or not soy will have this effect on a majority of women (remember, the study was small), how soy might affect lifelong insomniacs who also have menopausal symptoms, and if other soy compounds might provide equal benefits. I’d love to see more on this before drawing any conclusions. However, it’s good to know that eventually, tossing and turning might be a thing of the past.

Want more information on sleep and menopause? Check out these posts and please, share your experiences as well!

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