Posts Tagged "Sleep"

Got Sleep? Zeo Personal Sleep Coach helps with those Zzzz’s. Want one?

Posted by on Oct 8, 2010 in sleep disturbance | 4 comments

Did you know that sleep problems have been reported in as many as 40% of women in the late perimenopausal stage and as many as 35% to 50% of women in postmenopause? The culprit? In addition to vasomotor symptoms, i.e. hot flashes and night sweats) lower estradiol and fallopian stimulating hormone levels can interfere with both falling and staying asleep. Add stress, emotional arousal, environment and alcohol or caffeine to the mix and you’ve got a woman on the verge. Personally? My sleep stinks; I wake up several times a night and regularly early in the morning, even though I rarely have trouble falling asleep. In fact, I don’t recall the last time I slept through the entire night.

So, how can I get more of those much needed Zzzzs? Well, I am hoping that Zeo can help.

Zeo is a home-based tool that uses SoftWave™ technology to track sleep patterns. The Zeo system is geared towards helping individuals understand how they are sleeping so that they can address factors (e.g. diet, stress, or environment) that may be profoundly hindering or interfering with their sleep.

Zeo collects information that summarizes the previous night’s sleep, including time spent in each sleep phase (i.e. light, deep and REM sleep), total time asleep, time it takes to fall asleep, and number of times awakened during the night, and displays it in a graph at bedside monitor.This information can then be uploaded so that sleep patterns can be tracked and trended along with individualized input about environmental and social factors that might disrupt sleep from night to night. Zeo also includes personalized sleep coaching. As the company says, the power of Zeo lies in its personalization, so that you can scientifically track your sleep phases and correlate them to the impact that daily habits have on your sleep. What’s more, I have looked at the scientific studies and the technology it uses to track your sleep not only favorably compares with what experts consider the gold standard for measuring sleep (polysomnography) but also does so in a range of healthy and “disordered” sleepers.

I’ve used Zeo for two nights so far. And guess what? It’s telling me that the fatigue I’ve been feeling is truly due to the fact that I’m not getting the restful sleep that I need. So, I am going to collect six nights of sleep information to create a foundation or baseline of my sleep pattern, and then undergo the Personal Sleep Program to see what I can change to optimize my sleep health.

I met a Zeo, Inc co-founder at last week’s epatient conference and after a conversation regarding sleep and menopause, he graciously sent me two units to share with my readers. I’ve given one of these units to a reader who is an insomniac and who is perimenopausal. But I’d like to give another Zeo to you. Here’s how:

Tell me in the comments section about your general sleep and how your symptoms or habits might be affecting it, along with steps you’ve taken or not taken to deal with the problem.  The caveat? You must be experiencing some sort of menopausal symptoms or be in menopause and be willing to share your experience (anonymously) on Flashfree after a month’s use.  If I get enough comments, I will  randomly choose one winner to receive a Zeo Personal Sleep Coach monitor. What’s to lose? How about one more night’s sleep?!

[Disclosure: Zeo, Inc. provided me with three Zeo Personal Sleep Coach monitors – one via the epatient conference and two directly. Although this post was neither paid for or solicited by the company, I have eagerly agreed to write a post on menopause and sleep for their blog.]

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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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Wednesday Bubble: An ‘Evolutionary’ not ‘Revolutionary’ Rx for Hot Flashes?

Posted by on Jun 23, 2010 in menopause, new approaches | 2 comments

This week’s bubble brought to you by the manufacturers of Amberen™, a new menopausal treatment that bills itself as revolutionary not evolutionary. What they mean by this is that Amberen, a novel, non-hormal treatment for menopausal symptoms, does not represent an evolution of the same herbs (e.g. black cohosh, chaste berry) used by other manufacturers but a revolutionary new approach and strategy to addressing troublesome symptoms during menopause. Personally, I believe that anything that isn’t HRT based is evolutionary, however that aside, this week’s bubble is pretty darn solid and early data, pretty encouraging!

What is Amberen?

Amberen is a food supplement mostly composed of an enzyme known as succinate that is involved in metabolism. Dramatic swings in estrogen that result during menopause significantly affect the sensitive functioning of the  hypothalamic-pituitary-ovary (HPO) axis (part of the neuroendocrine system that regulates many processes in the body, including interactions between the glands and hormones).  According to published research, very small doses of succinate help to restore the way that the aging HPO axis functions, thereby promoting hormonal balance. In turn, this appears to boost estradiol levels and alleviate menopausal symptoms.

In small clinical studies, Amberen appeared to act as hormones in the body, resulting in self-reported reductions in the frequency of hot flashes, declines in insomnia and headache, and improvements in mood, anxiety and impaired sexual desire. Honestly, it sounds a bit too good to be true, so I am not entirely convinced. However, the researchers are quoted as saying that this approach to jump-starting HPO sensitivity could open the way for safer treatments for a variety of conditions, and not just menopause.

Amberen is not for everyone as it is not inexpensive, requiring at least a $90 commitment upfront (although there is an offer on the website for a 30 day free trial, a further dive shows that it takes at least 90 days to realize its full effects). However a three month on, three month off dosing schedule might be more convenient for women who have trouble remembering to take pills regularly.

Importantly, I did not see any reported details on side effects in the clinical studies I looked at, although the website cautions against women using Amberen if they have any thyroid or high blood pressure issues. I”d like to see more information on that as well.

Like any treatment for menopause, it’s essential to speak to your healthcare professional before diving in and trying Amberen. Personally, I’d like to see larger studies and specific information on side effects before making any real commitment to the product. However, I am intrigued by Amberen’s potential and certainly by this new approach to treatment, a seemingly viable and effective alternative to hormone replacement.

Have you tried Amberen? What do you think?

[Disclosure – I was approached by Amberen’s PR agency to see if I’d be interested in the product. After requesting and reviewing the clinical studies, I decided to write about it. I was not compensated for this piece nor was I sent or accepted any product.]

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Is your mattress the ‘key to cool’?

Posted by on May 14, 2010 in nightsweats | 3 comments

Hot flashes? Night sweats? I’ve written about various solutions, ranging from herbs to bed clothes and sheets. But I was intrigued when I ran across an article about a mattress manufacturer that claims that its mattress will keep you cooler without the all the trappings…as in, trapping the heat that is wafting off your body without circulating it properly.

According to Robin McRoskey Azevedo, the president of McRoskey mattresses, the ‘key to cool’ is in the way a mattress is constructed and the materials that are used. Consequently, theoretically, air circulates freely, cotton covers and materials breathe and vented sidewalls and flexible coils allow for better airflow.

Even the customer testimonials sound convincing.

There is a price to comfort, however, as McRoskey sets (mattress plus boxspring) can run upwards of $5,000. Lots of moula to insure better comfort during sleep.

There’s nothing better than a phenomenal mattress. I believe in making the investment because better mattresses do last. However, I’m not entirely convinced that the key to a cooler sleep is a better mattress. Rather, it seems that appropriate herbs (like black cohosh), great sheets, and proper bed clothes can make a huge difference without denting your wallet quite as deeply.

What do you think is the key to cool?

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She’s hot. She’s cool…

Posted by on Feb 1, 2010 in herbal medicine, hot flash | 0 comments

St. John’s Wort can cool down those hot flashes?! Yes, you may want to pay attention as a new study appearing in the February issue of Menopause, may help to cool those hot flashes.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you may recall that I wrote previously about St. John’s Wort and its potential role for improving quality of life, sleep disturbances and hot flashes. The latest bit of information suggests that daily use of St. John’s Wort extract among menopausal women resulted in significant declines in the number of daily hot flashes by as much as 50% through eight weeks of treatment compared to women taking only placebo. Daily St. John’s Wort also reduced both the length of time that flashes lasted as well as their severity. At the start of the study, women were experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes at least once daily. Importantly, women taking placebo also experienced declines in hot flash frequency, although not to the same extent as those taking St. John’s Wort.

What you should know…

St. John’s Wort, while generally considered safe, should be used cautiously. As I wrote last year, experts recommend against taking St. John’s Wort at the same time as alcohol, narcotics, amphetamines, tyrosine supplements, flu medicines and foods containing tyramine (e.g. yeast, aged cheese, eggplant, soy sauce). St. John’s Wort can also interact with prescription antidepressants, oral contraceptives and certain medications that thin the blood. More information about St. John’s Wort, its side effects and risks can be found here.

As with any herbal preparation, it’s critical to speak to a healthcare practitioner before embarking on therapy.

For more information on this study, as well as some comments by the researchers, check out Reuters Health’s coverage of the same study.

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