Hormonal insomnia can happen when your hormone levels fluctuate or change. Insomnia is common during pregnancy and menopause, but other hormones (like melatonin) affect sleep too.
Some hormones are closely associated with your sleep cycle, which means hormonal insomnia can affect anyone.
Hormonal changes — such as those that occur during pregnancy and menopause — can cause sleep disturbances. Other hormones, like the stress hormone cortisol, are also associated with sleep problems.
Keep reading to learn about the symptoms and causes of hormonal insomnia, which hormones can affect your sleep, and other important topics.
People with hormonal insomnia may experience:
Several factors can contribute to hormonal shifts that trigger insomnia.
As you enter perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause, your hormone levels begin to fluctuate dramatically. This can cause hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms that prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
In addition to hormonal changes, sleep disturbances during and after pregnancy can be caused by:
Thyroid diseases frequently cause other symptoms that can mess with your sleep cycle, too, such as:
- mood shifts and changes
- muscle tremors
Long-term (chronic) stress can affect the levels of many hormones in your body, disrupting your sleep and causing a variety of other complications, like:
Several hormones affect your sleep cycle in different ways. Here’s how this happens.
Melatonin, often called the sleep hormone, signals your brain that it’s time to sleep. It’s released in your blood in response to darkness.
Melatonin production goes down as we age, which is one of the reasons why older people often experience insomnia.
Cortisol is sometimes known as the stress hormone. It’s released when you experience stress or anxiety. High levels of this hormone in your blood can prevent you from falling or staying asleep.
Learn more about how cortisol can affect your sleep.
Estrogen and progesterone
Although people of all sexes have estrogen and progesterone in their bodies, cisgender females have especially high levels. According to 2020 research, these hormones are involved in sleep regulation, although how isn’t well understood.
Your levels of estrogen and progesterone go up during pregnancy and down during menopause. These natural hormonal fluctuations can affect your sleep quality.
There are several ways a healthcare professional may recommend treating hormonal insomnia:
- Lifestyle changes: Practicing good sleep hygiene can help improve your sleep quality overall. For example, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding electronics and caffeine before bed.
- Natural remedies: Supplements such as melatonin may help you fall asleep easier. Contact a doctor to discuss which supplements are safe for you and what the ideal dosage would be.
- Behavior therapies: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other types of psychotherapy can effectively teach you coping skills to help with sleeping better.
- Medications: In some cases, your doctor may recommend prescription sleep drugs.
Be sure to contact a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of insomnia.
A healthcare professional can help you figure out whether it’s related to a hormonal imbalance or something else. They can also recommend appropriate treatments.
Insomnia has many potential causes besides hormonal imbalances, including certain health conditions. Your doctor can order bloodwork to measure your hormone levels and rule out anything else that may suggest another medical condition.
Hormonal insomnia can affect anyone. It can be due to pregnancy, menopause, thyroid conditions, and stress.
Hormones that are most likely to affect your sleep patterns include melatonin, cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone.
Be sure to let a doctor know if you experience symptoms of insomnia. They can help you identify the cause and find an effective treatment plan.