9 Sleep Solutions in Perimenopause & Beyond

9 sleep solutions in perimenopause
Sleep solutions in perimenopause.
If perimenopause is wreaking havoc on your sleep, it may be tempting to resort to over-the-counter sleep aids (most contain antihistamines) or prescription medications. 

But these don’t treat the root cause of insomnia and may lead to dependency. Over time, they work less effectively, which means you need higher and higher doses to do the job. As someone who’s been there and done that, I don’t recommend this approach. Get to the root of the problem. The most common root causes of insomnia in perimenopause and menopause are STRESS, low progesterone, low estrogen, high cortisol, and thyroid problems. 

STRESS is capitalized for a reason….there is no amount of supplementation that can fix a lifestyle that is desperately in need of a reset.

Supplements can help you sleep, but before you head to Whole Foods to create your own cocktail, please read my guidance in Chapter 9 of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony and consider consulting with a professional about correct dosages and what core issue you’re managing.


Magnesium is an essential mineral, one of seven essential macro-minerals that your body needs in large quantities. Unfortunately, the body does not produce magnesium, so it needs to come from outside sources.  Common among adults, magnesium deficiency leads to restless sleep and frequent waking during the night. I can personally say that magnesium has made a huge difference in my sleep. Maintaining healthy levels of this mineral often leads to deeper, more sound sleep because it helps maintain healthy levels of GABA. 


Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in your central nervous system; your body’s natural “off” switch. GABA slows nerve activity in your brain, which leads to feelings of calm and relaxation. Research has shown favorable results using GABA supplementation. In one study, an amino acid preparation containing both GABA and 5-HTP, which your body produces from the amino acid tryptophan, reduced time to fall asleep, increased the duration of sleep and improved sleep quality. My preference is to use a liposomal form of this that also includes l-theanine.


Taurine is an amino acid that reduces cortisol levels and increases the production of GABA. Try taking 500 mg before bed. Using magnesium taurate allows you to get both magnesium and taurine with a single pill.


Studies suggest that passionflower may be just as effective as medications for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It’s common to see it combined with other calming herbs such as valerian root and lemon balm, chamomile, hops, kava, and skullcap in herbal sleep blends. Because passionflower may help lower blood pressure, be careful when using this herb with blood pressure medications.

Valerian root

According to various studies, valerian reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves sleep quality, so if you can’t sleep, it may be just what you’re looking for. Unlike many prescription sleeping pills, valerian has fewer side effects and is a lot less likely to result in morning drowsiness.

Lemon balm

Research is validating the benefits of lemon balm as an anti-anxiety/sleep supplement. A study of brainwaves showed that lemon balm was useful in reducing anxiety. In a separate two to four-week study, taking two doses of 300 mg lemon balm extract helped reduce anxiety by up to 15% to 18% in 20 participants. This same study showed that lemon balm could reduce insomnia by up to 42%.

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Adaptogenic herbs

Adaptogens increase the capacity of the body to adapt to stress and increase disease resistance. They don’t work on a specific body organ but have a “normalizing” effect on imbalances caused by physical or emotional stress. Ashwagandha is an herb that has been shown to increase energy and mental alertness during the day that has also been shown in research to help you sleep better at night. It can be taken alone (400 mg) or in a blend with other adaptogens. If you are sensitive to nightshades, be aware that ashwagandha is in this family.


Melatonin is a hormone that tells your body when it is time to head to bed. When it is dark outside, your melatonin levels start to rise, signaling your body that it is time to sleep. As melatonin helps your body prepare for sleep, people who don’t make enough of it at night can struggle to fall asleep. It is a popular supplement for sleep. Long-term chronic use can decrease the body’s natural ability to produce it, so it should be used short-term. I generally recommend starting with 0.5-1 milligram about 30 minutes before bedtime.

Essential oils

The essential oils of certain herbs can work wonders when it comes to de-stressing and getting to sleep. Essential oils of lavender and roman chamomile are popular for their calming properties, but less flowery options like marjoram, cedarwood, and bergamot also offer sleep benefits. Oils can be inhaled, diffused, or used on the bottoms of your feet (dilute in a carrier oil such as almond oil or unfractionated coconut oil). Never take oils internally unless you are working with an aromatherapy specialist.

Sleep solutions for special situations

Some supplements are indicated when you KNOW that you have a specific problem. 

  • If your cortisol rises at night, phosphatidylserine may be what you need. 
  • When your progesterone is low, you may need to supplement this. Oral progesterone is calming, and the breakdown of it in your body creates a metabolite that makes you drowsy.
  • Low estrogen can cause insomnia, and replacement of this can make a big difference.

A DUTCH test will show all of these situations.

I get a lot of questions about my own personal “sleep potion.” It includes 240 mg of magnesium glycinate, 200 mg of l-theanine, 100 mg of 5-HTP, and two capsules of ACTS (an adaptogen blend). What works for me may not work for you, so consider consulting with a professional about what products to try and determine the core issue you are dealing with.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Dr. Anna is the author of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony. Order your copy at www.perimenopausebook.com.

Dr. Anna is available for 1-1 consultation. Find out more at www.drannagarrett.com/lets-talk.

Get Chapter 1 of Dr. Anna’s Book—Free!

Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony

This book gives you the tools you need to navigate this transition without losing your mind or your mojo.

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