Sleep Problems During Menopause

June 24, 2023

Almost every client we meet with who wants to discuss perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms mentions that the amount and the quality of sleep have gone in the tank as soon as those hormones started changing. If you don’t feel rested in the morning after being in bed for 7-8 hours and you are between 35 to 55 when perimenopause and menopause takes place, this show is for you! We’ll go over nutritional solutions plus a couple practical sleep hygiene tips to help eliminate your tossing, turning, anxious thoughts, and night sweat episodes for more deep and restorative sleep despite the hormonal changes.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We are a company specializing in life-changing nutrition education and counseling. I'm Melanie Beasley, a Licensed and Registered Dietitian, and I see clients in person and via Zoom in the Eagan office, which is always a lot of fun. And I also teach many of our classes.

BRITNI: And I'm Britni Vincent, also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. I office out of our St. Paul location. And like Melanie, I see clients via Zoom as well. And I love the teaching aspect and facilitating and being able to just educate a larger audience. It's a really enjoyable part of my job. And I think people, especially nowadays, are really wanting this science-based nutrition education; especially, I mean, there's just so much misinformation out there and it's really hard to weed through it all and know what's correct and what's false.

MELANIE: Yes. If you're on TikTok, if you're on Facebook, if you're on any platform, you're getting nutrition information.


MELANIE: So there's a lot of noise out there.

BRITNI: There is for sure.

MELANIE: Well, our topic today is going to resonate with a lot of women. Britni and I are going to talk about sleep problems during menopause, which we hear about from many of our clients, don't we Britni?

BRITNI: Daily.

MELANIE: I think that's maybe number one.

BRITNI: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think almost every client I meet who we discuss perimenopause or menopausal symptoms mentions the amount of sleep they're getting or the poor quality of sleep that they're getting. And how that's just goes into the tank once you go through those hormonal changes.

MELANIE: Yes. And that's the time we really need sleep.

BRITNI: Yeah, for sure. Cause there's a lot going on at that, that stage of your life. And a lot of people complain about something that's called surface sleeping, which really just basically means you're sleeping, but you're not really getting into that deep restorative sleep that your body really, really craves and needs. And so you're probably waking up multiple times a night and maybe you're able to fall right back asleep, but still you're not getting that restorative sleep and therefore not feeling rested in the morning.

MELANIE: You just don't feel like yourself.


MELANIE: You're trying to white knuckle it through the day.


Some facts about menopause

MELANIE: It's, it's pretty miserable. I think there's many listeners out there that are shaking their heads yes right now. Well, the average woman will go through menopause at age 52, but it can really vary from person to person. On average, menopause usually occurs when women are between the ages of 45 and 55.

If you are curious about what the exact definition of menopause is, it's when a woman stops having a menstrual cycle for a full 12 months in a row. And up until that point you might notice irregular periods with maybe longer or shorter cycles and more or less bleeding. And the timeframe leading up to menopause is called perimenopause. And that really can happen anywhere from seven to 10-ish years prior to menopause. So it's really a long a long stage.

Suffering doesn’t have to happen through menopause

MELANIE: It's a long stage. And in general, perimenopause and menopause are health topics where we see a lot of misinformation going around, especially again, online. The biggest misconception about uncomfortable menopause symptoms is that they are an inevitable part of aging. Well, we are here to tell you ladies, this does not have to be a part of your story. I mean, it's true that hormones do start to shift and change and that part of it is inevitable, but the suffering through does not have to happen.

BRITNI: No, it does not.

MELANIE: Suffering; that being, that being the main term. We don't have to.


MELANIE: We don't have to have a plate of that.

We have recommendations for all hormonal shifts in life

BRITNI: No, definitely not. You know, I'm not in the perimenopause years yet. I've witnessed many women go through it. But, you know, I can say firsthand going through other big hormonal shifts in my life, like puberty of course many years ago and pregnancies, you know, things change. And even those hormonal changes have led me to adjusting some things in my lifestyle to, to improve my sleeping patterns.

MELANIE: So would you say when you're, when you're saying that you've adjusted over time, that really the story remains the same about nutrition?

BRITNI: Oh yeah.

MELANIE: And hormonal shift.

BRITNI: Oh, for sure.

MELANIE: Wherever you are.

BRITNI: Oh, yep. Yep.

MELANIE: Okay. Yeah.

BRITNI: I mean, and I think at different stages of hormonal shifts, you might need to tweak things to continue to, to keep that sleep really good. I mean, during both of my pregnancies I had insomnia, which is not uncommon during pregnancy. So I'd be up for a couple, few hours during the night just wide awake.

MELANIE: Oh my gosh.

BRTINI: It's awful. But you know, I was able to modify things like, normally I don't need a bedtime snack to have good restorative sleep, but during that point in my life I did. I was eating more of those bedtime snacks and that would help keep me asleep. Cause sometimes I'd wake up in the middle of the night hungry. I needed more magnesium…

MELANIE: Listeners she was pregnant with twins.


MELANIE: So I'll bet you are, hunger was your job description.

BRITNI: Oh yeah. Yeah. And breastfeeding too. That's another hormonal stage of life where things can change and sleep is disturbed for other reasons, but the hormones can also play a role in that too.

MELANIE: So this what the advice that we're giving you listeners, it really across the board helps with any hormonal shift.

BRITNI: Mm-Hmm. You know, and I've, I try to remind my clients that too. You know, as we get older, it's just, or again, during any point of our life where things are shifting, it's important to listen to our body’s natural rhythms and changes. And when it comes to exercise, eating, managing stress, and of course sleep, it's, it's a continual process to optimize our health.

MELANIE: Yes. And when we optimize our health and start prioritizing these things, then the rest of life is easier.


MELANIE: But a lot of times I think we, you know, listeners and women will push themselves to the bottom of the pile. And then they have these hormonal shifts and then they're trying to manage a career, life, children.

BRITNI: Yeah. It does not feel well.

MELANIE: Well, Britni, I'm a little ahead of you with those hormonal shifts. I'm definitely in menopausal years, and I went through it at 40 after breast cancer, went through dramatic menopause, and I wish I knew what I knew now. I had to really make some changes to support those hormonal changes in the menopause years. One of them was to put less focus on high impact cardio exercises, which I did, I've done my entire life and focus more on strength training and building muscle. And it is critical to maintain and build muscle as we age since muscle starts naturally declining at, at about the age of 35, unless we do something about keeping that muscle. We have to really focus.

BRITNI: Yeah. Which is really nutrition and exercise: the combination of the two.


BRITNI: And you know, Mel, didn't you used to have really terrible hot flashes and night sweats too?

MELANIE: Oh, I, I think I lived 10 years and I was hot and not in a, not in a great sense. It's just temperature hot. Oh my gosh. My hot flashes were probably about every 20 minutes for 10 years. And I lived in cotton clothes that I could pull off rapidly. Living in Minnesota many of the time, my family would find me plastered up against the slider doors in a tank top in February. So, yeah.

BRITNI: You do what you got to do.

MELANIE: You do what you got to do. It's the hottest I've ever been in my life because it's an internal heat.


MELANIE: So there's a lot of listeners out there that know what I'm saying. But anyway, it kept me tossing and turning. I had insomnia. I did not know this connection of high and low blood sugars and what would lead to hot flashing. I wish I would've known because wow, it can make a huge difference in your comfortability.

BRITNI: Mm-Hmm. Well, and that's why we're here today. Listeners, are you in that age range where your hormones have started changing? And I'm sure a lot of you listeners can really relate to Melanie's story. Balancing that blood sugar or glucose levels is just one of the many tips that we'll be sharing today to help get you more sound sleep, and just helping you stay asleep longer as well if you tend to wake up early and just having issues falling back asleep. I hear that a lot too.

MELANIE: A lot. Even the National Sleep Foundation gave a poll in 2022, and 60% of women in America said they only get a good night's sleep less than half of the time: 60%.

BRITNI: Yikes.

MELANIE: Almost 70% said they frequently experienced sleep problems. And those in perimenopause or menopause were the ones who reported the most problems sleeping. But it's time for our commercial break.

BRITNI: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and today we are talking about how to get a deeper, more restful sleep and how to sleep longer, even during those challenging perimenopause and menopausal years. So think about the last time you were tossing and turning, turning, feeling hot and anxious, staring at the clock, counting the hours until your alarm would go off. I mean, that just increases the stress right there.


Practical sleep hygiene tips

BRITNI: It's stressful. It's anxiety provoking. So frustrating. Most of our tips today are nutritional solutions, but there are definitely some practical sleep hygiene tips as well. It's not a bad idea to have several solutions in your sleep toolbox because the answer just varies from person to person.

So if you are prone to night sweats, keep the thermostat in your bedroom to 65 degrees or even lower. Now to get a restorative sleep, our body temperature needs to reduce by about two degrees during sleep. So some women also like to have a small fan in their bedroom to help circulate that air, especially in the hot summer months. And definitely if you don't have air conditioning. So we will share more tips when we get back after a short break.


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Melanie Beasley, Licensed Dietitian. I'm here today with Britni, who's also a Licensed Dietitian. And we've been talking about how to get a better night of sleep during menopausal years when more than 60% of women say that they're having problems sleeping. Another little tip if you tend to experience night sweats: just use natural fibers like cotton for sheets. Sometimes that can be really helpful in your sleeping attire as well. So you can breathe and dry off.

BRITNI: Great suggestions. You know, before break, we were talking about a poll that the National Sleep Foundation gave in 2022. In that same study or poll, found that 75% of postmenopausal women report getting a good night's sleep about one night per week. So only one night per week they're sleeping well.

MELANIE: And they're managing careers.


MELANIE: They're managing children.

BRITNI: Just chronic sleep, sleep deprived. And according, you know, if you're one of these people, again, according to this poll, you are not alone. This is just so common. We hear it, you know, every day working with clients really.

Balance the blood sugar to prevent hot flashes

MELANIE: Something that can be really beneficial to keeping you from hot flashing is to balance your blood sugar. Now what do I mean by that? Keeping your blood sugar from doing huge spikes and dips and that is really related to what you're eating. So to balance out your blood sugar levels so that you have fewer hot flashes and night sweats during the night. Because when we, when the blood sugar drops, we hot flash. And the blood sugar can really drop rapidly if we've had a sugary snack.

Balanced bedtime snacks can help balance blood sugar

So what do we do in order to sleep better? The tip number one is to stabilize your blood sugar levels, especially before bed. And I loved what you said about when you were pregnant, you realized, oh my gosh, I need a snack.


MELANIE: So sometimes it's the fat and a little bit carb to anchor that nighttime blood sugar. So a really simple solution is going to be half of an apple, small half of a small apple with some nut butter like almond butter.

BRITNI: Yeah. Easy. Delicious.

MELANIE: Delicious. Wonderful. And not a huge, we're not talking about a big bowl of popcorn. Right? We're talking about something small. I, another one that I love is just celery and guacamole.

BRITNI: Mm. Yeah. Sounds great.

MELANIE: Yeah. Delicious.

BRITNI: So you mentioned popcorn.


BRITNI: I'm glad you mentioned that.

MELANIE: I'm, I'm going there. So listeners don't be hating on us.

BRITNI: People really love their popcorn and I think for so many years we were told it's a very healthy snack option.


BRITNI: Because it's lower calorie and then if you air pop it, you're not getting any fat. But I have some bad news. Unfortunately, popcorn, especially when you air pop it without that oil, that's just creating a big blood sugar spike. So if you're having that…

MELANIE: Britni, what if you have a client that says, but I slather my popcorn in butter. Is it okay then? What do you say?

BRITNI: How much popcorn are you eating? I mean, that's the thing too. If you're eating a cup of popcorn, sure, it's probably not going to have a huge effect. But nobody does that.

MELANIE: Nobody does that.

BRITNI: You're eating a huge bowl of popcorn.

MELANIE: A cup of popcorn is an angry portion.

BRITNI: Yeah. Nobody's just going to waste their time doing it.

MELANIE: Who's going to pop five kernels?

BRITNI: So by having that popcorn or you know, chips would be the same thing. Any of those high carbohydrate or high sugar foods, that's going to create a crash that happens during the middle of the night. And in a response to that, your cortisol's going to increase and you're going to wake up.

MELANIE: Yes. You know, we just posted a recipe on our website, or maybe it's on our Instagram and it is for cottage cheese ice cream.


MELANIE: We jumped on the trend. Fabulous. So delicious. So listeners.

BRITNI: It looks really good.

MELANIE: Yeah. I recommend it highly. It can be so frustrating if you automatically wake up in the middle of the night and if you've ever woken up at 2:00 AM, stared at the alarm clock for over an hour, you know what I'm talking about. I think we just assume once you hit your forties, well this is how I sleep now. And that's not necessarily how you have to go through life. So if you feel like, well this is a part of menopause and I don't like it, but everyone goes through it, I want to challenge you and say we have solutions. It's, it's not necessary.

BRITNI: Yeah. I, we've been talking about that bedtime snack. I highly encourage you to give it a try even if you don't necessarily feel hungry at that time. A lot of people, it just works magic for their sleep. Another favorite is half a cup of berries with two, three tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. Some people like to whip that up or you can keep it easy. Just pour that cream right on top. If you pour it on frozen berries, that creates a, a yummy texture. If you're dairy free, you could use canned coconut milk or even like some shredded coconut on top of those berries. That could be delicious, satisfying and keep you sleeping.

MELANIE: And if you blend it, it's very ice cream-like. So good. Another one I like is a half an avocado and you mash it with half a banana together. I don't recommend necessarily putting cocoa in it because cocoa's got some caffeine. But it's like a banana pudding.

BRITNI: It sounds strange, but it’s really delicious.

Healthy fats help balance blood sugar

MELANIE: It's actually good. So listeners, we double dog dare you to go out there and, and try it. But healthy fats are amazing when it comes to balancing your blood sugar levels. So pick what works for you and it's going to help reduce those night sweats too. Fat anchors your blood sugar and prevents those spikes and crashes. It's, it's like magic for a lot of people who sleep. Some people are really protein sensitive and can't do protein before bed. My husband can't. It revs him up and he tosses and turns all night. I can have a little protein before bed without a problem. So just be aware of that.

Healthy fats help with hormone balance

BRITNI: Yeah, good point. You know, the benefits of healthy fat, they're endless. Especially when it comes to hormone balance. The fats we eat actually act as building blocks to make our hormones like progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, which are all hormones produced by both men and women. And no fat, low fat eating is, you know, you're not going to be able to make those hormones efficiently. So it's just not good for having an optimal balance of hormones in your body.

MELANIE: So we need that fat to make the hormones. That's what I'm hearing you say.


MELANIE: Mm-Hmm. Good. And there are a lot of ways to incorporate the carb/fat bedtime snack that we talked about. So dive into some of those. Some of my clients swear by these snacks and they are able to sleep more soundly. You know, just veggies dipped in guacamole like we mentioned. Simple solution.

BRITNI: Yep. Isn't it worth it to you to get seven to eight hours of sounder sleep? You know, so many women are afraid to eat before bed because it goes against everything we've been told.


BRITNI: Especially if weight loss is part of, of your goal as well. But take a leap of faith and if…

MELANIE: We're not saying eat a whole container of guacamole.

BRITNI: No, no. It's just a small little snack. And if it, if you're not hungry and it really truly doesn't help your sleep, you don't need to have it. But it is worth at least trying.

MELANIE: I'm not someone who needs that bedtime snack. But if I'm hungry, if my dinner was earlier, I'll even just get a tablespoon of the fat, because I don't want to make a whole snack. But that will help me.


MELANIE: But if I go to bed and I'm hungry, I’m not going to sleep.

BRITNI: Yeah, it does not end well.

Hormonal imbalances can cause sleep disruption

MELANIE: We have several other tips for the most common menopausal sleep issues. Many women are confused as to why they suddenly either can't get to sleep or keep waking up all night and don't get into that deep restorative REM sleep. And it could be because of hormones, you know, or like we mentioned the blood sugar dipping.

BRITNI: In the years leading up to menopause, the ovaries really slow down their production of estrogen and progesterone. And this is what eventually causes menstrual cycles to just stop. And what shifts lead to all of these sleep issues women complain about really varies from woman to woman, but most commonly it's the hot flashes or night sweats when they're in the middle of the night: anxiety, depression, you know, sometimes even things like sleep apnea. Restless leg syndrome can play a role too.

MELANIE: And all of these are fixable. These are fixable. That restless leg, ugh. I don't know if you've ever had it, Britni.

BRITNI: I haven't had restless legs, but I've had those Charley horses, those really deep muscle cramps.


BRITNI: They're not fun.

MELANIE: You can't sleep through any of these things. And those are fixable. So like I mentioned earlier, those hot flashes and night sweats can be debilitating. Some women get a couple during the day or night, but if you're like I was, it was a constant issue. I was just sweaty and hot for 10 years, but I also was super uncomfortable during the day, not just the night. So trying to dress in layers and keep myself cool was kind of a priority.

BRITNI: Mm-Hmm. You know, it is already time for our second break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Perimenopause and menopause happen to all women, usually between the ages of 35 and 55. But the ages can really vary. And how women experience menopause also varies. Some sail through it and don't even notice while others struggle and have debilitating symptoms. Now is a great time to take advantage of our sale on the Menopause Survival class series. It's six one-hour classes that support you through the perimenopause and menopause journey; more about that in just a moment.


MELANIE: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. The Menopause Survival class series that Kara and I taught has six one-hour classes that you can watch from the comfort of your home. Topics we address are nutritional solutions to hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, menopausal weight gain, hair loss, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and a boatload more. We talk about all things menopause. There are no topics that we hold back on at all. Menopause should not be a topic anyone is afraid to talk about. The class series is on sale through July 4th and you can save $50. Everyone who signs up accesses the material for a full year. So check out the details at or call our office to ask any questions from our friendly staff at 651-699-3438.

Sign Up for Menopause Solutions – Online

BRITNI: So we've been talking about hot flashes and night sweats and I just want to share a client story. I recently saw a new client and the first time I met with her she was waking up three times a night having to change her clothes.

MELANIE: Bless her heart.

BRITNI: That's how bad her night sweats were. I know. I can’t even imagine.

MELANIE: How do you go back to sleep after that?

BRITNI: I don't know. I can't even, yeah. So I am very pleased to say I, we checked in like three to four weeks after that.

MELANIE: After you.

BRITNI: Yes, yes. After making some changes and she was no longer having those night sweats.

MELANIE: I bet she loves you. You're probably in her will.

BRITNI: Yeah. I mean, I, I mean she's, as you can imagine, she's feeling so much better during the day just because she's getting that restorative sleep again.

MELANIE: You're just a nicer woman when you get enough sleep.


MELANIE: And I, ugh, I wish I would've known you when. Britni’s kind of our hormone guru for our listeners to know. I mean, when, when I'm, when I have a stumper, I reach out to you.

BRITNI: Well it's, you know, dealing with my own hormonal imbalances makes you dive into it and become even more interested.



Sugar & processed carbs increase menopausal symptoms

MELANIE: And you do the, you do the hard research and then she educates all of us. So when Kara and I filmed the Menopause Survival series, we talked about how one teaspoon of sugar equals one hot flash. I'm going to say that again.

BRITNI: I love that.

MELANIE: One teaspoon of sugar equals one hot flash. That's a lot of hot flashing If you have sugar addiction. So that number really sticks with people, especially if they're desperate for relief.


MELANIE: So that's my challenge today, listeners. Give up sugar for a week. Read your labels. Give up sugar for a week, those processed carbs as well, and see how you're doing.

BRITNI: And if you're not having those hot flashes or night sweats anymore, it's going to be way easier to say no thank you to that sugar.

MELANIE: It is. Yeah.

BRITNI: And I mean sugar, obvious things; right? Donuts, candy, whatever. But sugar sneaks into other food too.

MELANIE: Well you think about in the summer you're barbecuing chicken, and you slather that with sweet barbecue sauce. Maybe try a dry rub.


MELANIE: It could sneak in; a glass of juice. We had someone call in, I think they were in our chat today and was asking about juice. And Carla, our front desk staff, so smart, she said, well she had them roll over and, and how many carbs are in there and divided by four. That's how many teaspoons of sugar is converted to your bloodstream.

BRITNI: And so really a cup of orange juice is pretty similar sugar content to a can of pop.


BRITNI: And then you're not getting the fiber from that fruit.

MELANIE: You're not getting the fiber from the fruit. So eat the orange.

BRITNI: Mm-Hmm. Definitely.

MELANIE: Skip the juice. Eat the fruit.

BRITNI: What are some other obvious forms of sugar?

MELANIE: We have really smart listeners. So muffins, donuts, cakes, candy, the handful of peanut M&M’s at your coworkers desk.


MELANIE: That you walk by to get. Beer, wine. Those may not be obvious, but they convert rapidly. And wine and beer can be a real big trigger for hot flashing. It's not just the obvious forms of sugar. It's the processed and high carbohydrate foods that turn into sugar. So think about a bagel. A bagel typically is about 14 teaspoons of sugar if you do the math.


MELANIE: It doesn't taste like sugar.


MELANIE: If you're looking to reduce those hot flashes, swap out that morning bagel with maybe sausage patties, some eggs, stir fry peppers, onions and mushrooms. And you've got this really hormone balancing meal. So…

BRITNI: And it tastes delicious.

MELANIE: It tastes delicious. And we're not suffering. But pancakes and syrup, that's a hot flash on a plate.

BRITNI: For sure. And I'm really glad you mentioned the beverages. So wine. Yeah. Alcohol can be huge culprits for hot flashes and night sweats. I mean, I've had so many clients where even one glass of wine, they're going to be having more night sweats. And there's a couple reasons for that. You know, alcohol actually causes your blood vessels to dilate, making you more likely to have a hot flash and night sweat. And then there's that blood sugar piece too that we've been talking about; more likely to create that blood sugar spike and then you’re crashing in the middle of the night.

Caffeine can be a trigger for menopausal symptoms

MELANIE: Yes. Yeah. Another one is coffee and energy drinks. We talked, we already talked about the juice. The soda's an obvious one, but caffeinated beverages can trigger a hot flash. My routine used to be I would, I would make a cup of coffee. I would grab an ice pack, one of those little lunch square ice packs, put it in my bathroom robe pocket. I would go upstairs to read and I would start drinking my coffee immediately I would hot flash and I would slap that ice pack on my neck because I didn't, I didn't know the connection of caffeine.


MELANIE: At the time and hot flashing. And now I know, but it just set me up to hot flash the whole morning long. Caffeine can be a trigger for hot flash, but if you're, if you're super sensitive. Some people maybe not. So you are your body's best doctor. You just have to listen to your body and start making these little connections.

Natural progesterone cream: another potential solution for menopausal symptoms

BRITNI: Yeah. And sometimes it just takes doing these little experiments with yourself to figure out what, what all of your triggers are. And once you've focused on reducing the sugar and processed carbs, reducing those caffeinated and sugary beverages, we have another magical solution for you called natural progesterone cream that's actually made from wild yams, which is pretty, pretty cool.

And what is progesterone; you might be wondering. It is a hormone made mostly in the ovaries during years of ovulating and menstruating. And that again takes that huge nose dive during perimenopause and menopause. And even if you're not having night sweats, but you're still suffering from insomnia during these years, oftentimes it's due to this lack of progesterone.

MELANIE: Yeah. Because it can get really, it can get out of balance when we have so much exposure to xenoestrogens.


MELANIE: And things that make us estrogen dominant. So that can help balance that progesterone cream can help balance. You just put it on thin skin morning and night.

BRITNI: Yep. About a quarter teaspoon. And I'm, I'm glad you, you talked about that estrogen dominance. I want to clear up a big misconception about menopause and hormones. You know, often we hear about estrogen being the main hormone that drops during menopause, creating all of these menopausal symptoms. Well yes. Estrogen does also drop during menopause. But as we've been talking about, that drop in progesterone is a lot more dramatic. So these hormones should really be somewhat in balance. And a lot of times when progesterone crashes, estrogen is still being produced. I mean, estrogen is made from our fat cells actually. And that contributes to that estrogen dominance you mentioned, Melanie.

So it, it exactly. And estrogen dominance impairs sleep. So that's our bottom line here. My clients love me when I tell them about natural progesterone cream. Not for everyone. So you, you are your body's best doctor and we're going to talk a little bit about that when we come back from our next break.

BRITNI: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I am Britni Vincent, Registered and Licensed Dietitian. I am here today with Melanie Beasley, who is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And our topic has been how to get a better night's sleep even during hormonal shifts and changes such as perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause when women experience a lot of challenges falling and staying asleep.


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. This has been a great topic today and a lot of fun chatting with Britni about how to get a better night's sleep during menopausal years. If we could get anyone sleeping better, I feel like this was a successful show.

BRITNI: Without a doubt.

MELANIE: So we have a lot of free resources on our website and you can go to and type in the word “sleep” or “menopause” in the search box. And you'll see articles, blogs, other podcasts on this topic; a lot of free information if you feel like you weren't able to grasp it all the first time. This is a great way. And if you're looking for more recipe and meal ideas to keep your blood sugar stable and avoid those annoying hot flashes and night sweats, you can browse our recipes as well because they're all what we call balanced for the most part.

Synthetic progesterone is NOT the same as natural progesterone cream

BRITNI: You know, before break we were talking about progesterone and the importance of that with balancing our hormones and we were also talking about natural progesterone cream. So there is also synthetic progesterone out there that is called progestin. So that is different; very different. And often they're used in like hormonal birth control, hormonal replacement therapy. And that sometimes can actually contribute to weight gain. These progestins can.

MELANIE: Nobody wants that.

BRITNI: No. So just something to be aware of if, if you are taking birth control or hormone replacement therapy.

MELANIE: That can be really frustrating. You're hot flashing and then you start gaining weight as well.


MELANIE: And that's the progestin you're talking about.



BRITNI: And there was something called the Women's Health Initiative that was a huge government back study done in the nineties. It was the largest women's health study ever conducted on postmenopausal women. Ultimately the study had to be stopped because they were finding several life-threatening conditions linked to women using hormone replacement therapy. And didn't you and Kara also talk about this study during the Menopause Survival Seminar?

MELANIE: We did. We touched on that as well. And we explained why natural progesterone cream is a safe option. It's different from hormone replacement therapy. We had a lot of fun filming and it's, it's great to hear and read all the positive feedback from the women who are getting relief. I mean that's why we do this. And so that's the best part of my job I think.

BRITNI: So far. You know, we've talked about the progesterone, that role and everything. We talked a lot about balancing blood sugar levels by eating that combination of protein, fat and mostly veggies to get your carbohydrates.

MELANIE: Well and eating less sugar of course and processed carbs. These are foods you can't pluck in nature or hunt in nature and drinking less alcohol because again, one teaspoon of sugar equals one more hot flash.

Another sleep aid: magnesium

BRITNI: Well I have another solution for you all to help you sleep. And it's magnesium. I mean we, we talk about it a lot because it is our most important relaxation mineral. So Magnesium Glycinate before bed, you know, a lot of people find a sweet spot between 200, 400 milligrams and it just puts you into a deeper sleep.

MELANIE: And you have to be careful, listeners, that you don't just go get a magnesium, any old magnesium. Because there's many, many forms out there that will give you diarrhea and that's not what we need here.

BRITNI: Great point. I just had an email from a client this morning. We swapped her magnesium and guess what? Her diarrhea went away.

MELANIE: It was an easy, easy fix.

BRITNI: Easy solution.

MELANIE: So you're saying magnesium glycinate.


MELANIE: We want it chelated. And so it doesn't have that digestive disruption.

BRITNI: Yep. Exactly.

Balancing hormones may require nutrition counseling

MELANIE: Good plan. Good plan. I know that you also have a lot of tools in your toolbox in addition to what we're talking about when you have a difficult hormonal case, Britni. And so that's more appropriate in a one-on-one clinic consultation.

Schedule Nutrition Counseling

BRITNI: Absolutely. I mean everybody's different and we have to look at the big picture of your hormones. This is not just looking at this, this stage of perimenopause, menopause, looking at your whole life of your hormone balance can definitely indicate to us what might be helpful for you. And balancing out these hormones, getting rid of these symptoms. So there's a lot of other things that we can do to help you. Just, it varies a lot.

MELANIE: It varies. But we always start with food.

BRITNI: Without a doubt.

MELANIE: Because that's a simple free fix that you can do out there. Apply some of these things that we're talking about. See how your body responds. And of course we always talk about anchor your blood sugar with that protein, that healthy fat. Because in addition, like Britni mentioned, it makes those hormones, and then we need the vegetables.


MELANIE: And what kind of vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables are important for hormone balance

BRITNI: Well I think cruciferous vegetables are so important for hormone balancing because they will actually help to reduce that estrogen dominance we were talking about. They help to detoxify those more harmful estrogens. So when we say cruciferous veggies, it's really all the stinky ones: the Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy.

MELANIE: Arugula, radishes. These are all cruciferous. And because what's the component in cruciferous?

BRITNI: Indole-3-carbinol.

MELANIE: Indole-3-carbinol is the magic in the cruciferous vegetables. So think about this also listeners, when you're eating these cruciferous vegetables, and I always recommend three cups a day is your goal, what you are actually doing is you are also lowering your risk of estrogen dominant cancers that can occur: ovary, uterine, breast, and prostate. So we're not menopause and prostate is not the topic, but for, you know, if you've got a male loved one out there, it helps decrease the risk of prostate cancer. So all of everybody will benefit in the family when you start bringing in the stinky vegetables into the house.

BRITNI: For sure. I mean there is a lot of research behind that compound, indole-3-carbinol, and, and all of the benefits.

MELANIE: All of the benefits. And I love to start, if I feel like I have not gotten, I'm a breast cancer survivor, so if I feel like I have not gotten those three cups of cruciferous vegetables in, I will literally fill my blender with water, put frozen broccoli, cauliflower in there, maybe some kale. I have frozen as well. I will blend it. I put a scoop of Key Greens in there, which is just an antioxidant booster that makes it taste like berries or lemonade and not like I'm drinking earth.

And then I'll eat my protein. But that way it's a lot easier for me to drink down cruciferous vegetables. If I have just had a salad throughout the day and then peppers and onions in the morning, I know I need those three cups. And so that's how I do it. And I, I have a really good blender, so I'm not drinking chunks of broccoli. It blends it. It's, it's full of, you know, water. And then also I'll do the Key Greens; maybe a half cup of frozen blueberries in there.

BRITNI: Great idea.



MELANIE: But I'm not going to bed until I had those three cups of cruciferous vegetables.

BRITNI: I love it. So I mean, this time of year I, salads of course. But for something different and for ease, I like to use cabbage or broccoli slaw as my base. Then you can mix it all together, including the dressing and it's, it stays good in the fridge for a few days. I love the crunchy broccoli salad.

MELANIE: I do too.

BRITNI: On our website, we have one that is just called cruciferous salad.

MELANIE: And you, it makes a lot, but you can, like you said, those hold up; leftovers, whereas a leaf lettuce doesn't.


MELANIE: I love to just get a bag of organic coleslaw mix. And then I use my food processor and shred purple cabbage.


MELANIE: So I could just throw in those cruciferous, even if I'm doing a leaf lettuce, I'll throw in a handful of that shredded purple cabbage.

BRITNI: I love that cooked.

MELANIE: Oh, I do too.


MELANIE: So I stir fry purple cabbage in bacon fat. And then you can crumble your bacon in there and with a like a half of an sour apple.


MELANIE: Stir fry it all in bacon fat. Do a little drizzle at the very end of about two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. It's fantastic with pork chops.

BRITNI: You're making me very hungry.

MELANIE: We're going to leave here and we have all these ideas to eat.


MELANIE: But think of different ways that you can incorporate cruciferous vegetables. Everyone should. Everyone should. And don't eat the same vegetables over and over and over. I mean, we live in a land where we can eat broccoli every day. We can have strawberries every day. But that really limits your nutrient intake and your micronutrient intake. Walk through the grocery store. When my girls were little, we would walk through and we had something called stump the grocer. So if they picked a vegetable that the checkout person didn't recognize, they got a quarter.

BRITNI: Oh, that's fun.

MELANIE: And so they would pick a, they would pick like odd fruits and vegetables and then they were interested in trying it. So it was a way to get them going. And I'm pleased to say now they're adult women who will eat any type of vegetable or any type of food.

BRITNI: What a great idea.

MELANIE: So it was fun too. And they got to earn a little, little money, but it's fun to do. So that's, listeners, that's the message we want for you is to get a variety of vegetables. Challenge yourself. Gosh, there's so many recipes on the website now. So it's been fun talking about menopause with you and hormones. Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thanks for listening to Britni and I today. Have a great day.

BRITNI: Thank you.

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