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Progesterone for Sleep

Hormones are regulatory, and sleep is part of the regulatory processes impacted by hormones.


Caution: Anyone considering hormone supplementation should obtain a complete hormone panel and have the values interpreted by someone expert in this area.


Here is an understandable summary of the relationship between progesterone and sleep.



From the article:


Low levels of the hormone progesterone can cause sleep difficulties, including insomnia, sleep apnea, and night sweats. This is especially common in individuals who have reached menopause, as progesterone levels decrease. While progesterone supplementation is not a first-line treatment for sleep problems, it may benefit some experiencing hormonal changes.


Progesterone is a naturally occurring sex hormone that plays an important role in the menstrual cycle and helps maintain the uterus during pregnancy. Doctors may prescribe progesterone—either in its natural or synthetic form—for a variety of purposes.

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy: Some individuals take progesterone pills as part of hormone replacement therapy, which is prescribed to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.

  • Contraception: Because progesterone can help prevent ovulation, it is used by itself or in combination with other hormones in birth control pills, injections, rings, and intrauterine devices (IUDs).

  • Fertility treatments: Progesterone may be used in fertility treatments, and it is sometimes prescribed to re-initiate periods in people who are of childbearing age but have stopped menstruating.


Symptoms of Low Progesterone

In years leading to menopause, the body naturally begins to produce less progesterone, and after a person’s periods stop, progesterone levels remain low. Low progesterone is one of several hormonal changes that contribute to menopausal symptoms, which include:

  • Hot flashes and night sweats

  • Flushed skin

  • Mood swings

  • Low sex drive

Additionally, low progesterone can contribute both directly and indirectly to the sleep problems that are common during and after menopause. These include insomnia, a sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep, and sleep-breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea.


How Progesterone Affects Sleep 

Research suggests that progesterone benefits sleep in certain populations, such as post-menopausal individuals and people with sleep apnea. Experts have offered several explanations for why this might be the case, including:

  • Progesterone decreases menopausal symptoms

  • Progesterone may promote sleepiness and reduce anxiety

  • Progesterone appears to increase your respiratory drive, which may help reduce sleep apnea symptoms 


Who Should Consider Taking Progesterone for Sleep?

Progesterone is not currently prescribed for the sole purpose of improving sleep. That said, people with sleep problems who also have symptoms or conditions commonly treated by progesterone should talk to their doctors about whether progesterone is a good choice for them, including:  

  • People who have reached menopause and who have not had a hysterectomy 

  • Individuals interested in preventing pregnancy with hormonal forms of contraception 

  • People with irregular periods 



References


  1. Cable J. & Grider M. ( 2023 May). Physiology, Progesterone. StatPearls., Retrieved September 22, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558960/

  2. A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia. (2019 December). Hormone Replacement Therapy. MedlinePlus., Retrieved September 22, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/hormonereplacementtherapy.html

  3. A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia. (2023 March). Progesterone Vaginal. MedlinePlus., Retrieved September 23, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a623013.html

  4. Tangpricha, V. & Safer, J. (2023 October). Transgender women: Evaluation and management. In K. Martin (Ed.). UpToDate., Retrieved September 22, 2023, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/transgender-women-evaluation-and-management

  5. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. (2021 July). Menopause. MedlinePlus., Retrieved September 24, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000894.htm

  6. Andersen, M. L., Bittencourt, L. R., Antunes, I. B., & Tufik, S. (2006). Effects of progesterone on sleep: a possible pharmacological treatment for sleep-breathing disorders?. Current medicinal chemistry, 13(29), 3575–3582. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17168724/

  7. Prior J. C. (2018). Progesterone for treatment of symptomatic menopausal women. Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society, 21(4), 358–365. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29962247/

  8. Lee, J., Han, Y., Cho, H. H., & Kim, M. R. (2019). Sleep Disorders and Menopause. Journal of menopausal medicine, 25(2), 83–87. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31497577/

  9. Louis, J. & Pien, G. (2023 October). Obstructive sleep apnea in pregnancy. In V. Berghella, N. Collop, A. Chakrabarti, & G. Finlay (Ed.). UpToDate., Retrieved September 23, 2023, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/obstructive-sleep-apnea-in-pregnancy



 


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