The One Thing This Hormone Expert Wants You To Pay Attention To In Your 50s

mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
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Your hormones shift throughout your lifetime, but three big milestones tend to dominate the conversation: puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Everyone's body is different, of course, but for many women, the latter happens sometime in the early 50s. (The international average age is 52 years old, in case you're curious.) 

"Some women just transition right into it," says midwife, hormone expert, and integrative medicine doctor Aviva Romm, M.D., on the mindbodygreen podcast. "But for a lot of women, big hormonal shifts happen—like earthquake-level hormonal changes—that can really alter how you feel in your body." 

To help make the transition smoother, Romm recommends focusing on one thing: sleep. Here's why high-quality shut-eye becomes even more important during this time. 

Why you should focus on sleep in your 50s. 

We don't need to tell you how important sleep is for overall well-being and longevity (we'll just nudge you here and here, in case you need a refresher). And, we should note, it's crucial to clock in hours no matter your age—catching quality Zzz's is always a good idea.

However, focusing on sleep during menopause becomes even more major, as difficulty sleeping is one of the most common menopausal health issues. According to Romm, this happens because "better sleep [can] become challenging as estrogen and progesterone go down." Progesterone, it turns out, is significant for sleep: It helps calm the mind, and research has even found that menopausal women who took progesterone daily at bedtime had improved sleep quality.* 

A drop in estrogen, on the other hand, can affect hot flashes and make you sweat while you sleep—a concept called night sweats that wakes many women up in the middle of the night. "Hot flashes keep you awake, but also know that when estrogen goes down, blood sugar can rise, leading to wakefulness in the night," naturopathic doctor Doni Wilson, N.D., once told mbg

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The bottom line? It's incredibly common for menopausal women to have trouble falling and staying asleep, which is why Romm suggests doing what you can to optimize your sleep quality during this time. "[I recommend] supplements that can support sleep. Some of them also support ovarian health, which is interesting, like melatonin." You can also opt for mindbodygreen's sleep support+, which contains magnesium bisglycinate (a highly absorbable form of magnesium that promotes a steady state of relaxation), as well as calming nutrients like PharmaGABA® and jujube to enhance sleep quality and support a healthy circadian rhythm.*

And you can ramp up your sleep hygiene by turning off electronics, dialing down the temperature, and a few other to-do's listed here

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The takeaway. 

If there's one thing to focus on in your 50s, Romm suggests prioritizing quality sleep. Tons of women face difficulties with sleep during menopause, which can be frustrating—but Romm says it shouldn't last forever: "Once you get into your mid-50s, for most women the hormonal ups and downs actually settle into a nice hum... You get much fewer upheavals."

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