Chronic insomnia disorder is one of the most common problems postmenopausal women experience. While there are several treatment strategies available, breakthrough research has shown that a new approach may be effective at treating symptoms of sleeplessness: supplementing with Vitamin E.
Long overshadowed by other nutrients like Vitamins A, B, C or D, Vitamin E has been gaining ground. Today, doctors and researchers believe that this essential nutrient’s antioxidant can play a role in the prevention of serious diseases, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some cancers. A recent study also shows promising results in Vitamin E’s role in the treatment of postmenopausal insomnia, a condition that’s closely linked to oxidative stress and antioxidant levels in the body.
Read on to learn more about postmenopausal insomnia, and how recent research shows that Vitamin E is effective for treating it.
What is Postmenopausal Insomnia?
Doctors and researchers have found a clear link between menopause and insomnia. Sleeplessness is a frequent occurrence during perimenopause and menopause. While some people only experience occasional or mild sleep disturbances, the symptoms for others can be severe. A recent study found that one in four people experiencing perimenopause and menopause suffer from insomnia that affects their daily lives.
In females, the likelihood of insomnia increases with age. A sleep disorder study by the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) found that insomnia is even more prevalent in postmenopause, with 35-60% of females suffering symptoms. These people experience maintenance insomnia due to a lack of estrogen that causes vasomotor hot flashes.
Postmenopausal women may suffer from a number of other sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and restless legs syndrome (RLS). Many people experience daytime functional impairments from sleep disturbance, and researchers are studying potential treatment methods. Fortunately, one recent study shows promising results when it comes to the treatment of postmenopausal insomnia. Vitamin E—one of the 13 essential vitamins and nutrients the body needs for survival—has been shown to alleviate chronic insomnia disorder and enhance sleep quality in postmenopausal women.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant
For years, Vitamin E has been gaining ground as a powerful antioxidant, playing a major role in supporting critical, everyday bodily processes. The body is exposed to free radicals each day, thanks to pollution, diet, exercise habits and many other factors. When these free radicals build up in the body, they cause oxidative stress that can damage healthy cells and even lead to premature cellular death.
Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means the body stores it in tissues and releases it on an as-needed basis—as long as there’s enough stored. Doctors and scientists recommend healthy adults receive 15 mg of Vitamin E each day, but this can be challenging to achieve from diet alone. Vitamin E is abundant in many whole foods, but the richest sources—pressed oils and nuts—are typically high in fat. Postmenopausal women with insomnia in particular should prioritize Vitamin E intake, especially since it’s closely linked to alleviating this serious, life-altering condition.
Vitamin E addresses the oxidative stress associated with chronic sleep deprivation
Oxidative stress has been linked to the development of serious diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, and it’s also linked to chronic sleep deprivation. Not only does oxidative stress contribute to insomnia, but sleeplessness causes the oxidative stress to compound, driving a chemical conversion. It’s a bidirectional relationship—oxidative stress can trigger sleep, which then converts to antioxidants for the body and brain. People suffering from postmenopausal insomnia are often lacking in antioxidants, leaving them vulnerable not only to continuous insomnia, but also to other conditions linked to oxidative stress and the damage it causes.
A recent study tested this hypothesis with a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The study included a sample of 160 postmenopausal women with chronic insomnia, and they were organized into two groups—one that received 400 IUs of mixed tocopherols daily and a placebo group. Researchers relied on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to measure sleep quality of participants. Scientists wanted to know whether Vitamin E supplements could be a viable alternative to hormonal therapy and sedative drugs in treating postmenopausal insomnia, and the results were surprising:
“The main findings of our study indicate that a one-month vitamin E prescription can improve sleep quality and reduce sedative drug use in postmenopausal women with chronic insomnia disorder. There is much evidence to back up the benefits of vitamin E in menopause, whether it is for postmenopausal symptoms or bone health. However, as described previously, no clinical trial has been conducted to evaluate the potential effect of vitamin E on chronic insomnia disorder, especially in postmenopausal women,” said the study authors.
In short, researchers have concluded that Vitamin E’s powerful antioxidant properties alleviate oxidative stress that causes—and worsens—sleep deprivation. It’s a big step forward in the treatment of postmenopausal insomnia, further proving the importance of maintaining appropriate Vitamin E levels.
Vitamin E shows potential as an alternative treatment for postmenopausal insomnia
As recent research shows, a mixed tocopherol Vitamin E supplement proved effective at relieving symptoms of chronic insomnia in a sample of postmenopausal people. A mixed tocopherol supplement includes the four tocopherol isomers of Vitamin E: alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol. Most Vitamin E supplements only contain the alpha-tocopherol isomer, so look closely at Vitamin E supplements to ensure they provide a mix of all four tocopherols. Together, they play a key role in neutralizing free radicals, preventing oxidative stress and supporting healthy bodily processes.
Supplement safely with Vitamin E
Postmenopausal insomnia has far-reaching effects on your everyday quality of life. Luckily, natural remedies like supplementing with Vitamin E have proven effective at treating the oxidative stress associated with chronic insomnia symptoms. Supplement safely by consulting with your healthcare provider and choosing an all-natural mixed tocopherol Vitamin E supplement that provides your body with optimal benefits. Talk to your doctor today about the benefits of Vitamin E, and look forward to more restful, restorative sleep.