Sleep is a key pillar of wellness, it’s absolutely essential to our physical, mental, and emotional health. 

Did you know hormones play a pivotal role in regulating our sleep cycle? This raises the question, what are hormones exactly?

Hormones are chemical messengers that are released through the endocrine system, a network of organs and glands in the body that are responsible for many bodily functions. Hormones can affect our appetite, immunity, sex drive, reproduction, blood pressure, as well as our all important sleep cycles.

Ayurveda recognises sleep disturbances as a sign of imbalances in the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. You can uncover your dominant dosha and any imbalances with our enlightening quiz.

How Hormones Affect Sleep

When hormones are in balance, we sleep deeply and wake up feeling refreshed and renewed. When hormones are imbalanced, sleep can become disrupted which can lead to issues, including fatigue, moodiness and difficulty concentrating.

The hormones that play a role in regulating sleep are:

  • Melatonin, which helps to regulate the body's circadian rhythm, the natural sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin levels are highest at night and lowest during the day.
  • Cortisol, known as the "stress hormone" which is released in response to stress. Cortisol levels are highest in the morning and lowest at night.
  • Oestrogen and progesterone are two hormones produced by the ovaries that regulate the menstrual cycle. Oestrogen levels can fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle which can affect sleep quality.

Across various life stages, women's sleep patterns are influenced by the fluctuating levels of hormones, especially during critical periods such as the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. These hormonal shifts can make women more susceptible to sleep issues and hinder their ability to achieve sound sleep.

Sleep Issues at Different Life Stages

  • Menopause and Sleep

  • Menopause, a natural transition in a woman’s life, is marked by a decline in oestrogen levels. This hormonal shift can trigger a range of symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats, both of which disrupt sleep. The years leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, can also bring about sleep disruptions. As estrogen levels start to fluctuate, women may experience hot flashes and mood swings that interfere with sleep. 

    Mauli tip: Our Shatavari herb can help to regulate hormones during menopause and promote a sound night’s sleep.

  • Pregnancy and Postpartum Sleep

  • Getting a good night's rest can be particularly challenging during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Hormonal changes, physical discomforts and emotional stress can all contribute to sleep disturbances. Rising progesterone levels during pregnancy can lead to increased fatigue, while fluctuating oestrogen levels can disrupt sleep patterns.

    Mauli tip: Gentle practices like mindful breathing or soothing herbal teas and warm milk can promote better sleep.

  • Menstrual Cycles and Sleep

  • While not every woman experiences sleep disruptions during her menstrual cycle, sleep issues are more common than you might think. Menstrual cramps, bloating and body temperature fluctuations can all impact a woman's sleep cycle for a few days each month. Some women experience increased sleep difficulties during this time, while others encounter excessive sleepiness.

    Mauli tip: Ashwagandha is an excellent herb that can help to balance blood sugars, reduce stress and promote sleep. Shatavari is also beneficial for menstrual cycle imbalances.

    Additional Ayurvedic Tips for Restful Sleep

    Establish a regular sleep schedule: go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.

    • Consume a soothing drink before bed: drink a warm, calming beverage like warm milk with a teaspoon of ghee or a cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile 

    • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: this could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.

    • Practice Abhyanga, self-massage with warm oil: give yourself a traditional Ayurvedic self-massage using a relaxing body oil. Our Sleep Dharma Bath & Shower Oil prepares body and mind for a restful sleep.

    Our Art of Sleep Ritual Set features a Calm Balm and Pillow Mist, which are the perfect combination to cultivate a restorative sleep. 

    Indre Velaviciute