Insomnia from Progesterone?

by Marie
(Michigan)

I'm 39 and blood tests on 2 occasions showed lack of ovulation, though my cycles do arrive every month. Around September I suddenly started having severe insomnia, on top of other menopausal type symptoms like dryness, lack of libido, and hair thinning. Nothing I took seemed to help me sleep.

My doctors all attributed it to anxiety, which I've struggled with my whole life. However, there was no particular event that would have triggered the sleep problems and I had actually been sleeping better than I had in 2 years when this started. Recently I started using a bit of progesterone cream hoping to sort out the imbalance, along with other methods (meditation, etc.) to help me sleep (I was going along with the doctors who told me it was anxiety). After a few days of using less than 1/8 tsp of the cream in the mornings, I started sleeping better, and actually lowered my sleeping medication. But the following month the cream was causing the insomnia to become worse almost immediately (I was using less than 10 mg a day).

I'm scared to continue the cream, not knowing if this is something that will pass. The insomnia is horrible, and severely impacts my life.

I'm grateful for any advice.

Thank you!

Comments for Insomnia from Progesterone?

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Feb 05, 2010
Low Estrogen
by: suzy-q

Sounds like you could have low estrogen. Low levels can cause anxiety and sleep problems. Progesterone while helpful to some can cause anxiety in others by raising cortisol levels (the stress hormone). I had to find this out the hard way, as I have encountered the same issues you have had. Hope this helps.

Feb 23, 2010
Insomnia from Progesterone?
by: Wray

Hi Marie. Anovulatory cycles do start at about age 35, so this is not unusual. But it does mean your progesterone levels are dropping, as it's only when we ovulate that we make progesterone. So the symptoms are not unusual either. Anxiety is caused by a lack of GABA, it's one of our most calming neurotransmitters. GABA itself is difficult to use, but as progesterone activates the GABA receptor sites, it's normally enough to stop the anxiety.
You might like to see this web page.

It would seem your progesterone has been too low all your life, and the 1/8th tsp is not enough. All the successful studies used between 100-200mg/day, some more for the severe cases. Stress does drop progesterone levels sharply, which increases adverse symptoms. If you're not ovulating regularly it would mean you have excess oestrogen, this also suppresses progesterone. Cortisol, our stress hormone, is made in the adrenals from progesterone, so any added stress would drop the level. The reason the insomnia worsened was excess oestrogen, please see this web page for more info. Take care, Wray

Jul 05, 2010
Insomnia from Progesterone
by: Marie

HI Wray.

Thanks for responding! To update on my experience, I had gone to see a Dr. who specializes in bioidentical hormones, and he put me on 100 mg progesterone capsules to take coninuously for at least 2 months. I didn't really feel anything, including any improvement in sleep (I actually had to up my sleeping pill dose just a bit). After a month, I switched over to a topical product again knowing that I really wasn't getting enough progesterone with the capsule. I did that for 3 days only, then stopped because I thought I was having side effects with my eyes. Turned out I'm just getting old :) Anyway, about 2 weeks after I stopped the cream, my sleeping actually got MUCH better. I was ALMOST to the point where I could come off my sleep medication altogether (on 25 mg vs. 150 mg when the insomnia began).

Then the next cycle rolled around around and I went full force into the progesterone (50 mg a day per Dr. recommendation). As soon as I started I had to increase my sleeping pill dose again. It never got any better over the 2 weeks on the progesterone, and it hasn't gotten any better in the almost 2 weeks I've been OFF the progesterone.

It's strange to me that the insomnia I've had since August of 2009 gets better after adding then stopping the progesterone (though it hasn't gotten better since stopping after this last cycle . . .yet), but gets worse when I start the cream again. Do you have any isight into this cycle of sleep improvement and regression??? I'm scared of permanently getting stuck in insomnia hell if I keep going with the cream. But I also need it to clear up cervical dysplasia I'm confident is related to too much estrogen. Will the insomnia eventually go away if I continue with the cream, and how long should it take???

Thanks!

Jul 08, 2010
Insomnia from Progesterone
by: Wray

Hi Marie Firstly oral progesterone is a waste of time, most of it being destroyed by the gut, the liver metabolising the remainder. Unless 300-600mg/day is taken, but that really strains the liver unnecessarily. Please see here and here. Injections, suppositories or creams are far better systems, the cream being more versatile. As I said previously, the amount should be no less than 100mg/day, so you are not going full force into progesterone with only 50mg/day. This will merely keep you in a state of oestrogen dominance as you've discovered. To overcome this quickly I would actually suggest you use 200mg/day, then once symptoms have resolved reduce it slowly till you find the optimum level. I still use about 170mg/day and that's after 14 years of using it. The insomnia is only caused by excess oestrogen, so each time you start the progesterone it will occur again and again, as each time the low dose of progesterone is merely stimulating the oestrogen receptor sites. You are right about the cervical dysplasia, oestrogen and only oestrogen can cause cells to divide and multiply, it's a mitogen, progesterone is not. In fact it reverses this affect, so I would suggest you use some of the cream in your vagina too. Please read our web page on Oestrogen Dominance again, it explains in greater detail what's happening. Please also look at our page on Anxiety again. There is a list of nutrients which help with insomnia. Progesterone does help but if it's severe you will need help from these too, rather than taking a sleeping pill. Take care Wray

Sep 16, 2010
Question for Marie or others with insomnia problem
by: Yaleigh

Hi Marie. Just wondering if you indeed increaded the dosage as was suggested and if you did, did it help with the insomnia? I'm having the exact same issues and very reluctant to continue using much less at an increased dose. Thanks!

Sep 11, 2012
possibly low thyroid
by: Anonymous

Has a dr ever checked your thyroid? In my late 30s i started to experience waking up after only 5-6 sleep not being able to go back to sleep. Turns out i had a low normal thyroid. Bioidentical thyroid meds did the trick after about a month. Your bioidentical dr will know specifically what to check.

Oct 08, 2012
IVF using donor eggs and insomnia
by: proctor

Hi I started taking oestrogen as part of the donor eggs program last thursday and since then i havent been able to sleep. i previously had chronic insomnia but had it under control using melatonin, magnesium and castor oil. However since they put me on oestrogen i havent slept. I had used progesterone cream in the past and that helped me sleep initially but then ended up having the opposite affect. Can you tell me if i should go back to the cream to off-set the additional oestrogen i have been put on. Many thanks.

Oct 08, 2012
IVF using donor eggs and insomnia
by: Wray

Hi Proctor Oestrogen is a problem. You use the word 'taking' so I'm assuming you were given oral oestrogen. This is not the best method of delivery, they've found topical oestrogen more effective, less dangerous and with less adverse side effects. Is there any way you could get them to change your script? Progesterone will help with insomnia, see here, here and here. But you would need more than most due to the added oestrogen. The reason it helped in the past, and then didn't, was probably because you were told to use 20mg/day, maybe 40mg/day. I've found generally the amount needs to be 100-200mg/day or more, dependant on symptoms. I feel you would need 200mg/day if not more. We do have a page on Pregnancy you could look through, and another here. Take care Wray

Oct 30, 2012
Insomnia
by: Rebecca

I've been taking 200 mg of progesterone just starting after ovulation. I normally get chronic migraines and didn't even have one during the 14 days I was taking it (amazing for me). I however did experience insomnia. I know some usually recommend a higher dose for insomnia but I'm already taking a lot. Do you think it's too much or will it even out over the next months? I stopped the progesterone in order to menstruate and again I have migraines and pretty bad cramps as usual but I am sleeping. I'd appreciate any insight.

Oct 30, 2012
help with migraines and insomnia too
by: Rebecca

For Wray- I am hoping you can provide some insight for me. I'm 36 years old and ever since the birth of my son almost 2 years ago I've had chronic migraines. They are more frequent with menstration but I get them pretty much all month off and on. I tend to always have some sort of headache of not a
Migraine. If its really bad I take imitrex and it does help. I rely on Advil most days otherwise. I started using progesterone cream this past cycle (tracked my ovulation and started it after that). I used 200 mg breaking it up 4 times a day. For the first time in years I had no migraine for 2 straight weeks and had a lot more energy. However I started having another side effect- insomnia. I'd either wake and not be able to go back to sleep, or not fall asleep until very late. I was getting between 4-6 hours of sleep a night and was not able to nap at all. But still I felt better than usual and was pleased. Now, I went off of the cream for menstruation and I am sleeping great, but the migraines are back and I have very bad cramps (they feel like early labor). Should I have used the cream continuously instead and can I still do so even though I've been off it a few days? Also any help on dosage for the insomnia? Am I still not taking enough for my particular issues or am I taking it at the wrong times? Thank you so much!

Oct 31, 2012
insomnia and taking 100 mg. progesterone
by: tina

Hey Ladies,
I have been experiencing the same problem with the progesterone. I am 55 years old and currently have vaginal atrophy so I need to be taking estriol which I insert vaginally (2.25 mg.)....which is a low dose. I have suffered with insomnia for quite a long time and it seems that while I am on the progesterone I have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up early. It seems like I only get about 4-6 hours a night. I did go off the P for almost two months (August and September) and my sleep improved, BUT the vaginal atrophy came back with a vengence. I am very thin so maybe I don't store estrogen. I had a blood spot and saliva test done back in July while I was on the 2.25 mg. estriol and 100 mg. progesterone and my Progesterone saliva and blood spot levels were high as well as the estradiol to P ratios. Couldn't understand that because I am on estriol. Anyhow, the sleep issue is killing me and I don't know if I should up my Progest dosage to 200 mg. a nigh and see if that helps. Does anyone have any advice. Also.........the 2.25 mg. of estriol is not helping with the vaginal atrophy but maybe I need more time on it. Any help would be appreciated.

Nov 01, 2012
help with migraines and insomnia too
by: Wray

Hi Rebecca I wish progesterone therapy was simple! But I am happy the Migraines were helped. Progesterone is a potent anti-inflammatory. It's also good for sleep as it enhances GABA, see here, here and here. But it does seem it's stimulating oestrogen in this respect. Oestrogen is an excitatory hormone, it enhances the glutamate response. Glutamate is our most excitatory neurotransmitter, see here, here, here and here. This last paper suggests GABA is low in insomnia, I can only assume the progesterone, by stimulating oestrogen, is then increasing glutamate. It should pass, but you could try taking GABA for a bit, and see if that helps. We have more info about GABA on our page Natural Antidepressants. If you do try it, please let me know if it helps, so others can read it, or I can pass it on. Continued below

Nov 01, 2012
help with migraines and insomnia too Part 2
by: Wray

Hi Rebecca You mention your cramps are like early labour. All uterine cramps are caused by the same inflammatory cytokines that are produced in labour. There are quite a few too! This is rather a mouthful, but these are some of them here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here here, here and here. One of the roles of progesterone is to quieten the uterus, in other words it opposes these cytokines. I always suggest rubbing the cream all over the tummy, or where ever there is pain. Even during bleeding, it won't upset the cycle. I also suggest using progesterone daily, during bleeding too, for about 2-3 months if symptoms are bad. It's a toss up between insomnia or migraines and cramps! But if you try the GABA, maybe you could stick to your cycle and see how you get on. Please let me know what you decide. Take care Wray

Nov 01, 2012
insomnia and taking 100 mg. progesterone
by: Wray

Hi Tina Insomnia is a problem for so many. Maybe you could try taking the GABA as I suggested to Rebecca, and see if that helps you. Although progesterone activates the GABA receptors, without sufficient GABA it's not going to have much effect. I'm interested you say you're using the estriol for vaginal atrophy, but it's not working. And yet you say when you stopped the progesterone it "came back with a vengeance". I use progesterone in my vagina every night to prevent both dryness and atrophy occurring. Progesterone is a potent anti-inflammatory. Why don't you try applying it instead of the estriol and see if it helps you too. Progesterone is also effective against Candida, whereas oestrogen encourages it. Another nutrient you could try is tyrosine, there's more info on our page about Natural Antidepressants. I'm not sure if your thoughts are buzzing while trying to fall asleep, if so the tyrosine might help. Vitamin D is another nutrient you could try, it's low in insomnia, see here and here. I also suggest increasing the amount of progesterone you're using, I don't believe it's enough. Take care Wray

Mar 08, 2013
DOES PROGESTERONE CAUSE SLEEP PROBLEM?
by: Anonymous

I am 42 year old, i just had my blood test done this year. Everything came out good, except progesterone was low. It was <0.5. I had sleep problem for many years. Do you think low progesterone can cause my sleep? I need help, please give any suggestions.
thanks

Mar 11, 2013
DOES PROGESTERONE CAUSE SLEEP PROBLEM?
by: Wray

Hi there Both low Progesterone and Vitamin D can cause sleep problems. Please consider using about 200mg/day progesterone and have a vitamin D test done. Once you know your level you'll know how much to take, no less than 5000iu per day. For more info on vitamin D levels, test kits etc see the Vitamin D Council, GrassrootsHealth and Birmingham Hospital. Blood levels should be 70-100ng/ml (175-250nmol/L) and not the 30ng/ml (75nmol/L) most labs and doctors regard as adequate. The minimum daily dose should be 5000iu's per day, although recent research indicates it should be 10,000iu's per day, see here. There's more info on our page How to use progesterone cream, Take care Wray


Jun 04, 2013
Bio identical progesterone
by: Sleep deprived

Hi, at the age of 51 I have always had fairly consistent sleep - around 8 hours.

A few months ago I took the pill (briefly) which led to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. In desperation I started taking bio identical hormones which initially (for a few days) led to some improvement. That was shortlived and for the last few months I have difficulty getting to sleep and staying a sleep.

In desperation I turned to Stillnox as prescribed by my doctor.

My dosage of bio identical progesterone was 150mg - it has just been increased to 300mg.

I took this dose last night for the first time and had NO SLEEP AT ALL. To make matters worse I was up and down all night long with the need to empty my bladder. I should add that I also stopped taking the Stillnox last night as I am fearful of side effects

To cut a long story short - I work full time and need to sleep in order to function. Now I don't know whether to cease the progesterone also - maybe that is contributing to my insomnia.

After three months averaging around 5 hours per night of often broken sleep (if I am lucky) and now after a night of no sleep at all my brain is so fuddled I don't know what to do.

Should I just go cold turkey and clear my body of the toxins that are leading to the insomnia? Isn't progesterone supposed to help me to sleep?

My most alert time is when I go to bed at night. maybe I just have to get used to no sleep?

Jun 05, 2013
Bio identical progesterone
by: Wray

Hi there All drug based Contraceptives have the potential to cause harm. It appears you're using oral progesterone, as you talk about taking it. Funnily enough oral progesterone is meant to help sleep, but in your case evidently not. But yes you are right progesterone does help sleep, see here, here and here. So too does vitamin D, see here and here. Please have a test done, it could be your level is too low. If you are taking oral progesterone is the least effective Delivery system, "The liver and gut region removed a mean of 96 per cent of the progesterone entering these tissues", see here. I suggest you empty the contents of the capsules and add it to a small amount of skin cream. Then apply that to your skin, you will get the full benefit of the progesterone, see here. I'm not sure if you are in Peri-menopause or Menopause, but these two pages give more info on how to use progesterone. Take care Wray

Aug 04, 2013
so tired
by: Sleep deprived

Hi Wray, I was taking the progesterone by troche - dissolved under the tongue. I did stop taking it after writing my first post. I went into a period of virtually NIL sleep and extreme anxiety after this. I didn't read your response until today. I even had to take a week off work - I was teary and very anxious.

I am getting a little more sleep now with the help of naturopathic medicine - but have not been able to recover my "usual" sleep. Often waking after 4 hours and sleeping very little or lightly after that time. I have just started taking progesterone oil - few drops on my tongue. Do you think that will work? I am too scared to go back to the bio-identical hormones as it so drastically affected my sleep and my breasts were so large and sore I was in a lot of discomfort. I almost feel like my sleep "clock" is so out of sync it doesn't know when to go to sleep .... can you suggest anything to help? I have been taking a naturopathic tonic; maca root, magnesium and adenosine (all natural medicines). I would just love to be able to get back to a deep sleep after waking as I used to be able to ....

Aug 04, 2013
so tired
by: Wray

Hi there Some progesterone gets absorbed by the lining of the mouth, but much is also swallowed. So you won't be getting much via a troche. I don't understand when you say you're scared about going back to bio-identical hormones, you are on one now via the drops! The amount in the drops is so small you still won't be getting enough. I've just re-read your first query, and the last line stood out..."My most alert time is when I go to bed at night". It seems you could have adrenal stress. Please consider taking 1/2tsp salt in some warm water before you go to bed. The adrenals need sodium to function correctly, it could be you don't have enough. Salt also helps sleep if the adrenals are stressed. This is an excellent article about it here. Take care Wray

Sep 13, 2013
@Fertilitynewyork
by: Sandy Potter

Glad to know Marie, that now you are better than before after using that cream. But My suggestion for you is its a delicate problem and cant be ignored. so you must refer a well experienced doctor for everything. And you should more conscious because it may affect your Ferility. And if it will happen then you surely go to the Fertility Treatment Center. Take the best care of yourself.Be healthy, God bless.


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