Can progesterone help with sleep disturbances?

by Rebecca
(Weyers Cave, VA, USA)

I am 30 years old and had my first child 17 months ago. I had a long, exhausting natural labor and delivery and ended up delivering an almost 10 lb. baby! I was so exhausted afterwards and was not attached to him at all at first. I struggled a lot with feelings of resentment, anxiety, frustration etc. in the first days of giving birth. I nursed him until he gave it up on his own at 10 months old. Then I went back on birth control - the generic version of Yasmin.

I was only on BC for 2 months, as I started experiencing insomnia, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. So I went off BC and have decided I will never subject myself to that again! But I have continued to struggle with sleep disturbances. It has gotten a little better by me cutting out refined sugar from my diet as well as changing to hormone-free raw milk and other hormone-free animal products. However, I do still continue to have sleep disturbances, especially during the luteal phase of my cycle. I chart my cycle and have noticed that I sleep better during the first part of my menstrual cycle but as soon as my temperature goes up (and I have ovulated) I start to have more restlessness at night for the rest of the cycle. I can fall asleep fine but then will wake up sometime between 2-4 a.m. and then cannot get back to sleep.

I went to my midwife about it but she said that I most likely did not have low progesterone since I have a regular cycle and that there was nothing they could do to treat it even if I did have low progesterone, short of fertility drugs. Is it possible that my sleep disturbances during the luteal phase are caused by low progesterone? I also have experienced little to no libido since I've had these sleep problems.

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Sep 15, 2009
Can progesterone help with sleep disturbances?
by: Wray

Hi Rebecca. The initial feelings you experienced were due to low progesterone. It drops sharply after giving birth, from a high of over 400ng/ml to nothing, in the space of a few hours. About 25% of women experience anything from baby blues to post natal psychosis. Serotonin levels also drop which adds to the problem. The BC prevents ovulation, which means no progesterone will be made, hence your problems with it.

Sugar is one of the main culprits behind depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. A drop in blood sugar overnight causes the adrenals to make adrenaline to bring blood glucose up, but adrenaline will wake you! Please avoid all carb foods at night, eat only protein, leaves, flowers like cauli, broccoli, stalks like celery, asparagus, sprouts etc.

See this web page on anxiety, it explains why it occurs.

I'm pleased you've cut out sugar, grains convert quickly to glucose and can be a problem for many. Excellent you're using raw milk and hormone free animal products too.

A regular cycle means nothing, your corpus luteum could be making too little, or you could be making too much oestrogen in the first half. Oestrogen peaks just before ovulation, then drops a little, then a smaller peak mid luteal phase. If your corpus luteum is making insufficient progesterone the effects of the high oestrogen will be felt. Progesterone does help libido, as it stimulates nitric oxide needed by both sexes for sexual enjoyment. With your many symptoms you will need a relatively high dose, between 100-200mg/day, applied twice a day to keep levels up. Take care, Wray

Sep 20, 2009
Do I use the progesterone cream all month?
by: Rebecca

Thank you so much for writing me back. It's so encouraging to finally find some help after going to a few Drs. about my insomnia.

You mentioned that I need a high dose of Natpro cream. Do I follow the procedure for only using it after ovulation still?

Also, I was wondering if there are any certain vitamins that are good for women with low progesterone. I know a few mom friends of mine take a B-complex vitamin to help them with energy levels. I don't like taking multi-vitamins because it seems unnatural to load my body with all that stuff but I was wondering if maybe I also need some kind of supplement along with the progesterone cream.

Thanks again! I really appreciate your advice and your website!

Sep 21, 2009
Do I use the progesterone cream all month?
by: Wray

Hi Rebecca. Thanks for the kind words! Yes, please use the cream at, or a day after ovulation, this supplements the progesterone you're making, or should be! A high dose used beforehand can prevent ovulation, and therefore prevent progesterone being made. I know how you feel about taking supplements, but they are essential now. Even an organic diet won't give you sufficient nutrients to combat the pollution we live with now. The B vitamins in particular are so important, any stress drops levels. Stress also slows down digestion, so even eating organic food you won't be absorbing enough. If you have low energy you might like to look at this web page. And don't forget the amino acid tryptophan if you find the progesterone not helping fast enough. Take care.

Dec 01, 2009
Night time hunger at ovulation and before period
by: Rebecca

Hi Wray, thanks again for your help and for answering my questions. Since you told me about the oestrogen peaking before ovulation also I have started to notice symptoms that I have the few days before I ovulate. Basically it's just like my PMS week - I wake up at 4 am and am SO hungry no matter what I try to eat before bedtime and no matter what I cut out of my diet in the evenings. And I also feel more anxiety and moodiness. Is this something that I just have to suffer through since I can't start using the Natpro cream until after ovulation every month? Or is there something else that could help my symptoms before I ovulate?

Also I finally found a nurse practitioner in my area who will test for hormones and then use compounded "bioidentical" hormone creams based on the blood test findings. She wants to test me around day 20 of my cycle for multiple hormones and also my thyroid. Are the bioidentical creams useful and safe?

And finally you had recommended me taking a B vitamin at one point and I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to a good one to use - should it be a whole foods vitamin? Thanks again!

Jan 31, 2010
Night time hunger at ovulation and before period
by: Wray

Hi Rebecca. Sorry about the late reply, but I can't keep up with the questions coming in! It's interesting you've noticed the same 'PMS' symptoms before ovulation, it stands to reason. The best meal at night is protein and veggies, avoid at all costs any starchy, high carb foods. These drop your blood sugar too fast, too low, hence the hunger. Just before bed you could take either 4000mg glutamine, this stabilises blood sugar. Or tryptophan, this controls appetite. It could be you're not eating enough in your food, it's the runt of the amino acids, and gets shunted aside by the others. It also drops after giving birth in many women. It must not be taken with protein food or other aminos, so it's best to take it 1/2 hr or so before sleep. Blood or saliva tests will only show how much of any one hormone is in your body, it will not tell you or anyone else how you feel! Symptoms are always the best guide.

If you do use them avoid both oestrogen and testosterone, I've had to help so many come off them to regain health. You might like to read this web page.

As for the B vits, Solgar make a good one, so does LEF. Take care, Wray

Jan 05, 2014
extreme insomnia and only 4% and less rem at nite
by: Carrie

I have been suffering since 2000. i have one day a month that i feel like i get restful sleep and its 1 to 3 days prior to my flow. Ive been diagnosed with sleep apnea, insomnia, and hyper sensitivity to lite at nite. I read on the advice that progesterone cream would help but only to use it a couple of days. what can i do for the rest of the month. i was told by a neurologist that the reason for the good sleep right before my flow is due to hormone inbalance. id like to have restful sleep more than 1 day a month and not wake up umpteen times a night and deal with ravishing hunger and have any tiny amount of lite awaken me as well. I am suffering. can someone help.

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