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Herbal remedies, supplements and tips for better sleep during menopause

Changing levels of reproductive hormones during and after the menopause transition can lead to insomnia and other sleep problems. Menopause symptoms like night sweats and anxiety only make things worse.

There’s an increasing amount of evidence that certain traditional herbal remedies could help with menopause sleep problems and related symptoms.

In this article we’ll assess six natural remedies:

  • ashwagandha
  • chamomile
  • valerian
  • lemon balm
  • tart cherry
  • passionflower

We’ll also consider some other supplements that may help you sleep better, as well as lifestyle changes that could improve both your sleep and overall health during menopause.

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Natural remedies that may help with menopause sleep problems

These herbal remedies all have a long history of use for sleep problems in traditional medicine.

We’ll assess the evidence that they can improve your sleep during menopause, and look at how some of them could also help with other menopause symptoms that contribute to poor sleep.  

1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

The root of the shrub ashwagandha – also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry – has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The somnifera part of its Latin name means ‘sleep-inducing’ and there’s science to support this.

A review of multiple studies found that participants who took daily ashwagandha supplements got to sleep more easily, slept for longer and woke up later. These improvements were greater for people who had been diagnosed with insomnia, and for those who took ashwagandha for at least 8 weeks.

Research also suggests that ashwagandha can reduce measures of anxiety, another menopause symptom that often contributes to sleep problems.

How much you take could make a difference, too. One study found that while a total daily dose of 250 milligrams (mg )was linked to improvements in both sleep and anxiety, results were even better for people who took 600 mg.

2. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

The golden flowers of the chamomile plant are one of the world’s oldest herbal remedies, probably best known for their use in soothing chamomile teas.

Research suggests that supplements containing concentrated extracts of chamomile may be effective for improving sleep, including in women who have been through menopause.

In one study, postmenopausal women with sleep problems took 30 drops of chamomile twice a day for 4 weeks. They got to sleep more quickly, woke up less often during the night and slept for longer.

There’s also evidence that drinking chamomile tea twice a day may reduce anxiety levels, which is another factor that could help improve your sleep.

3. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

The root of the herb valerian has been used since the time of ancient Greece and Rome to treat insomnia and calm the nerves. Today it’s a common ingredient in herbal teas.

Although valerian has a reputation for helping you sleep, when researchers have studied its effects the results have been mixed.

One review of 16 different studies concluded that valerian might improve sleep quality but that more research was needed. Another review found that none of the most recent studies had shown that valerian had any significant effects on sleep.

When it comes to studies involving postmenopausal women, the picture is just as unclear. One small study involving older women with insomnia found that taking valerian supplements for two weeks didn’t improve their sleep.

In another, a combination of valerian and fennel extract appeared to improve sleep quality, but also increased hot flashes. However, other studies have suggested that valerian on its own may improve hot flashes.

One thing studies do agree on is that valerian is generally safe to take, so you may want to try it for yourself.

4. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is a fragrant herb, high in antioxidants. It’s used in traditional Middle Eastern medicine for its digestive and sedative properties.

Several studies have focused specifically on lemon balm’s effects on sleep during menopause, with results suggesting it can help some women.  

In one study, menopausal women with insomnia took 250 mg of lemon balm extract twice a day. After 1 month, 20% had seen an improvement in their quality of sleep, with significantly better average sleep scores in the lemon balm group compared with placebo.

Even better results were seen in studies where participants took a supplement containing both lemon balm and valerian. One reported improvements in 36% of women. In another, researchers concluded that the combination of herbs may help improve sleep and reduce sleep disorders in menopausal women.

5. Tart cherry (Prunus cerasus)

Tart cherry – also known as sour cherry or dwarf cherry – is exactly what it sounds like: a species of cherry with a more acidic taste. It also has high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds called anthocyanins.

The most common variety of tart cherry is Montmorency, which is often consumed as a juice as well as in concentrated supplements.

There aren’t many studies looking at the effects of tart cherry in menopausal women but other research suggests it can have benefits for people with sleep problems.

In one small trial, participants drank concentrated tart cherry juice each day for a week. Not only did they sleep for longer, and more efficiently, they also increased their levels of the sleep hormone melatonin.

A similar-sized study involving older adults with chronic insomnia found that participants who drank cherry juice were able to get to sleep significantly faster, but saw only minor improvements in other measures of sleep quality.

A review pulling together the results of multiple studies concluded that, although participants didn’t always feel that tart cherry helped with their sleep, there was evidence that it did improve objective measures like total sleep time and sleep efficiency.

6. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower is a climbing vine with exotic flowers that was originally used as a sedative by native South Americans. It’s available as tea or as an extract in supplements.

While not all research supports passionflower’s reputation for improving sleep, some studies have recorded significant increases in total sleep time, and smaller improvements in other measures.

Others have even reported that relatively low doses – just one cup of passionflower tea each day – had short-term sleep benefits for some people.

Passionflower may also help with other menopause symptoms. In one study, 60 drops of a passionflower extract each day – including 30 drops before bed – was found to improve a combination of mood and sleep problems, as well as hot flashes.

Other supplements for menopause sleep problems

Available as supplements, these different chemical compounds may help you sleep more easily, better or longer, and could make you feel more awake the next day.

  • Melatonin: The hormone melatonin is produced naturally by your brain when it gets dark. It helps with the functioning of your body clock and with sleep. If you have insomnia and are over 55, your doctor may prescribe melatonin supplements for short-term use.
  • Magnesium: This mineral also plays a role in regulating your body clock. Observational studies suggest that people who consume more magnesium tend to get more and better sleep. In a small clinical trial, older people who took a daily magnesium supplement got to sleep more quickly, slept for longer, had better quality sleep and increased their melatonin levels.
  • L-theanine: The main source of this amino acid is green tea, so if you’re looking for a natural remedy, you may want to add it to your diet. However, research suggests that concentrated L-theanine supplements could help you get to sleep faster and sleep for longer. In one study, postmenopausal women who took it reported feeling more refreshed each morning.
  • 5-HTP: L-5-hydroxytryptophan, better known as 5-HTP, is another amino acid used by your body to produce melatonin, as well as the mood hormone serotonin. Studies involving older adults have found that 5-HTP supplements can help you get to sleep more easily but that the effect wears off after 23 months’ use, suggesting your body may adapt to the changes in levels.
  • PEA: Palmitoylethanolamide, or PEA for short, is a fatty acid amide – a type of fat molecule – involved in numerous functions, including sleep. According to one study, taking a daily PEA supplement can help you get to sleep more easily, feel fully awake more quickly, and improve your mental sharpness the next morning.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics are ‘friendly’ bacteria that can have a range of benefits around your body by improving your gut health. The specific strains of bacteria in The Better Gut probiotics have been shown in studies to help with menopause symptoms including sleep problems, anxiety and night sweats.

Lifestyle tips for better sleep during menopause

Herbal remedies and supplements aren’t the only way to help improve your sleep. These lifestyle changes can all make a difference to how well you sleep and your overall health:

  • Improve your diet: A balanced diet containing the right plant compounds, healthy fats and fibres can help with sleep problems during menopause. It can also improve other symptoms that contribute to poor sleep, like night sweats and anxiety. Try to eat a wide variety of vegetables, including leafy greens, beans and pulses, and nuts and seeds. Swap refined grains for whole grains. Choose oily fish and lean meat like chicken or turkey. And limit ultra-processed foods and those with added sugar.
  • Exercise regularly: A review of 17 different studies found that regular exercise significantly reduced insomnia and other sleep problems in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Aerobic exercise – like brisk walking, running, cycling or swimming – and resistance training, such as weight training or bodyweight exercises, are both great ways to improve your sleep and general health.
  • Try cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT is a talking therapy that helps you change the way you think and behave. A specific type of CBT – CBT-I – focuses on insomnia. It’s been shown to reduce insomnia and increase sleep time in postmenopausal women and can be more effective in the long term than prescription drugs. CBT is available on the NHS. You can refer yourself or ask your doctor to refer you.
  • Practice good ‘sleep hygiene’: Improving your bedtime habits can boost your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Don’t watch TV or use your phone in bed. Keep your room quiet, dark and not too warm. Avoid caffeine later in the day and limit alcohol. And if you get night sweats, keep water and a fan by your bed. See a full list of tips here.
  • Don’t smoke: The nicotine in tobacco and vapes is a stimulant that could stop you from getting to sleep properly, while withdrawal symptoms can also keep you awake. Tobacco smokers have an increased risk of nighttime breathing problems too. Not surprising, then, that smoking has been linked to insomnia and sleep disturbances during menopause. For help and support quitting, visit the NHS guide.

How long does menopause insomnia last?

During perimenopause – the transition to menopause – your levels of reproductive hormones like oestrogen and progesterone go up as well as down, fluctuating unpredictably. So if your sleep problems are related to your hormone changes, they could come and go, and might last for days or weeks at a time.

Every woman experiences perimenopause and menopause differently. Some may not have insomnia during perimenopause but then find it starts after they reach menopause. For others, it can be the reverse.

However, because reduced levels of oestrogen and progesterone are both linked to worse sleep, problems during perimenopause may well continue after menopause, when your levels of these hormones drop permanently low.

The good news is that some of the herbal remedies, supplements and lifestyle changes we’ve looked at could help. If your symptoms are particularly troublesome, your doctor may also prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT).


Natural herbal remedies including ashwagandha, chamomile, lemon balm and tart cherry may all reduce sleep problems, which are a common symptom of menopause. Valerian and passionflower might help too, although research results are more mixed.

Other supplements, including magnesium, melatonin, L-theanine, 5-HTP and PEA have also been shown to improve sleep.

Lifestyle changes like regular exercise, improving your diet, better sleep hygiene, cognitive behavioural therapy and stopping smoking are all great ways to improve your health through menopause.

Award-winning probiotic supplements The Better Gut can help with a range of menopause symptoms, including sleep problems, anxiety and night sweats.

Get 10% off your first order here.