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What about Oral Progesterone for Sleep?

Last week’s video dove into the perhaps unexpected and negative effects of oral hormone supplementation on the body.  Check out that video here.  A great practitioner question came in:  what about oral progesterone used specifically for sleep?

A great question – and opportunity to challenge your learning!  Do you know why oral progesterone might help sleep?  Do you know why oral intake (vs. transdermal) might be so much more effective for countering insomnia – but only in some women?

Absolutely some women may indeed benefit tremendously from progesterone supplementation (e.g. late perimenopausal years).  Unfortunately there’s a growing trend of practitioners recommending it without even assessing hormones at all (or any other actual root cause of insomnia).    A low progesterone-to-estrogen ratio can definitely promote poor sleep (no shortage of data showing that!  here and here and here…)  But what if hormone levels are actually adequate:  what are alternatives that might address the same pathway that progesterone boosts?

We know that optimal sleep is a critical part of the functional medicine lifestyle!  No surprise to us, a new Consumer Reports survey said that a quarter of people have trouble falling or staying asleep nightly, and more than 2/3 struggle at least once a week.  And this gap promotes depression, heart disease, lowered immunity, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and more!

Beyond the pearls for this unique situation in the video, I also want you to have a powerful toolbox for helping ALL of your patients and clients sleep better.  By far, the most important, foundational intervention I have found for optimizing sleep is what, at SAFM, we call “sleep hygiene”.  I’ve got a great handout summarizing the tenets, and I’m sharing it right here for you as a free gift.  Remember:  detailed education can create the inspiration and empowerment that finally allows a patient to make and sustain important lifestyle change.  You are also welcome to check out one of the several posts about sleep available here in our public Clinical Tips area.

I know you want the practical details!  I usually recommend 500mg taurine (or one can use magnesium taurate and get the best of two key relaxation nutrients) taken an hour before bed.  L-theanine dosage to support sleep is typically 200-400mg (I usually recommend suntheanine, which is available in many brands).  For GABA in the form of phenibut, about 200-300mg is usually sufficient to relax into sleep (too much will be counter-productive – and lead to morning grogginess) e.g. Biotics or NeuroScience’s Kavinace (which is a blend of both taurine and phenibut).  I didn’t mention it in the video, but n-acetyl-cysteine may also be quite helpful for this particular dynamic of GABA-Glutamate balance.

Want to learn more about hormones?  Register for our next Core 101 Semester program and get access to the full spectrum of myth-busting, truth-simplifying education we share here at the School of Applied Functional Medicine! Learn More Here

I hope this is helpful to you and the patients and clients you serve!



P.S. If you know that healthcare must be transformed to be sustainable and effective, and you believe strongly that Functional Medicine is key to making that happen, we urge you to learn about our semester program.

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6 Questions for “What about Oral Progesterone for Sleep?”

  1. 3
    sharon chud says:

    Hello Tracy. I have put a client on Phenibut and for the first time, something worked to help her sleep. She also has a declining kidney function. She is over 60. Yes, kidney function declines with advanced age but I think hers is going down relatively fast. My question is could Phenibut worsen her kidney function? I searched and could not find any information on this. What is your opinion?

  2. 2
    Leslie Flanigan says:

    What about non-synthetic topical progesterone cream, i.e., extracted from Wild Yam?

  3. 1
    Kymberli Norman says:

    101 student. For intervention are the above supplements Tracy suggested recommended together? Or, trials to determine which help? Thank you!

    • 1.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Welcome to SAFM, Kymberli! Typically, supplement recommendations depend on each unique case and those described in the post are presented as potential tools for your (soon to be quite extensive) toolbox. Some of the presented supplements can be taken together, but rarely you would recommend all at once. I encourage you to start only with those that you understand and feel comfortable using. I know that you will gain more and more confidence and understanding with time, as you are going through the various SAFM required courses and clinical deep dives. Enjoy the learning process!

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