Nancy Dell: Menopause and valerian root; Poor sleep and weight gain

1. I am going through menopause and having trouble sleeping. Any suggestions? 
Cindy, Internet

Poor sleep is one of the issues that go along with menopause.  Then if you do not sleep well, you will gain weight and just feel lousy. According to new research published in the journal Menopause, valerian root may help menopausal women sleep better.

Researchers at Tehran University randomly assigned 100 postmenopausal women with insomnia to take either two valerian capsules or an inactive placebo capsules every day.  After 1 month, 30 percent of the women taking valerian reported an improvement in their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep compared to just 4 percent of women taking a placebo.  Both groups had no side effects.

Valerian root was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans but modern science is split on whether the herb works. Some studies show it works and some show it doesn’t.  Chances are the effectiveness varies person to person and the researches say “it can’t hurt to try valerian root”.

There is good evidence that yoga, tai chi and acupressure can help with sleep.

2. Why does poor sleep result in weight gain? 
Gina, Internet

People who sleep poorly or get too little sleep make 80 percent less of a hormone that helps to shut off hunger. A study at St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital shows people who slept just 4 hours a night ate 329 more calories a day.

In a second study night owls who still got 7 hours of sleep but stayed up late, ate 248 more calories a day.

So researcher conclude that poor sleep makes you eat more and you can better manage your weight if you go to bed relatively early and sleep for 7 to 8 hours.

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