110: Karen Martel, Certified Hormone Specialist & Nutrition Coach: Are Your Hormones Keeping You Up At Night?

Join me as we learn from Karen Martel, a certified hormone specialist and transformational nutrition coach. She hosts the popular women's health podcast, "The Other Side of Weight Loss," where she unlocks the mysteries surrounding female fat loss and hormone balance. 

In this episode, Karen shares her struggles with sleep deprivation and other health issues, which ignites her passion for empowering women with a new perspective on hormonal health. She gives us valuable insights into the crucial roles of estrogen and progesterone in women's health. 

We also dive into the significance of testing for hormonal imbalances and how & when to do it for the most value. Additionally, we discuss sleep apnea in women and the risks involved, even without visible symptoms (and how your hormones might be playing a role!). Don't miss out on this enlightening and informative episode!


Karen Martel is a Certified Hormone Specialist & Transformational Nutrition Coach and women’s weight loss expert.

Karen is the host of the top-rated women’s health podcast The Other Side of Weight Loss where she helps women to unlock the mysteries of female fat loss and hormone imbalance.

After struggling with her own health issues, Karen was determined to bring her knowledge to others with a bold new approach to women’s hormone health and weight management. Karen’s passion lies in helping women balance and optimize their hormones in peri and post menopause and breakthrough weight loss resistance.

In this episode, we discuss:

😴  Karen Martel's struggle with sleep deprivation and health issues as a new mom 

😴  How Karen made the connections between hormonal imbalances and her insomnia

😴  What are the must-do tests and how often are they recommended for hormonal testing?

😴  The vital role of estrogen and progesterone in women's health

😴  Significance of hormonal therapy replacement?

😴  Sleep apnea in women (particularly as they age!), with or without symptoms.

😴  What is Karen’s sleep-night routine?

😴 Try Karen’s hormone quiz on her website https://karenmartel.com/


Huge shoutout to our sponsor: Biooptimizers!

They are my nightly source of magnesium supplementation

go to www.magbreakthrough.com/sleepisaskill for the kind I use every night!


Website: https://karenmartel.com

Instagram: @karenmartelhormones


DISCLAIMER:The information contained on this podcast, our website, newsletter, and the resources available for download are not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. The information contained on these platforms is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.

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Welcome to the Sleep is a Skill podcast. My name is Mollie McGlocklin, and I own a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability and behavioral change. Each week I'll be interviewing world class experts, ranging from doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper.

Let's jump into your dose of practical sleep training.

Welcome to the Sleep is a Skill podcast. I am your host, Mollie Eastman, and today we are jumping in with my guest, Karen Martel, a certified hormone specialist and transformational nutrition coach. Women's weight loss expert. Karen is the host of the top rated Women's Health podcast, the other side of weight loss, where she helps women to unlock the mysteries of female fat loss and hormone imbalance.

After struggling with her own health issues, Karen was determined to bring her knowledge to others with a. Bold new approach to women's hormone health and weight management. Karen's passion lies in helping women balance and optimize their hormones in peri and post-menopause and breakthrough weight loss resistance.

Now, as a quick aside, Karen is a dear friend of mine. We are both in a small mastermind group together, and I have learned so much from Karen and I'm really excited for her to share. Her insights and wisdom with this community. As always, if you have any questions, head on over to sleep as a skill.com. In our lower right hand corner, there's a little sleep bot where you can ask any and all questions, and we're going to start doing some q and a episodes on here.

So we will make sure that your question gets answered live and on air. So without further ado, let's jump into the podcast. So I get a lot of questions around sleep supplements, and I'm very hesitant to just throw out a whole laundry list of possibilities. One, I don't think it's the most responsible thing to do.

I really do believe in testing to see what types of supplements make sense for you. And two, because I really truly believe that most of the things that you can do to improve your sleep are behavioral, psychological, environmental in nature, and often don't cost a dime. However, there is one supplement that I personally take every day and that I do feel quite comfortable with suggesting for most individuals to experiment with because of couple of reasons.

It's high safety profile and high rates of deficiencies in our modern society. Some put the numbers as somewhere around 80% of the population being deficient in this one area, and that is magnesium. So magnesium has been called the calming mineral, and some report that magnesium can increase gaba, which encourages relaxation on a cellular level, which is critical for sleep.

Magnesium also plays a key role in regulating our body's stress response system. Those with magnesium deficiency usually have higher anxiety and stress levels, which negatively impacts sleep as well. Now before you go out and buy a magnesium supplement, it's important to understand that most magnesium products out there are either synthetic or they only have one to two forms of magnesium.

When in reality, your body needs all seven forms of this essential sleep mineral. So that's why I recommend a product from my friends over at Bio Optimizers. They have created something called the Magnesium Breakthrough, and taking this magnesium before bed helps you relax and wake up, refresh and energize.

And while we don't recommend that you go two nuts on looking at all the sleep stage classifications on all your wearables. I will share anecdotally that many clients have reported improvements in their deep sleep trend numbers. Again, I don't want you going nuts on the sleep stage classification numbers on your wearables, but I do wanna let you know about that because I know that many of you do reach out on questions of how to improve your deep sleep.

So I also love that bio optimizers offers free shipping on select orders, and they offer a 365 day money back guarantee on all their products. Plus they have a customer satisfaction rating of 99.3%. Very impressive. And you can get 10% off magnesium breakthrough. Again, this is the same magnesium that I use every single night.

And finally, you can get 10% off magnesium breakthrough. Again, that's the magnesium supplement that I use every single night by going to www dot mag m a g. So mag breakthrough.com/sleep as a skill, and be sure to use the code sleep as a skill for 10% off. And welcome to the Sleep is a Skill Podcast. My guest today, Karen Martel, thank you so much for taking the time to be here, and you are a dear friend, so I'm really excited to be able to go in deeper with you on your knowledge.

I've had the opportunity of learning from you in various aspects, but this is gonna be a real gift to be able to go in deeper on. Hormones and sleep. So thank you so much for being here. Oh, well I'm so pleased to be here, Mollie. So exciting. I've been waiting for this. I've been waiting for our conversation.

Oh, exciting. I'm excited. I really am excited and I have to, you know, really catch myself cuz just about every podcast I'm like, oh yeah, I'm so excited for this conversation, blah. And, but I genuinely am brilliant. I know. So I just gotta say that. So. Alright. Having a good podcast. Pastors, we'd enjoy what we do.

Cause I'm the same way. I'm like, whoa, that's a blessing. This so exciting. I'm gonna imagine this person. Right, right. I mean, I do, it does not pass by me. The privilege that this is to be able to have this time with you to go in deeper on this conversation and this topic. So thank you. I know you've got, you know, decades and decades of knowledge in this area.

So maybe we can start there just a little bit about yourself. How you found yourself in this line of business, why you have this passion in this area. Yeah. Cause I feel like I'm a little bit of an insomnia expert myself. Okay, let's go. Perfect. Yes, please. I always tell people that when they come at me with their, like, I have insomnia.

I'm like, well, you're talking to the right girl because I know everything there is to know about insomnia. At least I feel until I met you. Then I'm like, oh, I don't know anything about it. No, I do. I do. No, no, definitely do. Yes. Let's hear it all. Amazing. So my insomnia story, which is does relate to today's conversation, but we're gonna go dive way deeper into it.

Sure. But, um, mine happened of course after Childs after my first baby. Yes. Which I think is very typical for many health. Issues to arise. Yeah. And so it was about a year after having my daughter when I was in my young thirties, 31 I think I was when I had her and did the whole like, okay, you know, it was up breastfeeding all night.

And I definitely know that that was part of what started it, which was I was a bit of a worrying kind of mom and so. I constantly was like scared my baby wasn't breathing, and so I like every little tiny noise. I would immediately wake up and be in full alert. And I did this for over a year, and so I think that was where it kind of started was that I had this like very fragile.

Stress response. Yeah. You know that any noise at all. I was like up adrenaline running, like, what's going on? I gotta go to my child sort of thing. And then it, interesting enough, I stopped breastfeeding and everything was going okay and then that suddenly it was like all these health problems kind of came falling down around me all within probably two months and things like, I suddenly had really bad digestive problems.

I was having severe migraines that would last over a week at a time. I got depressed. I had really bad PM s I was starting to gain weight without having changed anything and I. Then the insomnia hit. Mm-hmm. And it was like nothing I'd ever experienced. Like up until then, it was definitely starting to creep up where it would be like, oh, I have to just take some melatonin and altheine and to get myself asleep and that would work.

Sure. And then suddenly it was like, it honestly felt like a, a light switch. Went on and I couldn't turn it off. And I would try and go to sleep at nighttime and I could not fall asleep at all till usually about three or four o'clock in the morning. So it was all night. And here I have, I'm like a single mom of this, you know, one and a half year old and having to get up, you know, at seven o'clock in the morning with her.

And so it was horrible. And at that time I tried. Everything that you could possibly think of to help me sleep and to help with all my other health problems. And you know, I started dieting and exercising like crazy and doing all this, you know, crazy stuff. Like I was got a personal trainer, I was going to boot camps.

I was doing like CrossFit workout, which when you hear this is all the wrong things that I could be doing, I was cutting my calories. All of this perpetuated a lot of the hormonal shifts that were happening for my body at this time. And so eventually I got on actually sleeping medication mm-hmm. To help me sleep.

Mm-hmm. Cause nothing, I mean, I tried everything, everything natural. I tried it. I tried sleep training, I tried cognitive therapy, I tried whatever there is out there. I tried it like the beats, the Oh binary. Beats binary. Yep. Tried that and it was just like, My brain just suddenly went on and it couldn't shut off.

And it was, there was nothing, it was the weirdest thing. I could not sleep at all. Mm-hmm. And I finally went to a naturopath and I said, I think there's something hormonally wrong with me. Yeah. And at this point in time, you know, almost 33, and no doctor, you know, when I went to them had said like, oh, maybe this is hormonal because I was young.

Mm. Anyways, so my hormones came back that I had very low cortisol. I had very low D H E A, which is another of one of our stress hormones. Mm. I had a whole bunch of astrogen. I had no progesterone, and we're gonna get into why that's a problem when it comes to sleep. Sure. So my body was on this like high alert, running on adrenaline.

I had no cortisol. I had no progesterone, which was very calming. And so I think it was just kind of this perfect storm that happened inside my body and it, and it ended up, I was actually on medication to sleep for 10 years. I never went and tried to do anything about it because I was being given the sleeping pills, and so I just took them.

Yeah. Yeah. We know how that goes. Wonderful. Yes, exactly. Yeah. Which is terrible. And then my doctor actually pulled me off of them a couple years ago, and so I was forced to kind of go, oh, okay, maybe I need to find something else. And I was able to get rid of the insomnia for the most part. So that was good.

And we can get into what I've done to do that, but yeah, please. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right now. Okay. Um, oh yeah. Yes, absolutely. Oh, that's so funny. So what was interesting was a couple years back, It did suddenly just leave my insomnia. Mm. And I could tell it was the weirdest thing. Even though I was on medication, I could tell, and I was on Ambien, I think is what you guys call it.

We call something. Yes, we did. Yeah. Ambien. Luta. Yeah. So I was on a very low dose. I was on boat. I think it was what, three and a half milligrams. And it was just, just to induce sleep. Once I was asleep, I could stay asleep. Okay. And it just suddenly left. It was the weirdest thing. And I had about two months where I was.

I just, I went completely cold Turkey. After 10 years, I just stopped the medication and it was, I was fine. It was the weirdest thing. It was like the light switch flipped off. Hmm. And I was like, what happened? What did I do? I have no idea. Couple months later it flipped back on. So I went back on the medication and then she pulled me off of it because of some new research that was coming out that it could lead to Alzheimer's and dementia and, and I was like, well, lack of sleep leads to Alzheimer's and dementia, but fine.

Mm-hmm. I'll go off of it. Yes. And I luckily tried right around the same time T H C became legal in Canada. Mm. And I tried the CBD b D thing, did nothing. Yeah, and somebody said, you have to try these, this type of t h c, and it was an indica t h c, and it was just like these drops, and so, you know, I don't like to get stoned.

So I was like, eh. Anyways, that was enough, like a couple drops of that, like maybe four milligrams. Mm-hmm. Was enough to induce sleep, and that's what I've been using in combination with the occasional zon ambient when I travel or if I, you know, if I'm having a bad night. So I still use it sometimes, but I've definitely been able to get rid of that in induced sleep problem.

Sure. Which has been great. And then I've, for the last 10 years, and this sounds very strange too, but for the last 10 years I've set an alarm to go to the bathroom every night. And this has really helped and I hope this can help somebody that's listening. If you're the kind of person that gets up in the, you know, early morning hours at.

Four o'clock, three o'clock in the morning and you can't then go back to sleep after you go to the bathroom, set your alarm for four hours after you go to sleep. It's just a quiet alarm. And so I've done this. I've go, I have to get up to go pee anyway, so it was, I just have to set it so it's no longer than four hours after I go to bed.

And so I said it. I get up, I go pee, and I can always go back to sleep. If I don't do that, I wake up at three o'clock in the morning and I'm one of those that'll take me two hours to go back to bed. Interesting. And this was like a trial and error, you know, kind of, I, I read, read it somewhere, read ok. I read it somewhere where someone said, if you keep waking up at the same time every night to start setting your alarm a little ways before it so you can, and then just keep kind of inching it up until you're not waking up at that time anymore.

Just to fool the clock, basically the cortisol clock. Interesting. Okay, so how did you discover these correlations between the hormonal kind of upset you got your readouts back those years back when you had some of these kind of concerning discoveries around your hormonal balance? And then walk us through how that relates to sleep.

For anyone listening, what age ranges do we need to be kind of concerned about? This kind of just the, the 1 0 1 on hormones and sleep. Yeah, because it is very common for it to start in women when they're in their thirties as well as postpartum. Because postpartum we tend, we'll after we have our, our, all of our hormones are estrogen and progesterone plummet.

Yeah. And we'll actually, like I just had a woman just before this conversation who's just coming, you know, she was in post her postpartum year and you looked at her. Estrogen and progesterone and she didn't have any, and it was, she was breastfeeding at that time. And so, you know, when we're pregnant they go super, super high.

You have the baby and they crash. And some of us are more sensitive to that than others. So it can happen with pregnancy or as we age. Usually. Typically over the age of 35, 38 seems to be like the magic number, but it's always around 38. Oh, great. My 30 birthday coming up. Fantastic. Look, know what to do though..

This is okay. Okay, great. Yeah. Knowledge is power. Let's go. Well, women don't realize that. That's when perimenopause typically shirts. Yeah. Yes. And they're like, what? Like everybody thinks it's in their, like, well into their forties, maybe fifties even, that it's gonna start, but we're starting to see it start earlier and earlier because of all of the toxic load that we're having right now.

And it's affecting all of our hormones. We have so many like fake hormone. To chemicals in our environment that it's really affecting women right now and men, but like we're seeing it in women, more and more fertility's on the rise. And so as we age, we start to lose our eggs. We come into this world with a certain amount of eggs.

As we age, we lose more and more and they get, you know, just crappier quality, we'll call it just like worse quality. You said a technical term. I love quality goes down crappy quality outta my proverbial egg garden. Exactly. And so as we age into our later thirties is very common for women to not. Ovulate as much, and you have when you ovulate, as when you release these eggs that can then be fertilized and we can get pregnant.

So up until then, we're typically what we see is that women don't have a problem. We were ovulate every month. And then as we head into our later thirties, yeah, we're not gonna ovulate as much. And when we don't ovulate, we don't produce progesterone. So we suddenly get this imbalance, whether it's from just having a baby or because you're aging and you're losing your eggs or your egg quality is going down.

You're now not producing progesterone. So why does that matter? Well, progesterone, one of its metabolites, which, uh, metabolites just means how is your, your progesterone is released and then we, you have to break it down in the body and then we pee it out. One of the metabolites from the breakdown process actually reacts on the GABA receptors in the brain.

Hmm. And I'm sure you've talked lots about GABA in this podcast. It's the supplement that's often used for sleep. Yeah. So women will suddenly go, why am I not sleeping when they're in their late thirties and they'll notice that some months are worse than others. And it seems like the closer they get to their period, the less they start to sleep or the more insomnia that they're going to experience.

And so this is because you're not producing the same amount of progesterone that you use to produce. And so yeah, it's very calming, progesterone's, very anti-anxiety. Because of that. Because of that, how it reacts on gaba. So your anxiety goes up and then you're not having the nice calming effects on the brain anymore to help you go to sleep, and you're not able to buffer even the cortisol anymore.

Yeah. Now there's a little bit of a. Myth that that cortisol will steal progesterone, which isn't true, but cortisol is made from progesterone, and so it just, it does affect the production of cortisol. And then as we get into our forties, Then progesterone gets even more down, like it will drop even farther and estrogen then becomes dominant.

And it's not that we have too much, just in comparison to that progesterone, it's too much because we don't have any progesterone. And progesterone is like the yang to the yang of estrogen. Mm-hmm. We needed it buffers it. It helps estrogen's. A growth hormone. Progesterone stops that growth. So it's very breast protective, very uterine protective, very brain protective.

And so we really want it, and there's things that we can do to help our own body to produce progesterone during our fertile years. Like for you and being 38 mm, there's great things that you could take that could help your own production of progesterone. So you could that, and then in turn that would help you to sleep.

Mm. But as you begin to age and your ovaries speaking to, you know, stop functioning, yeah. Then there's, then we do not produce. Progesterone out of the ovaries anymore, it it, or out of the our eggs anymore because we have none. Right, right. Little bit is made in the spinal cord and a little bit out of the adrenal glands, but mainly we're just, we're gonna lose our progesterone so that, you know, once we get into our forties and it's a matter of our ovaries not ovulating.

We're not ovulating anymore. And then at that point, there's no amount of herbals that can bring that back. We can't. There's nothing you can take to keep your ovarian function. There just isn't. And then as you age, we start to lose estrogen. Mm-hmm. And this is really, really important. Estrogen has a really bad wrap out there.

Everybody thinks that estrogen's making them fat. Everybody thinks they're estrogen dominant. Right? Estrogen dominance is like, The most. I think every single woman, honestly, that I speak to thinks she's estrogen dominant and she could be menopausal and she thinks she's estrogen dominant, and I'm like, you don't have estrogen.

And so this is very important and we can get into this. But yeah. Is there any questions before I continue? Yeah, no, I appreciate this. You're just dropping gold. So first off, I'm curious if you, when you are looking at individuals that are dealing with this is, are there particular kind of common buckets that we go into of different age ranges where there's common things to be on the lookout for?

So you mentioned this kind of magic number that often happens. It's not to say that this is. For every human, but somewhere around the 38 range. And then are there certain other milestone, maybe age ranges? Yes. Or things for us to be aware of that you might address and help support people with their hormone balance and on the sleep front, of course some of the things that we can do to support these changes.

And then you also mentioned there's periods of time when then just things really do shift. That sounds like that might be outside of the realm of just. Supplements or lifestyle, maybe there's some other things. So if you can walk us through Yeah. How you think about this, depending on where people fall.

Yeah. So typically after the age of 35, you're not going to ovulate every month. That's very typical. So some months you will, some months you won't. So some months you're gonna produce progesterone. Some months you don't. One of the other typical signs that we see is one weight gain. A little bit of weight gain will happen in women in their later thirties when they haven't changed anything.

They haven't changed their diet, they haven't changed their work. Routine and they're like, oh, I just gained five pounds. What happened? So that's a very common thing. Another one is heavy bleeding. We'll see women that will suddenly say that their periods are super heavy. They're clotting, they're cramping really bad.

And this is because once again, estrogens. This growth hormone. So estrogen grows your uterine lining. While progesterone's needed to stop that growth and to help us to shed the lining, which is your period, when you get your period, so without progesterone, you get uncontrolled growth, which means you're gonna have more of a lining, which means you're gonna have more of a period, more clotting, heavier cramps.

So that's a very big sign. Um, fibroids can start to develop because you're more estrogen dominant. We can see more ovarian cysts. So this is the time where a lot of women end up getting hysterectomies. Cause the doctor says, well, let's just rip it out. You know, who needs a uterus? I love how this has become accepted over the years and just in normal it's very common.

Yeah, sure. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I read it was like 75% of women or something crazy. You see? Like it was ridiculous. It was, it's one of the most overused surgeries. And it doesn't fix anything. It's not fixing the root of the problem. You're just ripping out the uterus, which they'll say, oh, you don't need that.

But as soon as that uterus is gone, the ovaries are gonna start to deteriorate faster because there's no not enough blood flow of thanks to the uterus that should be there. Sure. And I always say, you know, if this was a man's problem, And he said, you know, with any sort of gynecological problem that they had, as if we would ever say, well, let's just, let's just take your balls out.

Like who needs your balls? It would just never happen. Never. But you have, for women, it's like, yeah, sure. Just rip it out, it's fine. Like it, and it's not fine at all. So that's typically what happens. Because women are bleeding, they'll just start bleeding constantly. They'll get their periods like every two weeks, and it's just this uncontrolled thing that starts to happen.

And so at that point in time, there is a lot that you can do. And I always say, you know, diet always has to come first. We have to make sure that we're healthy, that we're exercising, that we're making sure that. We're eating the right foods for our body and for our hormone types and all that good stuff.

One thing that women can take is Vitex at that time, um, Vitex and things like dm, dand, methane, calcium d glu crate. This really helps to balance out that us to process the estrogen better and help boost our progesterone production. So that can be extremely helpful during those years and can do a lot lowering stress.

Like watching those cortisol levels is super important because the adrenal system will take the brunt of the loss of the hormones. So we can produce some of these hormones through the adrenal system. But if your adrenal system's running on cortisol constantly and you're constantly in that fight or flight, your body's gonna.

Preferential, making that cortisol over your progesterone, estrogen, testosterone. So this is the the time in a woman's life where you cannot get away with what you used to get away with as far as stress. And this will majorly impact your sleep patterns. Not only just the progesterone going down and we don't have that nice buffer on our GABA receptors.

We also with. Our cortisol, if it's going up and we can't tolerate it like we used to. Like we can't do what we did in our twenties, in our forties. We just cannot all We can't. Yeah. Our adrenal system can't take it. Yeah. And so we started to see women either go too high with their. Cortisol or they go too low is very common for women once they get th into perimenopause farther and into menopause to have too high of cortisol because estrogen really helps to control our cortisol levels and helps with our stress levels.

So we start to see this, oh, almost always. Like I do hormone tests all day long and it's, I'm always shocked. I had one the other day where I'm like, oh, your cortisol is beautiful,

beautiful anymore. Oh my God. What are they doing? Living little cabin in the woods or something? Yeah, I know. Like, how do you do that? Like this? She was a dentist too, and I was like, wow, that's crazy. Yeah. Amazing. It doesn't happen often. Right. And you have mentioned how you are really measuring these things along the way and you're getting these tests all day long.

What are these tests that you suggest that people do? How often should they be doing this? Is there a cadence within their cycle that they wanna make sure they're actually testing within? Any kind of guidance for that so that as we're instituting some of these changes, that we really see a measurable difference.

Yeah. It's so good to do a hormone test, if possible, when you're in your early thirties while you feel good, you know? Yeah. Because we wanna see, okay, when you have a normal cycle and your sleeping really well, and your stress levels are great, what does that look like on paper? Mm. And so if you can start early, great.

If it's too late, fine. We can, you can still never too late to keep to, to. To test properly. Right. So when you're in your first half years, you really want to be testing either through saliva mm-hmm. Or urine, not blood. Blood does not tell you what you need to know, especially when it comes to sleep. Yeah.

We need, we know that you guys have listened to Mollie talk about the cortisol clock. Yeah. If you just go to your doctor and you go say, okay, I want my hormones tested, including my cortisol, my D H E A. They'll say, okay, well let's just do a blood draw and it'll take a snapshot in time and you could have been in traffic on your way to the, to get your blood drawn and cortisol could be up.

And so it's gonna look like you have the super high cortisol when actually you might have really low cortisol throughout the whole day. So yeah, we wanna see that you have this really healthy. Curve, right? We wanna see that that cortisol comes up within the first half hour of waking and then slowly peters down throughout the day so that you can then sleep at nighttime.

And it also, if you do through urine, you can test your adrenaline, your norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine, which have a lot to do with, of course, cortisol stress. Sleep function, happiness, addiction, all of these good things, so that you really wanna see what this whole picture is telling you, including the D H E A.

And when you test through saliva, you're gonna see your metabolite. So you're gonna see how are, how are you breaking down progesterone because there's. Couple different paths that can go down. And one of them is the one that reacts on the GABA receptors of the brain. So if you are a person that's not metabolizing down that pathway very well, that's a problem.

Mm. And so we wanna give you something that's gonna help you to go down that pathway so that you can start to sleep better and have that nice calming anti-anxiety effect from progesterone. And you can't tell any of this if you go and do through blood draws. Absolutely. Yeah. And when you say saliva or urine, are there particular types of tests that you really suggest, or does it, you know, cause I, I ask that these certainly in a recent years, uh, slew of companies have popped up that have at home testing and things that can be sent to you or just different needs.

Are there certain ones that you find are more accurate or any guidance there? Yeah, so when you're in your fertile years, you definitely wanna do the saliva or the urine, and I use either zrt or Dutch. Dutch is dried urine test, test for hormones. I love Dutch. I love Zed rt. These are the two biggest hormone labs in the us.

Sure. Now, unfortunately, Dutch just raised their prices, but quite a bit. A hundred dollars overnight, which is, it's an expensive kit, so yeah, it's upsetting. I was like, oh, why'd you guys do this? You know, it was already $400, so now it's $500 for a basic test kit, which for a lot of people that's a lot. Yeah.

And. It is such an amazing test. Yeah. While ZR T has a urine metabolite test as well as saliva, Dutch only does dried urine. Yeah. The ZR T urine test is a hundred dollars cheaper and you get 49 different markers, which is actually more than what you get through the Dutch. But they do have different, like the Zar T one doesn't test the organic acids like the dopamine Norrine, Mela, um, no, it does do melatonin.

B12. B6. So that's something that. Zar T doesn't have, but Zar T has things like bisphenol A. So what kind of xenoestrogens do you have in your system? Mm. And it gives you the break. Several different progesterone metabolites gives you all your estrogen metabolite pathways, which are really important to see because some of them can indicate that you may have a higher risk of breast cancer.

So these are like. It's all very important. And so in these tests you're gonna be tested for cortisol and cortisone, which is the deactivated form of cortisol. And we wanna see that those two things match saliva is also is considered gold standard for testing cortisol throughout the day. Mm-hmm. But I find that urine really does match up very well with saliva because I do, there's some kits that have both in them.

Mm. And I see them match up. So it's just really important to have it done that way. If you can afford it and if you can do it. That's gonna give you your biggest picture of what's happening to your hormones at that time. As we begin to age. And if you're in menopause and you no longer cycle, you still wanna do an adrenal test through saliva or urine, but at that point you can also do blood work.

Because blood work will show what's happening in the hormones at that point, because there's usually no hormones. So having a urine metabolite test, you're not gonna really see too much because you don't have the hormones to break down. Mm-hmm. So at that point, then it's okay to go ahead and get the blood, but you want to still have a saliva if possible.

Do the saliva cortisol test, especially if you're having trouble sleeping. Sure. And get your melatonin tested. They'll test the melatonin, they'll test the cortisol, and they'll test D H E A, which all have a lot to do with our sleep function. Of course. Yeah. Do you have a standardized cadence that you suggest for people to maintain in testing?

Like is it an annual thing or just kind of when you're having symptoms or what do you see there? And you will. Yeah. If you know you're 38 and you do a test and everything looks good, or you do some like supplementation and lifestyle shifts or diet shifts and you feel hormonally great. Yeah. You know, for a couple years, then don't bother.

And then as soon as you start to feel things getting a little bit haywire, Then do another test, and then as you get into your forties, then I would say it's, it is a good idea to do them yearly, especially if you're trying to just maintain a healthy cycle and you're trying to ward off some of the nasty symptoms of perimenopause, then you can never test.

I mean, never guess always tests at that point. Mm-hmm. Because hormone imbalances, unfortunately, even high and low cortisol, there's so many similar symptoms. Yeah. And so you, so many women will think, oh, I definitely am estrogen dominant. And then we test and I'm like, no, you have very little estrogen. You got no progesterone and you're actually testosterone dominant.

Or will think I've, oh I'm, I think I've got really, really high cortisol because I'm just like wired all day long. And then you get it. And they actually are an adrenal insufficiency and they don't have any, any cortisol going on. Hmm. And so you really, when during those years, you can't just start supplementing and thinking, yeah, oh well I think I've got a cortisol problem.

I'm gonna take this adrenal adapted gn. To fix my problems. Unfortunately, you rarely have to be super, super careful because even though it's an adaptogen, the ones that are better for high cortisol compared to low cortisol, and when it comes to insomnia, in most of my clients as they age, I. For instance, one of the best things that they can take is what is considered an adaptogen.

But if they had super low cortisol throughout the day, I would never tell these people to take this adaptogen, which is holy basil. Okay, so we really need to make sure, and I think that this is super important as a reminder, because people listening, right? The second might be saying, okay, well just tell me the supplements that I need to throw in there, and what do I, what do I need to take always?

Yeah, and it's often, especially in the realm of sleep, people are desperate and just, I'll get whatever, whatever protocol, just tell me the protocol. You can't know the protocol unless you do the testing and you really go through this, this system. So really appreciate that. And to that point of taking certain things at certain times.

I know you mentioned some questions or the topic of hormone replacement therapy. I wonder if you can just, can you quickly introduce us into that whole world? It's probably not, uh, cuz it's huge and such a controversial topic. But things for us to kind of be aware of when thinking of that or considering that, you know, kind of guide us on that.

Yeah. Yeah. There's so many misconceptions around hormone replacement therapy and as we age, you know, one of the biggest complaints I hear is I, I suddenly have insomnia. And this happens to a lot of women, almost all women in their forties at some point where almost everybody across the board will say, I can't sleep.

Oh. Whether it's, I can't fall asleep or they're suddenly waking up in the early morning hours. Yeah. And they've never had a sleep problem before. So, you know, we know that progesterone's long gone at this point. Mm-hmm. And then estrogen starts to drop. And melatonin is actually produced from an estrogen dependent pathway.

So estrogen helps us to make serotonin. Serotonin helps us to make melatonin. So estrogen starts dropping melatonin. Just through age, and because of that estrogen drop that will start dropping. And then estrogen is actually, there's receptors in our brain that help us to control the whole light and dark rhythms in the day.

There's estrogen receptors for that in our brain, so when we suddenly don't have estrogen, Your body will like not be tired for until midnight. Suddenly, like that whole wake sleep cycle is off as we as, as your estrogen starts to drop. The other thing that's I think is just fascinating is we'll start seeing all these women start having.

Sleep apnea. And that's because there's receptors in the breathing centers of our brain that need estrogen. Yes. So without it, we can develop freaking and sleeping apnea, which we never had before, and we might not be overweight or a smoker or anything. I'm so glad you're speaking to that because, and I, sorry, didn't mean to interrupt you.

No, no, no. Go. I'm really happy that you're pointing to this because. Every, you know, sleep conference, I go to sleep event, et cetera, et cetera. It's sounding the alarms for this age group in particular, this kind of epidemic, hidden epidemic of women, particularly late thirties into throughout the forties range.

And sometimes, uh, give or take silently suffering with apnea and not looking like through traditional signs or symptoms that we might think of for sleep apnea. And to your point, that might be. Slender women, not necessarily wild snorers or what have you. So some of the things that we might think of as signs might look a little different and then get missed.

So thank you for calling that out. Yes, yes. Yeah, I know. I was shocked when I saw that because I always associated sleep apnea with being overweight. Sure. Typically. Yeah. Cause that's typically what you see. It's, you know, you get heavier on the chest and you can't breathe very well at nighttime and yeah.

So amazing. So there's that, and then you also, you start having temperature dysregulation. Mm-hmm. Right. We know that temperature has so much to do with quality of sleep. Yeah. This is where the things like the chili, is it called the chili pad? Mm-hmm. Yes. Yeah. Like I really wanna try that. Oh my gosh. Oh my God.

You have to. Yes. Things like that could be. So amazing because as our estrogen starts to fluctuate, of course, then we start getting night sweats and hot flashes, and a lot of them will come at nighttime. So yeah, you're losing your estrogen and it's gonna cause a whole slew of things that are going to impact your sleep.

Yes. And then you have progesterone on top of that going down. And so, and then as well, without estrogen, our cortisol becomes dysfunctional, and so it actually starts to rise. So we've got these high cortisol, low melatonin, low estrogen, low progesterone. It's just this perfect storm for insomnia and it's one of the most, like, it's a way up there as far as medication, like prescriptions go for menopausal women is sleep medication and antidepressants.

Yes, and this is BECAU or anti-anxiety and which are all. Not always, I'm just saying if this developed in menopause, it could be from the loss of the estrogen and the progesterone and the high cortisol, and so it's not a lack of anti depression medication. Right. Yeah. It's not as deficiency in that. Yeah.

Yeah. But it can be like, I think ver it can be from, you know, low serotonin levels that you naturally have that. But yeah, if it's something that you've developed, especially the depression and the anxiety, I mean, we know that depression is linked with insomnia. You know, chicken or the egg, we're not too sure, right?

Yeah. I think one perpetuates the other, but like I said, estrogens needed to help us make serotonin, which is our nice antidepressant hormone. So sure. We need all of these things. And so a lot of practitioners and a lot of doctors will say, well, We're not gonna put you on hormones. You know, hormone estrogen can cause breast cancer.

And this is all based on the Women's health initiative. That that was this the largest, one of the largest studies that's ever been done, actually like the largest population of people. But there was so much wrong with that study. It's now been re had a real analysis. Done several times, and it actually showed that estrogen was actually super beneficial to the women in the, in the study, and that it was the progestin that was causing an increased risk of breast cancer.

And proin is what's in birth control pills. Yeah. Yeah. Didn't. Birth control feels like there's no, and actually no many menopausal or perimenopausal women that are put on birth control because of the heavy bleeding that happens. And so doctors will say, here's your birth control before they say, here's your natural bioidentical.

Same as your body's. Progesterone. That's really what's needed. Rather, they'll give you progestin, which is gonna increase your risk of breast cancer and a whole other slew of problems. Hmm. So it's very backwards. The medical system is like, they haven't caught up, they don't have the right information.

They're still basing everything that they're practicing back from the W H I study when prior to that, estrogen replacement was the number one most prescribed medication in America. Wow, that was Premarin, which isn't natural biodentical. It comes from pregnant horses, and there's nothing like our own estrogen, but even that showed a benefit to women.

Wow. Even though it was from pregnant horses, it was still more beneficial for women to take it than not to take it in menopause because it. It was actually breast protective. The women that were only on Premarin in that study had a decreased in developing breast cancer by 30%, which is huge. Wow. Um, they had, you know, this bro, bone protective, brain protective estrogen's, the most important hormone for a woman's body.

So as we age and we start losing these hormones, there's no, no amount of dieting, exercising, or supplementing that is going to bring back your ovarian function. Sure. Period. Yeah. And so we have to be very clear about that. I just actually had somebody comment on a YouTube channel, on my YouTube channel for, uh, I interviewed a hormone doctor who was talking about B hormone replacement, and she said, I know lots of women who just ate really well and they, they're, They're thriving without hormone replacement.

And it's like, well, good on those women. Right? But guess what? 85% of women have symptoms of me perimenopause. And those symptoms can last anywhere from eight to 10 years. Yeah. So to say that you can just eat healthy, I it's, I find it so. Rude. Really? Because I'm very healthy. Yeah. I'm a nutritionist. I've always been into health.

I've always been extremely, you know, my diet's great. I eat well, I exercise, I take the supplements, I do everything right. Yeah. And guess what, Karen, when is an early perimenopause, I had all, everything that could happen to me happened to me. I was, you know, the heavy bleeding, then the missed periods and the hot flashes, then the night sweats, the weight gain.

It still happened to me. Yeah. And so I was able to reverse it all. Thankfully, thanks to Bio al hormone replacement. And it is very safe. And it's actually safer to take the hormones than not to take the hormones. Women have a 33% reduction of all cause mortality if they replace their hormones for up to 10 years post-menopause.

Wow. Ugh. Yeah. Well, one, thank you so much for walking us through that. Cause I know it's a, uh, very loaded topic. Topic, topic. Yeah. Yeah. There's a lot going on there. I mean, if anyone is feeling like woof, I need some guidance on this. We'll talk more specifics at the end of the show. But do wanna just point out that Karen's got a great hormone quiz on her website.

To answer some questions around, you know, some of the things that we might be dealing with with our own health and wellbeing. And then also be able to have various bits of information from Karen. So she's got a fantastic podcast. You wanna absolutely listen to group coaching, all kinds of different things.

I'm just putting this in here. Normally I would, you know, say this for the end, but in case anyone is saying, wow, whoa, this is all odd, ok. Uh, then that there's lots of resources for you wherever you might be in your journey. So the other thing I wanna do is learn from you as someone that clearly lives and breathes this topic, understanding how you are managing your own sleep and as it relates to your hormonal balance and health.

And so we do always ask. Every person that comes on here. Four questions, and the four questions are, well, one. I'm just really excited to hear these, the answers from you, because I know that this are gonna be, you've thought long and hard about as it relates to your sleep and what have you. But the first one is, what is your nightly sleep routine looking like nowadays for you?

Yes. And so I make sure my hormones are always topped up because I definitely notice that impacts my sleep. Yeah. Greatly, right? Yeah. So even if I have like a middle of the night waking at like three o'clock in the morning, I actually have progesterone cream on my nightstand and I just give, give it a little square at my hand and I'll rub it on my chest and it puts me back to sleep is so calming and oral progesterone's even better for sleep.

Mm-hmm. So some women do really well with the oral progesterone and it's very. Safe to take, and it should be taken in the second half of the cycle. So if you're having that insomnia in the second half of the cycle, that's a great thing to get started on. And it doesn't suppress your own production. It's not gonna suppress your body's ability to to ovulate.

So it's very safe, very protective. So that's a great thing that I always make sure I have on hand. I always make sure that I have my estrogen cream on as well, because of all those reasons that we just talked about. Yes. And it helps. Me not to have so many hot flashes in the nighttime. Yeah. And keeps me, you know, sleeping well.

So I really find it. That helps me sleep too. I'll always take my little bit of T H c. I take magnesium glycinate and I take a low dose of melatonin. I don't agree with high dose melatonin. I don't know if you've had it, one of these speakers on that say, you know, take a hundred milligrams of melatonin we had.

The, the guy come in, uh, not the guy, but yes. Uh, lots of different speakers on this, but have some speakers coming on a bit later to say their side or say their piece about what they believe for the high dose melatonin. So we'll get deeper into that. And yes, and there's lots of people who are in your camp as well.

On concerns, right? Like, yeah, what could this do term, long term? Like I just pulled up a PubMed study just yesterday to show somebody who was talking about this guy and his high dose melatonin and how it's great, and I was like, no, it was to another doctor. And I said, no, as if that's not going to affect our other hormones.

All of our hormones work together. Yes. And so if you're dominating with one hormone, it's gonna have this waterfall down effect. Now, does that mean that it's not safe? Don't. You can Sure. Go ahead. Take lots. I mean, look at bodybuilders. They take a ton of testosterone. Yeah. Long term. Guess what? A lot of them, I know two men, young men in their forties who have died of heart attack because they took too many, too much testosterone, enlarged their heart.

Melatonin will suppress your hormone production. Period. End of story. Yeah. If it's in high doses for a long time. It is a great antioxidant and can be used as a short term therapy type thing. Sure. Doing high doses, but just like high dose progesterone can be used in the same way. High dose thyroid medication can be used for certain purposes, so you can manipulate your body in ways and kind of do yourself, your own, your own little biohack sort of thing with high doses of different hormones for different effects.

But long term you don't wanna do that because you're messing with Mother Nature and Mother Nature knows best. Don't mess with her. Yes, totally. Yeah. And I think people often forget when they hear melatonin. It's been so normalized and many of our, certainly Western culture and tend to think of it as something you just get at the local drugstore.

Not that big of a deal, and yet it is a hormone and it is something to really have some reverence for. Okay. Yeah, great stack. That's, that's my sleep stack. And I sleep with a fan. I have to have white noise. This? Yes. Pitch like blackout room. I've got my sleeping mask, everything. I got silk sleeping mask.

It has to be cold. It has to have to have the right pillow, the right, like I am a sleep Nazi. Let's just go it that way. I'm, I'm a freak when it comes to I, the perfect environment the same. Okay. And so then what might we see for your morning routine? Making the argument that that impacts our sleep down the road.

When it's nice. I'm in Canada, so we have very cold winters. Yeah. When it's nice out, I spend every morning outside. Um, like as soon as I get up it's like I grab my coffee and I'm out in the direct sun. Yeah. Thinking of Mollie going, Mollie would be proud. I'm in the direct sun. Look at me. Go love Huberman.

For some reason I always think if the two of you and I'm like, oh, I love ooh, love to be with him. Light in my head. Oh, for sure. Woohoo. Yeah. But in the winters, it's. Not so good. But I do have a light box and so I try and use that if I feel like I'm being affected by that. Yeah. Um, so I'll use my light box or I, you know, sit by the window or if I can, I'll go outside and go for a walk.

In the mid-morning hours, do you have a particular type of light box that you like to use or just, you know, any old It's a just the, yeah, it's an s a D box. Okay. Yeah, sure. I don't know even which one it is, but yeah, I've had a few years. But it does the tricks. Okay. Yeah. Great. And then, uh, you kind of spoke to this I think, but if we left anything out, what is on your nightstand or proverbial nightstand, you know, when you're traveling?

Apps, gadgets, anything to be aware of. Definitely the progesterone cream. Yes. Always. I'll sometimes have tranquil. Have you heard of those? Oh, share more. This was my first insomnia cure when it was starting for me. This was all I would need to take, and it was something that I recommended to probably hundreds of people now, and it's one of the best sleep supplements I've ever come across by far.

And I've tried them all. So is all it has in it is like, I think it's maybe three milligrams of melatonin. It's got five h t p, but in very like 10 milligrams mm and a hundred milligrams of Altheine. Mm. And that's it. And for some reason, like the taking them all separately, it doesn't do the same thing, but it's like, and maybe it's cuz it's a chewable tablet and the way it hits you, but it seems like just that altheine is nice and calming for the brain.

It's very anti-anxiety. And that can really just help if my mind's. Going, then I can pop one of those ones in and that seems to, to help induce sleep. I also have on my bedside table this new cream that I got that's got M S M and glucosamine and mint and camper and turmeric in it. It's for joint pain, but I use it for restless leg syndrome because it's one of my causes of insomnia.

Ah, I sure restless legs, and so rubbing that on my legs is like, it gets rid of it for me. So I sleep so much better now that I have that. So that's on my bedside table with some. I also have roller essential oils that are rubbing my legs. I got a 10 machine in there and so I can use that. Sometimes I've got a massager for my eyes, which just can be relaxing.

So that's on the bedside table. Oh, I love those. Those are a lot of new items, so, oh, and I'll say, yeah, my, one of my favorite insomnia supplements, besides that one that seems to work for, I would say probably 85 to 90% of my clients. And I'm gonna, this is like the best kept secret. Hmm. Together. You can't do them separately.

Phosphite, sarine, and holy basil. Yes, it has to be together. One blocks cortisol, one calms your nervous system, and you can take lots of it if you need to. But start with 150 milligrams of Phosphite sarine, and 500 milligrams of holy basil. And take it about half an hour before you go to bed with your magnesium and it.

Does absolute wonders if you get up in the middle of the night, take them so to help you go back to sleep, and you can move that dose upwards if need be. And I know you mentioned during the daytime hours there's certain people that you wouldn't have used Holy Basil. Yes. But during the night, different it's, it's different and really applied to, we want our quarters all low, so.

Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Yeah. Okay. Works so well. I love those tips. Those are all unique and new that we have not heard, so thank you. And then the last one, and maybe this is evolving, but. What has made the biggest change to your sleep game or the biggest aha moment you've had in managing your sleep lately?

It was figuring out the restless legs and yeah, sure. Absolutely. And I knew what it's from. And so that was like a big thing, big aha moment. And this may have been the cause of actually the, the primary insomnia that also happened, but it's, I've got a lot of heavy metals in my body. Oh. And so whenever I chelate, which is just a process of get, taking something to get the metals out.

Yeah. It does affect the brains, the cer, there's certain areas of the brain that can. Cause r ls and that that area of the brain is affected by chelators. Mm-hmm. And so it's like it disrupts the mercury in the brain and then it can get on, I, I can't remember what the area of the brain is, I can't remember right now.

But it affects that possibly, you know, it's, it's going in that area of the brain, which then is affecting my restless leg syndrome, which is a genetic thing like my, all my family members have it, but I have it severely and I notice a huge increase in it when I chelate. Wow. Ugh. So that was my game changer.

Yeah. Weird. Huge. Yeah. Yeah. How can you sleep peacefully if half of your body is not peaceful? Yeah, a hundred percent. That can be really, really frustrating for people. So thank you for sharing that. And lastly, again, cuz I know we only just scratched the surface, I'm clear people are gonna wanna know more about how to follow you, get in with all of your information and be a part of what you're doing.

So what are the best ways to do that? Yeah, and so probably my podcast has a ton. If you wanna know more about hormones. Yeah, I talk a lot about weight loss and hormones on my podcast. So the podcast is called The Other Side of Weight Loss. We're voted top 20, um, weight Loss podcast of 2021. We're always top 100 and iTunes, so it's very long.

Mollie's been a guest on it, thankfully. Yeah. Grateful. Yep. I talk a lot about, actually, I've had several sleep podcasts because I know that this is, is such a big problem as we eat so important. Yeah. And then I've got a great group coaching program that's been going for five years where I teach women about their hormones.

We've got a whole module on sleep, and all my sleep hacks are in there. Yes. Why we wanna sleep as we age, and how important it is and what you can do about it. And then a ton on hormone replacement therapy and how to properly lose weight as we age and keep up with our health and vitality, because this can be such a hard time for women.

So my focus is really around that perimenopausal, menopausal transition. Just helping women to get through it without all of these nasty symptoms that can happen. One quick question. If anyone's listening and they say, well, I've been taking birth control for all these years, does this still apply for them?

Can you help support them or any call outs there? Yeah, you can't really test your, there's no point in testing your hormones if you're on birth control, cuz it suppresses all of your hormones. Yep. But I work with a lot of women that are wanting to come off of hormones. Yes. Or off of birth control hormones, which are not actually hormones.

It's all chemicals. Yeah. So I how women get off of them. Okay. Clear them out of their system and then get to the root of why they were, you know, why. If they, most women are actually put on birth control, not for the pregnancy part. I find most women are on it because they had heavy periods or they didn't wanna have a period anymore.

Sure, yes, there's birth control in there, but it's amazing how many women use it for other purposes. Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. That's great to know that there's support available for women no matter what they might be dealing with. Okay. Yes. Amazing. Yes. Well, I just a quick question. Did we leave anything out on this topic?

I know this is a big area. Um, is there anything else you wanted to say? Any, or did we, do you feel like we did a good job in kind of speaking to all this? No, I think most important is watch your hormones. You know? Yeah. Especially if you're going, oh, you know what? I hit 37 and I suddenly had it got insomnia, or I had a baby and I have insomnia.

Or you know, don't just brush that as. Side, like really start looking at that piece because it's a piece that is often not looked at enough, especially as we go into our forties and fifties and we're just on sleeping medication for the rest of our life. When there's a lot that you can do about it, that's also really good for your health, and so don't discount it and make sure that you stay on top of it.

Test your hormones, see what's going on, try different things, be open-minded about it. Ah, so good. Thank you so much for the work you do and your passion. It's always very, very clear every conversation I have with you, just the joy and real commitment to making a difference with women on a large scale. So thanks so much for the work that you do and grateful to have you on here.

Well, thanks for having me, my friend. Awesome. Thank you. You've been listening to The Sleep Is A Skill Podcast, the number one podcast for people who wanna take their sleep skills to the next level. Every Monday, I send out something that I call Mollie's Monday Obsessions containing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep.

Head on over to sleep as a skill.com to sign up.


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