How Your Hormones React to Middle Age

As women slide into their forties they experience changes in their hormone supply. Some of these changes are subtle, and some can be spectacular. It’s not just menopause that causes these changes. A variety of factors, from diet to exercise to your emotional state, impacts the way your body produces vital hormones.

One of the most common hormonal conditions for women in their forties is their inability to enjoy a full night’s rest. Even abstaining from stimulants before bedtime, such as caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, will not guarantee a full eight hours of shuteye. The reason? As estrogen levels fluctuate in the body, they disrupt the regular brain synapses that are necessary for regular sleep patterns. Instead, women experience night sweats, bladder urgency, and ‘crazy legs’ syndrome.

This is NOT the time to take a sleeping pill. Most sleep aids leave you tired and disoriented in the morning. A better alternative is to take some mild exercise a few hours before bedtime. This tends to help estrogen levels to stay constant, and is a great way to shed the worries of the day as you take a brisk walk or go for a swim. A cup of herbal tea prior to bed can help relax tense muscles and soothe a burbling stomach.

Leptin and ghrelin are two other hormones that like to play hob with your body when you reach your forties. These two hormones help control your appetite. Too much leptin makes you hungry, and not enough ghrelin confuses the nerve endings in your stomach into thinking you need more food. This can sometimes lead to serious weight gain issues. The best defense against this hormonal see-saw is to add a zinc supplement to your diet; the zinc will moderate levels of both leptin and ghrelin so they even out and keep you from being tortured by the munchies day and night.

You should also consult your physician if you experience constant hot flashes at night; he or she may recommend a hormone therapy using Estroven or Pycnogenol or something from this site.

Women in their forties are also prone to dermatology problems they thought they had seen the last of a long time before, such as excessively oily skin and even acne. This is caused when the body produces too much estrogen and testosterone, just as it did during puberty. If this is the case with you, be careful about applying harsh chemical scrubs to your face. Your skin is no longer as elastic or dynamic as it once was — scrubbing too hard can actually lead to permanent skin damage. Instead, consult with a dermatologist about using the Vitamin A derivative retinol. It cuts the production of skin oil, in most cases in a matter of days.

Women in their forties often notice a diminution in memory. While scientists are still at a loss as to just exactly why this occurs so often in women over forty, they have done research on the matter and come to the conclusion that a diet rich in olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, raw fruits and vegetables, and whole grain pasta — in other words, a Mediterranean diet — can not only prevent further memory loss but actually help increase memory capability.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.