Skip to content

Improve Menopause related Sleep Disturbances with Chinese Herbal Medicine

By Adam Haysom-McDowell
from Annandale Natural Health & Chinese Medicine

Menopause is a normal and inevitable process that women experience, usually in their late 40s or early 50s. It marks the end of the reproductive years and involves significant hormonal changes in the body. While menopause is a normal part of life, it can be accompanied by several unpleasant symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and insomnia.

Insomnia can be trouble falling asleep, waking up several times during the night with an inability to fall back to sleep, waking up too early, or a combination. If poor sleep continues, it can lead to tension headaches, feeling too tired during the day to complete normal activities, poor concentration and feeling irritable. (1)

In Chinese herbal medicine, menopause is considered a natural process that reflects a decline in Yin energy. Yin energy is associated with coolness, moisture, and calmness. As menopause progresses, the body produces less estrogen, which is a Yin hormone. This decline in Yin energy can lead to hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and insomnia. Fortunately, Chinese herbal medicine can offer a safe and effective way to relieve sleep issues.

A herb that is commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine for menopausal insomnia is Ziziphus jujuba seed (Suan Zao Ren). Ziziphus seed has a calming effect on the nervous system. It can help to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. It also has a mild sedative effect, which can help to improve the quality of sleep and is one of the key herbs in the formula Suan Zao Ren Tang. A study investigated the benefits of Suan Zao Ren Tang on sleep quality in menopausal women between 40 and 65 years of age. After taking the formula for 4 weeks, there were improvements of 37.5% for subjective sleep quality, 25% in time taken to fall asleep, 25% for sleep duration and 38.9% for habitual sleep disturbances. (2)

Further support for Chinese herbal medicine as a stand alone or adjunct therapy for insomnia was outlined in a 2015 a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Published in the journal “Sleep Medicine”, the analysis included seventy-six trials and found that Chinese herbal medicine was more effective than placebo, benzodiazepine drugs or cognitive and behavioural therapy. There was no difference in adverse events between Chinese herbal medicine and placebo. (3)

Chinese herbal medicine aims to treat the person rather than just the symptoms, so it is important to see a qualified practitioner so that an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan can be made.

In conclusion, Chinese herbal medicine can offer a safe and effective way to relieve sleep issues associated with menopause. Herbs such as ziziphus seed can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Other herbs and formula can help reduce hot flashes and night sweats which disturb sleep. If you are experiencing sleep issues associated with menopause, it is worth considering Chinese herbal medicine as a natural remedy.


  1. Direct H. Insomnia: The Department of Health and Aged Care; 2023 [Available from:
  2. Yeh C-H, Arnold C, Chen Y-H, Lai J-N. Suan Zao Ren Tang as an Original Treatment for Sleep Difficulty in Climacteric Women: A Prospective Clinical Observation. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. 2011;2011:673813.
  3. Ni X, Shergis JL, Guo X, Zhang AL, Li Y, Lu C, et al. Updated clinical evidence of Chinese herbal medicine for insomnia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Sleep Medicine. 2015;16(12):1462-81.

More about the author

Adam Haysom-McDowell.pdf
Adam Haysom-McDowell
– Annandale Natural Health & Chinese Medicine

Adam is a nationally registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Herbalist, qualified with a Bachelor of Health Science (TCM), Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition, Diploma of Remedial Massage and a Diploma of Fitness. With over 10 years' experience working in both multi-modality (physiotherapy, chiropractic) and his own clinic, Adam brings an integrative approach to his Natural Health practice in the Sydney suburb of Annandale.