Experiencing menopause and have difficulties sleeping? You are not the only one.
Menopause is a time of major changes. During menopause, women start experiencing various physical, hormonal, and psychological changes that directly affect their sleep.
Approximatelly around 12% of women in menopause experience some kind of sleep disturbance.
This percent is even higher as women enter their 40s to early 50s. Women report most sleep problems, from perimenopause to postmenopause.
Menopause is a certain stage in a women’s life when her ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone and they stop menstruating.
This is nothing to be ashamed of and is a normal stage of aging. In another word, menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years.
It usually occurs in a woman’s late 40s to early ’50s and can lead to sleep problems.
What Sleep Issues Are Associated With Menopause
Menopausal symptoms are highly individual, and will always vary from woman to woman. However, sleep issues are very common, among other symptoms.
In most case, women reported the following symptoms:
- Sleep-disordered breathing
- Mood swings
- Sleep disorders
When the ovaries no longer produce adequate amounts of estrogen and progesterone, some of the listed symptoms may appear.
The loss of these hormones is actually responsible for the symptoms listed above.
The most frequent symptoms are hot flashes followed by sweating, which is – as expected, related to hot flashes.
Up to 85% of women experience hot flashes. These flashes aren’t quick to disappear.
On average, hot flashes can last for five years. As you may guess already, hot flashes can disrupt your sleep.
When it comes to sleep, people sleep the best when their body temperature is in balance.
Sleeping at the right room temperature should be part of your sleep hygiene. However, even the best room temperature cannot provide a good night’s sleep when you have hot flashes.
A sudden feeling of warmth that spreads constantly over your body isn’t pleasant for sure, especially when you are going through menopause and experiencing hot flashes at night.
Hot flashes are the main reason why menstrual women have difficulties sleeping at night.
As result, sleeping difficulties can lead to various other problems, such as daytime drowsiness.
Hot Flashes and Sleep
In some women, hot flashes may be light, while in some they can be extremely intense.
All in, hot flashes and sudden and unexpected sensations of heat all over the body. They can last for few minutes only, or longer.
In most cases, they are accompanied by sweating. Hot flashes always start in the face before they spread to the chest and the rest of the body.
Hot flashes are also known as night sweats. Before hot flash kicks in, a woman’s body temperature rises and blood flow increases to the face, creating a unique heating sensation that wakes them up, no matter the hour.
Some would describe hot flashes as energizers due to a strong increase in heat and adrenaline, which can make it hard to fall back asleep. Even if a woman falls asleep fast, her sleep quality suffers.
Now, imagine this happening every single night for a period of a couple of years.
Not only that sleep quality is extremely poor, but moodiness, headaches, and other symptoms may appear as a result of hot flashes.
The following day is always worse than the previous one.
In postmenopausal women snoring and sleep apnea is very common. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related issue highly spread among Americans of different age groups.
This sleep disorder is characterized by unexpected and short pauses in breathing while sleeping.
These pauses can lead to snoring, gasping, and choking sounds.
Not that OSA can disturb sleep quality, but it can also increase the risk of death.
This is the main reason why your sleeping partner should inform you if notice any unusual actions while sleeping.
If you live on your own and tend to wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, almost not breathing, you should visit your doctor.
Mood and Sleep Disorders
Insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, and even anxiety, are just some of the sleep-related issues that may appear during menopause.
Other sleep disorders may appear and develop during menopause as well, including restless leg syndrome and even limb movements disorder.
These disorders are linked with involuntary leg movements that force a person to wake up frequently during the night. Sudden waking isn’t pleasant and will lead to sleep disruption.
Being waken so many times per night can lead to worsening sleep issues, anxiety, and depression.
How Does Menopause Affect My Sleep?
When ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone, menopause kicks in.
Since both estrogen and progesterone are responsible for mood, appetite, sex drive, and even sleep, the body enters a new phase. Lower levels of estrogen and progesterone lead directly to sleep issues.
Estrogen plays a huge role in keeping serotonin and other neurotransmitters responsible for sleep in order.
As you may know, already serotonin is directly responsible for the sleep-wake cycle.
Plus, estrogen is responsible for keeping the temperature low at night and supporting more restful sleep.
You may need six hours of sleep as a teenager, but you have probably noticed how that changes as you age.
You need to know how much sleep do you need based on your age and you should always follow that. However, it can be tricky to stay true to those guidelines, as you are hit with hot flashes and mood change.
So, when the sleep-wake cycle loses its consistency, your might experience moodiness, tiredness when you wake up, waking up inconsistently, or even sleeping more. This may be the starting ground for increased risk for insomnia and other sleep-related problems.
How to Get a Better Night’s Rest
Some women may have difficulties sleeping pre-menopause and during menopause. On the other hand, some women who have trouble sleeping choose to run toward over-the-counter medicine.
In most cases, they would get aids that includes melatonin. Others will rather use prescribed medication to keep their sleep in order.
Sadly, these medications will only help for a short period. Plus, there is always a real danger of taking too many medicines, which can lead to various health issues.
So, with that in mind, you should do what you can to improve your sleep hygiene. The good news is that you can sleep better if you work really hard to make your sleep routine an everyday thing.
Here are the most effective steps that you can implement today to take control of your sleep:
- Exercise. Regular exercise can help you fall and stay asleep. You don’t have to practice heavy exercise. It’s enough to have a 30-minute long walk to start.
- Meditate. Relaxing your body and mind is mandatory when it comes to healthy living. It can help you calm your mind, and learn to deal better with hot flashes.
- Mind your diet. Maintaining a healhty weight and diet should an imperative throughout your entire life. If you are obese, think about how you can improve your diet, exercise more, and lose that extra weight. Don’t overdue with calories. Make healthier choices. Avoid using alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, especially in the late afternoon and early evening. Even if you are not in menopause substance usage will affect your sleep quality. Have a bedtime routine. Develop a calm and consistent bedtime routine that will send you with ease to sleep.
Quick Tips For Stronger Sleep
The tips listed above are just basic moves. You can try as many different things as possible, and see what works for you the best.
Still, some practices such as bedtime routine, drinking tea instead of alcohol before sleep can help you sleep better at any time. Still, there is no harm in applying additional steps for better sleep.
Here are small tips that can make an enormous change in your sleeping routine:
- Wear loose clothing to bed
- Always choose cloth made of natural fibers, such as cotton
- Keep your bedroom cool
- Avoid spicy food before bed, becuase it can make you sweat more
- Drink enough water, because hydration can help you sleep better
- Avoid excessive usage of caffeine
- Avoid long naps during the day
- Always empty your bladder before bed
- Drink tea that promotes sleep
- Talk to your doctor if you experience disturbance during a long period of time
The Bottom Line
If you need additional help to get you through menopause and better sleep, make sure that you talk with your doctor first.
Ask for advice from a professional angle, and follow them. Then, you can apply any of the listed tips above to create a better sleeping routine and have a firmer sleep.
Don’t try any alternative treatments for treating hot flashes and improving sleep, before you talk with your doctor first.
Also, keep in mind that dietary supplements are not regulated by FDA like medications. Before you decide to intake anything, talk to your doctor first.
In the meantime, continue practicing your day as usual. Do what makes you happy, and do your best to provide the best sleeping environment possible.
When hard days kick in, remeber that you aren’t alone. Talk to your partner, children, and friends about your new needs and emotions.
You can also search online support groups and share your thoughts abotu your new chapter with ladies from all across the globe.