Menopause and Sleep
Every woman approaching the age of 40 probably thinks about it at least some of the time.
Menopause… the ceasing of menstruation. It’s a big thing for women – and yet, all too often, it isn’t talked about enough.
Menstruation could also be described as a ‘natural decline in reproductive hormones,’ which would certainly be accurate. It can also come with a number of symptoms. Women approaching this natural part of the aging process may experience hot flashes, sweating, irregular or skipped periods, depression, irritability, headaches, fatigue, joint and muscle aches, and even changes in libido.
But believe it or not, insomnia can also be a symptom of menopause – and that is what we are going to discuss in this article.
Insomnia and menopause
Believe it or not, many women in their late 30s and 40s who experience insomnia can probably blame at least a part of the problem on the transition to menopause. The insomnia that results from the beginnings of menopause is often prompted by hormonal changes, but lifestyle changes can also play a role.
Plus, many people don’t realize that other menopausal symptoms can actually contribute to insomnia and make it worse.
When you take a look at menopause and the affects that it has on the female body, it’s not difficult to see how insomnia will likely become a problem at some point. During menopause, the woman’s ovaries will decrease their production of progesterone and estrogen – both of which are hormones that contribute to sleep.
Waning levels of estrogen can also make you more susceptible to other stressful factors that can make sleeping more difficult.
Hot flashes, which basically consist of short, small surges of adrenaline, can contribute to insomnia by disrupting your normal sleeping patterns. During these types of episodes, it’s not so uncommon to find yourself awake and unable to go right back to sleep… which can be problematic.
But sometimes, issues that are not related to hormones can also play a part – and some of these happen to coincide with menopause a great deal of the time, which can make them almost coincidentally connected. Oftentimes, this period of life is also accompanied by major changes that can affect your sleeping pattern in ways that you would not ever have imagined.
Children moving out, retiring, feelings of a ‘midlife crisis,’ relocating to a different place or into a smaller home… all of these changes can bring about stress that will just magnify your odds of suffering from insomnia.
How to help yourself if you are suffering from menopausal insomnia
Unfortunately, some sleeping problems are really difficult to avoid when it comes to menopause. But thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to help yourself.
Taking control of your sleeping schedule and environment will likely do the most to help you overcome insomnia-related issues as you navigate this natural, yet challenging part of the aging process. Try to make your room dark, quiet, and cool whenever the time comes to sleep, and do what you can to go to bed and wake up at consistent times.
Give yourself plenty of time to fall asleep, and avoid drinking alcohol or using tobacco – as these can interfere with your sleeping schedule and keep you from getting the best sleep possible.
If the insomnia problems persist and you find yourself at a loss for how to help yourself, then you might want to consider visiting your doctor – as the problem may be fixable through medication. Obviously, doctors will prescribe different types of treatments for insomnia, depending on the causal factors – but HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is usually the most common menopause treatment for women who are experiencing more severe symptoms.
Some women find relief through acupuncture, relaxation therapy, or message – though these obviously don’t work for everyone. It mostly just depends on the situation.
But make no mistake! Sleep is extremely important, and insomnia should never be taken lightly. If you’re experiencing insomnia and believe that it might be menopause related, then seeing your doctor might be the best choice you could make.