Is Menopause Keeping You Awake at Night?

Getting adequate sleep is so good for your health. Well-rested people tend to get sick less often, think more clearly, and feel less stressed than those who are chronically sleep-deprived. Good sleepers are also less likely to gain weight and develop heart disease and diabetes.

Not getting enough sleep can make you feel crummy. Chronic sleeplessness takes a toll on your health, increasing your risk of depression and anxiety. It’s hard to feel good after a bad night of sleep.

Unfortunately, getting the sleep you need isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Certain life changes can affect your ability to wake up feeling refreshed and rested.

One of those life changes is menopause. According to the National Sleep Foundation, as many as 61% of women who have gone through menopause report having some symptoms of insomnia.

How menopause affects sleep

Your body experiences major hormonal shifts beginning with perimenopause, a period of several years before menopause. During this time, your ovaries begin reducing their production of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.

The hormonal changes of menopause can trigger a range of physical and emotional symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes.

If you’ve ever woken up drenched with sweat, you won’t be surprised to learn that night sweats and hot flashes can interfere with quality sleep. Nearly half of midlife women have sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up too early in the morning, and feeling fatigued during the day.

Other insomnia triggers

In some cases, menopausal sleep problems are worsened by other health conditions, such as sleep apnea, a type of sleep disorder in which your breathing stops and starts during the night.

Other possible causes include depression, asthma and allergies, thyroid disorders, or gastroesophageal reflux.  

Family responsibilities can also keep you awake at night. During midlife, many women are taking care of aging parents in addition to raising children and launching them into adulthood.

Strategies for improving sleep

You may have luck improving your sleep by making changes in your schedule or environment. For example, try cutting out caffeine and alcohol, especially later in the day, because they can contribute to sleeplessness and night sweats.

Avoid eating big meals near bedtime. And if spicy foods increase your hot flashes, try blander fare.

Keep to a schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. And be sure to leave yourself enough time to spend seven to eight hours sleeping.

Coping with hot flashes and night sweats

If you have hot flashes and night sweats, wear loose sleeping clothes and keep your bedroom cool. Use a couple of layers of light blankets, rather than one heavy comforter, so you can adjust your bedding easily during the night as your body temperature fluctuates.

Exercise also improves sleep, although it’s best to avoid strenuous activity within three hours of bedtime. Late-night exercise may increase night sweats.

Some of our patients have luck with meditation, especially before bed. Phone-based apps such as Headspace can guide you through a meditation session designed to help you relax and fall asleep.   

Help for sleeplessness

If you’re having trouble getting the sleep you need — or if you don’t feel refreshed even after a full night of sleep — the medical team at Sound Sleep Health in Seattle, Washington, can help.

We conduct a detailed assessment of your sleep habits and environment, including how many sleep cycles you go through, how long you’re in each cycle, how deeply you sleep, and how often you wake up because of hot flashes, night sweats, or other factors.

Once we have a better understanding of what’s affecting your sleep, we provide treatments and solutions that can help you sleep better and feel more refreshed during the day.

At Sound Sleep Health, we can make it easier for you to get the rest you need. Call the office or book a consultation online.

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