Menopause can be both physically and very emotionally challenging period of a woman’s life. While menopause takes place over a period of many years, hormonal changes commonly cause wide range of sleep disorders. Sleep deprivation, insomnia, sleep disordered breathing (SDB), restless legs syndrome (RLS), mood and anxiety disorders are just some of the challenges women undergo.
During midlife, most important factors disturbing the sleep are:
- Declining production of sleep-promoting hormone progesterone
- Lower level of estrogen which has strong impact on sleep and mood
- Frequent sleep disrupters such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.
The entire body is affected when women begin to experience fluctuations in levels of progesterone and estrogen hormones. Sleep deprivation not only make a person feel miserable during the night, but more importantly, normal body functions get disrupted which lead to chronic symptoms and diseases.
Sleep Problems in all Stages of Menopause
1. Insomnia in Peri-Menopause:
During peri-menopause estrogen levels start decreasing and menopause-related symptoms start showing up. Hot flashes, night sweats, missed menstrual cycles are common symptoms and they may take up to 8-10 years in some cases. Sleep quality and quantity can become problematic as women go through peri-menopause. The disturbance of the sleep can change from being isolated symptoms to severe insomnia. About 80 percent of peri-menopausal women report sleep problems.
2. Insomnia in Menopause:
Menopausal symptoms can have a wide range in frequency and intensity. As many factors contribute to the sleep disruption, commonly it also follows the family history. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and anxiety will keep you awake in the night. Severe sleep disruption can turn to chronic insomnia for many women. Women in menopausal stage show higher rate of poor sleep, high risk of SDB, weight gain and increased RLS severity. Snoring, obesity, and high blood pressure are common risk factors for sleep apnea in menopause. These women can have morning headaches and excessive daytime sleepiness with severe mood disorders.
3. Insomnia in Post-Menopause:
After the first anniversary of last period, post-menopausal stage starts. Sleep can continue to be problematic in the postmenopausal years. About 61 percent of women who are post-menopausal have sleep problems. However, more frequently their symptoms go into chronic stage and become more serious. Some women may develop chronic insomnia because of long term sleep deprivation over the course of peri-menopausal and menopausal period. Insomnia can invite more health problems. Fatigue, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, memory problems, anxiety and depression are commonly associated with insomnia in post-menopausal women.
4. Insomnia in Surgical Menopause
Women can have surgical menopause at any age when estrogen producing organs are removed. Sudden drop of estrogen level in the body brings more severe symptoms. Women with surgical menopause experience more severe sleep deprivation and insomnia symptoms compared to women who have normal menopause. The consequences of deprived sleep can commonly lead to mental instability if not treated on time.
However, because of their younger age these women should always try safer methods first to improve their sleep quality and quantity.
Sleep Enhancement for Menopause-Related Insomnia
Deprivation from sleep can be improved by changing the lifestyle and using sleep aids such as weighted blankets. Our BB Weighted Blankets can also stimulate the metabolism and oxygenation of the tissues. FIR from our blankets relieve hot flashes, muscle/ joint pain and inflammation common during menopause.
There are many other measures you can take to improve your sleep:
1. Bedroom and living environment temperature
Keep your bedroom well-ventilated and with a cool temperature.
2. Choose the right bedding. Avoid overheating fabrics.
BB Weighted Blankets are made with a special performance fabric which lets the air have proper circulation. Your sweat dries up fast and so you don’t wake up during the night.
3. Eat healthy and balanced diet.
Eat foods which have estrogen-like effects as they may ease hot flashes. Soy, tofu, flax seed, fruits and nuts all have these effects.
4. Consider a natural remedy.
Natural hot-flash helper botanicals such as evening primrose and black cohosh can give you a restful sleep.
5. Don’t keep electronic devices in your bedroom.
The blue light from these devices keep your brain in active stage.
6. Try daily physical exercises.
Long, low-impact afternoon walks help you sleep better at night.
7. Manage your sleep schedule.
Don’t snooze during the day if you can’t sleep during night time.
8. Avoid caffeine intake in the afternoon.
In severe insomnia, doctors can recommend hormone replacement therapy. But natural therapies should be considered first.
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Author: Tina Ureten, MD, RDMS, RDCS