Menopause is a natural part of aging that a woman goes through. It happens when a female does not have periods for more than a year and cannot get pregnant any more. It marks the end of a women’s re-productivity period. It mostly begins with her turning 45, but can develop before and after too.
Most women experience it between the ages of 45 to 55, as her estrogen and progesterone levels decline. The decrease in the production of these hormones by ovaries cause disturbed health conditions like hot flashes, night sweats, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia. The severity and the period of menopause are directly dependent on the family history.
Menopause And Insomnia
Insomnia already affects women to a greater extent as compared to that of a man. The chart below compares the sleep complaints recorded by women and men
Mostly women who complain about insomnia in their late 30’s and 40’s are actually experiencing the start of their transition to menopause which is known as perimenopause. The hormonal changes that take place inside a female’s body during that time have a high impact on her sleep pattern.
As many as 61% of women are reported to suffer from insomnia symptoms. Sleep onset insomnia is the highly reported insomnia during menopause. In this phase it is very difficult to sleep moreover, one has to face a lot of trouble staying asleep, sleep maintenance insomnia.
There are two stages of menopause; peri-menopause and post-menopause. Perimenopause at times start as much as 10 years before menopause begins but a larger percentage of women experience it just 5 years before.
Insomnia at its initial stage does create discomfort in the face of temporary insomnia. Women do develop permanent insomnia if the ratio of sleepless nights during post-menopause is high. This needs to be treated with regular medication to overcome it and to decrease the severity of sleep disorder to enjoy a normal sleep.
How Does Menopause Affect Sleep?
Menopause is one part of a lifelong shift in women’s hormone balance. It is usually described as a horrible experience on a roller coaster of emotions, physical changes and disturbed sleep. During menopause, a woman’s ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone. Both these hormones are sleep-promoting hormones.
With a reduction in the production of hormones, the sleeping hours decreases too – as well as headaches, cramping, anxiety and low mood, all these symptoms compounds to sleep problems. Less time is spent in REM sleep. It is the stage of sleep when one is ‘dreaming’ which is directly linked memory and mood changes; mood swings to be more realistic.
Restless legs syndrome leaves a great impact on one’s sleep since it is causing discomfort through tingling in lower limbs and feet. The pain is often described as ‘pins and needles’. The pain triggers when a person lies down in a sleeping position.
Snoring is a very common change and it along with pauses in breathing during sleeping indicates a serious sleep disorder known as, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
How To Sleep Better During Menopause?
- Be punctual and maintain a regular bedtime schedule by going to bed at the same time every night.
- Wear loose clothes to bed usually made of natural fabric like cotton.
- Create a comfortable and soothing atmosphere which is perfect for sleeping. This could be done by keeping your bedroom temperature cool so it’s easier to hibernate and get to sleep earlier. A well-ventilated room is a better place to sleep as our body easily gets adjusted to the temperature and our sleep doesn’t get interrupted in case of hot flashes and sweats.
- Keep your room dark and turn off any alarm and cell phones.
- Eat earlier and taking a warm glass of milk as a snack is advised. Sleep lighter on tummy since a heavier meal can make you uncomfortable while you are sleeping.
- Bring changes in your meals by avoiding food that can cause sweating. Reducing the number of spices in your food will help a lot.
- Finding peace in nature by going on a morning walk to keep your body healthier.
- Find ways that relax you and helps you to sleep with ease. Yoga or light workout just before you hit your blanket can relax your mind and muscles.
- Inco-operate healthy practices in your day and say bye to bad habits like smoking and drinking.
- Taking hormones replacement therapy to maintain estrogen levels.
- Low-dose antidepressants to help you sleep better.
- Don’t forget to visit your doctor if you have had a terrible last night. Talk to your doctor about the medication so changes for your betterment could be made.
- Going to the bathroom to empty your bladder is a magical tip. Since, frequent urination is a common symptom.
- Do not nap during the day. This will reduce your sleeping hours.
- Make sure that you make the best out of your day and you need to sleep to refill your energy. The more productive your day is the better sleep you get.
- Avoid consumption of caffeine as it boosts your energy level and keeps you active for a longer time.
- Use of natural supplements to limit low sleep.
Is There A Connection Between Menopause And Insomnia?
Menopause and insomnia are pretty much linked together. Menopause in any stage be it peri-menopause or post-menopause do cause insomnia but the intensity does vary. Doctors say that sleeplessness is said to be the ‘worst’ part of the changes that take place in a woman’s life due to menopause.
Reduction in the production of hormones estrogen and progesterone enables you to sleep deeply and for a longer time. This does at time cause to obesity which does result in breathing problems during sleep. Anxiety can also prevent you from sleeping and when at last after a struggle of hours with your mind you get to sleep
Is Insomnia Treated Differently When It’s Related To Menopause?
Yes, insomnia is treated differently when it’s caused due to menopause. Since it is because of a natural change and every woman have to go through it and that too for a longer period of time, it is taken seriously. Medication is made a part of the treatment along with changes in lifestyle.
Visiting doctor at the initial stages for guidance can help you recover through it soon. Talk with your doctor can be very helpful as you will know what next is to come and you can take precautions to avoid major changes.
Some Solutions For Insomnia During Menopause
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the traditional treatment for insomnia during menopause. In this process, the estrogen level inside your body is increased by pills, patches or vaginal creams. At times progesterone is also given but this is only for women who haven’t gotten their uterus removed. Considering consuming melatonin could be helpful too as it helps to restore sleep cycle.
The intensity of insomnia during menopause varies from women to women. If the symptoms are not severe than anti-depressant is the best option. Consuming them would be a wise decision if one does not want to go through HRT. A low dose of relaxants will bring your muscles to ease and your comfort level will drive you to sleep in no time. But these should be avoided since they can be addictive.
Meditation is another approach. It is for people who have very strong willpower and do listen to their internal needs. They have a belief that, they the best about themselves and find a solution for their own selves. Practice meditation just before, or while on the bed.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a very effective psychotherapy for treating insomnia. This brings a break to the troubling thought process of the patient and makes their sleep pattern better. Changes in life style are brought through sleep promoting habits. This is a magical psychotherapy and effective for a good number of people.