Many women as they approach menopause, are going through menopause and even after menopause have difficulty getting a good night sleep. I am one of those women! I toss and turn and throw blankets on and off…During this time in our lives lack of sleep is primarily impacted by those pesky, irritable hormonal changes and its partner’s hot flashes and mood swings. And let’s not forget all the other stressors that impact our lives!
Hormonal changes : The decreased production of estrogen and progesterone, a sleep-promoting hormone occurs during peri-menopause and menopause. These changes often contribute to the inability to fall asleep. Also, decreasing levels of estrogen may make us more susceptible to environmental and other stressors which disrupt sleep.
Hot flashes/Night Sweats : During a hot flash you are experiencing a surge of adrenaline. This causes you to wake up. You become sweaty (even soaked), hot and awake! Unfortunately it may take time for this private sauna to recede and let you settle down into sleep again.
Depression/Mood Swings: Many women will experience depression during this phase of their lives and some cases have been linked to estrogen loss.
Stress: Aside from the hormonal changes you may be experiencing, we are often experiencing many other changes in our lives. Children move out of the home, children get married, divorce, retirement, work stress or lack of work, financial stress, grand children or you are just feeling some of the “midlife crisis” stress of getting to a new phase in life. These issues can interfere with your ability to sleep.
While those hormones don’t want to be controlled without help , you can control your sleep habits. So be consistent with wake up times, give yourself time to fall asleep at night and pay attention to your bedroom itself. Some suggestions that may help include:
Relaxation exercises (deep breathing, imagery….)
Make your room dark and quiet.
Keep your room as cool as you can (I sleep with the ceiling fan on and a fan blowing on me!).
Skip alcohol and tobacco (while a glass or two of wine may be initially relaxing, for some women it can later result in wakefulness later in the night).
Avoid eating within 3 hours of going to bed.
Keep a cloth in a bucket of ice near your bed so you can cool yourself quickly.
It is always important to talk with your doctor about sleep concerns and solutions. While hormone replacement therapy can help as well as antidepressants such as the SSRIs or anti-epilepsy drugs, non-medication options include:
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