Are hormone changes keeping you awake at night? And what can you do about them?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 61% of menopausal women report experiencing insomnia symptoms. Find out what you can do to get a better night’s sleep.
The menopause can be a time of major hormonal, physical and psychological change for women. Hot flashes and night sweats are two of the most common side effects of the menopause, which in turn contribute to insomnia. But poor sleep may not just be caused by sleep disturbances; some women report an inability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
According to Kathy Abernethy, Menopause Specialist Nurse and Immediate Past Chair of the British Menopause Society, during the menopause, levels of oestrogen and progesterone, a sleep-promoting hormone, begin to decline. This shift in hormones can trigger a number of changes, including sleep onset insomnia (trouble getting to sleep) and maintenance insomnia (trouble staying asleep). As a result, some women describe an exhaustion that seems unrelenting.
In addition to unpleasant feelings of exhaustion, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences on physical health. According to the NHS, regular poor sleep can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, even shortening your life expectancy. There are also links between bad sleeping habits and mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
A popular treatment option for menopausal symptoms – such as hot flushes and insomnia – has been hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, some women may not want or need medical treatment. Instead, they may wish to consider an alternative approach to managing their menopausal symptoms.
It’s important that women know their available treatment options for the menopause, so they can make an informed choice. If women are experiencing disturbed sleep as a result of the menopause a valerian-based product could be considered to help aid sleep without leaving you feeling drowsy the next day.
Four strategies to help you get a good nights sleep
To improve your sleep through the menopause transition and beyond, here are four strategies to try.
- Review your routine – Go to bed and get up at a regular time. Routine is very important to establishing a good sleep pattern.
- Have a digital detox before bed – avoid ‘screen time’ close to bed time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, light expose and mental activity promotes wakefulness. Switch off your TV, phone, laptop and iPad to allow your brain to ‘wind down’ before bed.
- Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake, especially at night – both may disrupt your sleep as well as worsen symptoms such as flushes.
- Consider over the counter sleep aids – The valerian root extract found in Kalms One-A-Night tablets has been shown to improve the quality of sleep for menopausal women. Based on its long standing use as a traditional herbal remedy, Kalms One-A-Night is used to relieve sleeplessness, without causing drowsiness the next day.
Read more advice on the menopause
Need more help managing menopause symptoms? You can find more advice in these articles:
- 11 of the most frequently asked questions about the menopause – answered by a gynaecologist
- Meg Mathews: the six things no one tells you about the menopause (but should)
- What to eat to reduce your menopause symptoms
- Eight ways you can make the most of the menopause
Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk