We all know menopause brings hot flashes and mood swings, but the things the takes many women by surprise is the inability to sleep. Otherwise known as menopausal insomnia.
This trouble sleeping often comes before the other stages of menopause, during a period of a women’s life known as perimenopause. This is the stage between full fertility and full menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less progesterone and estrogen. Progesterone in particular is important hormone for regulating sleep cycles.
Perimenopause generally starts when a woman is in her 40s, but it can start later in their 30s or even earlier.
If you’re suffering from menopause related insomnia, you are certainly not alone. In one study, as few as 45% of perimenopausal women reported that they were able to get a good night’s sleep.
Don’t despair, before you go reaching for handfuls of horse tranquilizers in search of sleep, take a look at the tips for a good night’s rest below…
Talk to your GP about HRT
When it comes to anything to do with your health and especially something as important to your physical and mental wellbeing as sleep, your first port of call should always be your GP. Then, where appropriate, your gynecologist.
Not only will they be able to give qualified advice they will also be able to prescribe you any medication that may be helpful.
Many women going through the menopause choose to undergo some form of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). This is where a woman will take supplemental estrogen. Taking the edge off the symptoms of menopause by replacing some of the hormone no longer being produced by the ovaries.
HRT has been found to be quite useful in combating menopausal insomnia, but the treatment is controversial (what isn’t?). Many women swear by it, while others wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot barge pole, for a number of reasons..
Do your research, talk to your doctor, weigh up the pros and cons, and remember every women and every menopause is different. What worked for Gillian in Accounting, may not work for you!
Go easy on the coffee
Actually go easy on any substance involving caffeine – everyone’s favourite drug of choice. That means avoiding coffee, fizzy drinks, tea, and even chocolate. Yep, even chocolate. Go on, put down that bar of Fruit & Nut. I’ll wait.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. More powerful than almost anybody realises. The caffeine in that Americano you shared with the girls after lunch can take as long as eight hours to leave your system. Eight hours people!
So, at the very least make sure you get your coffee fix in the AM. Or better yet if you’re suffering from any form of insomnia, skip the coffee entirely. Oh, and the tea. If you find yourself longing for a brew just have a decaf, or try a cup of tasty Rooibos instead.
Not only will avoiding caffeine increase your odds of a better night’s kip. Caffeine, and alcohol, are both potential triggers of menopausal hot flashes too. So, kill two birds with one stone and say no to that cup of joe.
While you’re giving things up, why not give up kidding yourself and do something about that poor excuse for a bed If your sleeping surface is sagging, creaky or lumpy you’re not doing your sleep any favours at all. Menopause or no menopause.
Get your yoga on
Nothing is better for helping you sleep than getting a good healthy dose of exercise. This stands true whether you’re a hormone-filled teenager who can’t sleep on a hormone-depleted women experiencing menopausal insomnia.
To some extent it doesn’t really matter what exercise you do, just make sure you get a little bit sweaty and out of breath every single day. Although that said, not all exercises are created equally when it comes to encouraging sleep.
Yoga, with its focus on relaxation and long-held stretches, is the absolute perfect pre-bed exercise. It tires the body, while simultaneously lowering the breathing and heart rate. Ideal.
That is traditional hatha yoga anyway. Not one of the power-yogas like ashtanga or vinyasa, which tend to be a little bit more high impact and taxing.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to be some lithe young thing, folding yourself like a pretzel to get the somnambulatory effect of yoga. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home.
Yoga is the perfect exercise for people who aren’t into exercise – all you need is a space on the floor to practice.
Don’t know where to start, well fortunately YouTube is packed full of lessons for all levels,
try this gentle seven minute class to get you started.
Come on, seven minutes! Everyone – including you – can fit that into their pre-bed routine.
Well, there you have it – three tips to help you put menopausal insomnia to bed once and for all.
Article written for Unfading Beauty by The Sleep Advisor