Menopause and Sleep
Why can’t we sleep? Why is it in our 40’s, 50’s and beyond, we all of sudden revert back to our newborn selves?
Where we are up every 2-3 hours, crying, whining, fists in a ball ready to hit someone (and that someone is usually our significant other who is sleeping just fine right beside us).
Or, perhaps you are one of the chosen that can’t seem to fall asleep. You lie there getting more and more frustrated while your brain is doing a continuous play-by-play of the last 24 hours, and then 48 hours and then the last ten years.
Menopause & Sleep
Sleep disturbances (aka: insomnia) is common around the time of menopause, and while most women attribute their lack of shut eye to menopause symptoms there are many other reasons for sleep disturbances that healthcare professionals want us to look at.
Some factors to consider that may be distributing your sleep:
- Night sweats (which are simply hot flashes at night)
- Sleep-disordered breathing (known as sleep apnea)
- Restless legs syndrome
- Stress, anxiety and depression
- Painful chronic illnesses
- And even some medications can get in the way of sleeping
How to Sleep Better When In Menopause
The first order of treatment is to improve your sleep routine and sleep hygiene.
- Maintain regular hours of going to sleep each night and getting up each morning. Keep your sleep cycle the same, seven days a week.
- Get outside, and in some sunshine as soon as you can first thing in the morning (if the weather permits it), as well as in the afternoon. This will help set you body’s sleep cycle clock and aid in nixing any napping that could happen in the afternoon.
- Exercise on a regular basis, but avoid exercising too late in the evening – as it increases your alertness.
- Avoiding getting too warm while sleeping if you are prone to night sweats
- Sleep with a window open, or a fan on you
- Sleep in dri-fit clothes (to wick away the sweat)
- Buy moisture-wicking bed sheets (here’s a brand that got some great reviews)
- Don’t have any stimulants, such as caffeine and dark chocolate, 6-hours before bed.
- Have a light dinner and avoid alcohol. One drink is fine, but more drinks will only increase the chances of you waking up throughout the night.
- Shut down all your gadgets at least two hours before bedtime. The blue light in computers, tablets and phones is can block the production of your natural sleep hormone, melatonin. If you do have to be on your computer you can try blue light blockers. There are screen covers, as well as glasses that block the blue light out. For the glasses, this brand was the only one that passed the test by Consumer Reports.
- Give yourself at least an hour before bed to unwind and power down. Dim the lights and read a book, meditate, do some slow-flow yoga or yin yoga, or give my stretch workouts a try.
- When lifestyle changes fail to alleviate sleep disturbances, ask your doctor to refer you to a sleep centre to rule out sleep-related disorders before initiating prescription treatment.
- And, if your sleep disturbance is related solely to hot flashes, hormone therapy is likely to help.