One of the most debilitating things about midlife for women can be how menopause affects our sleep.
If you are a menopausal woman odds are you have had nights when you have woken and not gone back to sleep or maybe you’ve had trouble getting off to sleep then finally succumbed in the wee small hours.
As we enter perimenopause,
our hormones are not descending in a straight line. Like our moods, it’s more of an out of control roller coaster, while the body gets used to its new way of being. It’s what causes the symptoms that go along with menopause. The odds are against us and really, considering what we are up against it is a wonder that we sleep at all.
Hormones regulate your energy, the way you function, and how well you sleep.
Estrogen is the primary hormone...
in regulating our reproductive function and monthly cycle. It also promotes good sleep. When our estrogen levels are good we enjoy positive moods, good skin, mental clarity and good sleep. When they are low we can suffer from anxiety, fatigue, fogginess, headaches and poor sleep
Hot flushes and night sweats don’t allow for a good night's sleep. And they can be attributed in part to lowering levels of estrogen.
It is a double-edged sword as sleep disturbance can, in turn, lead to anxiety and depression.
Progesterone works in tandem...
with estrogen and has a sleep-inducing effect. Its levels also decline in menopause.
Low progesterone, like estrogen, can also contribute to anxiety and poor sleep.
The decline in progesterone can reduce our upper airway capacity making it more difficult to breath easy. Menopausal women are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than their non-menopausal counterparts.
is a hormone which also plays an important part in our sleep and this too also decreases as we age.
What we can do to improve our chances of sleep
I love coffee, red wine and granny naps as much as the next menopausal woman but the trade-off can be good night’s sleep. So damned unfair!
Other things to consider are:
- Stick to a regular sleep pattern. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day.
- Develop a soothing bedtime routine.
- Stay off electronic devices at night. The light from these devices may make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
- Wear an eye mask if need be.
- Exercise at regular times but not at night.
- Stop eating several hours before bedtime.
- Developing our mindfulness with meditation and/or yoga.
- Cut sugar from your diet.
in menopause can also be worse if sleep is a problem. Without sleep we tend to be more anxious and stressed which gives a nice clear path to that demon hormone, cortisol. Cortisol will cause your insulin levels to rise which in turns sees your blood sugar levels drop leaving you craving all the sugary things.
So with the odds against us...
it is important when menopause affects our sleep to develop habits to keep our sleep quality from deteriorating and the effects of that snowballing into our health and well being.