Menopause is the stage in a woman’s life in which her ovaries halt their production of progesterone and estrogen, which stops her body from menstruating. It is a normal aging process that represents the end of the reproductive years of a woman’s life. Menopause usually happens in the late 40’s or early 50’s of a female’s life. One lesser-known effect of menopause is that it often leads to sleep issues. We’ve created a guide for those women who are struggling with sleep loss caused by the onset of their menopause. Keep reading to find out why sleep loss occurs and what you can do about it.
Why Does Sleep Loss Occur?
When your ovaries are no longer able to create progesterone and estrogen, the lack of these hormones produces various symptoms like sweating and hot flashes. Between 75 and 85 percent of women going through menopause have hot flashes, which lasts an average of five years. Having constant sweating and hot flashes can make it tough to sleep. One study done by the National Sleep Foundation found that around 61 percent of women going through menopause had trouble falling and staying asleep. Often, hot flashes happen in the middle of the night, which leads to drenching night sweats. Some women even have to change sheets or clothes, which causes them to feel even more awake and unable to fall back asleep.
HRT is the Traditional Method of Subsiding Menopause Symptoms
If you are experiencing a lack of sleep every night because of your menopause symptoms, then HRT can aid in turning down the heat and allowing you to get a restful night of sleep once again. Hormone Replacement Therapy is the traditional method of treating moderate to severe hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. However, some women are not eligible for such treatment. For instance, those who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer, have had a previous blood clot or certain other types of medical conditions are not recommended for HRT.
Medicinal Alternatives to HRT
For those women whom HRT is not recommended for, several medicinal options are available as an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. This includes a low-dose of antidepressants such as Prozac. Additionally, for those women who are premenopausal, a low dose of birth control pills can also help in controlling hot flashes
Exercise Helps with Sleep Loss
One study conducted by Northwestern University found that participating in aerobic exercise improves your mood, vitality, and quality of sleep. It is recommended that you do moderate aerobic exercise, at least, four times a week to see significant improvements in your sleep. Keep in mind that the timing of your exercise is a critical component of sleep quality. Avoid any exercising two to three hours before you go to bed, as this can be counterproductive and do more harm than good.
Caffeine is a type of stimulant that can take up to eight hours to fully leave your system. Besides keeping you up at night, caffeine can also make your hot flashes worse. It is recommended that you avoid any type of caffeine source altogether if you are having problems with night sweats and insomnia. However, if you must have it then make sure that it is at the beginning of your day. Additionally, avoid drinking alcohol before falling asleep as it also triggers hot flashes and prevents you from getting deep, restful sleep.
Make Sure You Stay Cool
To avoid night sweats and hot flashes ensure that your bedroom temperature is low and comfortable. Wear something that is made of breathable cotton, whether it is a nightgown or pajamas and use cotton sheets instead of any synthetic materials. Before getting into bed, it is also a good idea to take a cool shower to lower your body temperature. If you do wake up because of a hot flash or another reason, then don’t lie in bed tossing and turning. If you are not able to fall back asleep after 20 minutes, then get up and do a relaxing activity to help you feel sleepy such as reading, meditating or drinking a cup of chamomile tea. Keep in mind that worry about falling asleep will keep you from doing so.