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Insomnia

One of the Most Difficult Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause Symptom No. 2

Insomnia is one of the most difficult symptoms of menopause. Even women who are normally able to sleep soundly through the night can begin experiencing difficulty going to sleep or maintaining good quality of sleep in perimenopause and beyond.

The risk of insomnia increases into menopause. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, 39% to 47% of women in perimenopause experience insomnia.

What is insomnia?

 According to the Mayo clinic, Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. You may still feel tired when you wake up.

Insomnia can deeply affect your health and energy levels. It can cause you to experience mood swings and impatience with others, but it also has a detrimental effect on the quality of your work, your relationships, and your life.

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

Insomnia symptoms may include:

  • Not falling asleep easily at night
  • Disturbed sleep during the night (waking up often)
  • Waking up too early
  • Feeling groggy and not well-rested in the morning
  • Tiredness or sleepiness during the day
  • Depression, anxiety, or irritability
  • Lack of focus, difficulty concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Making more mistakes or having more accidents due to lack of focus
  • worry about sleep continually

Insomnia is one of the most difficult symptoms of menopause

Why does insomnia happen?

The low estrogen and progesterone level in menopausal women increase the risk of insomnia and mood disturbances in menopausal women.

In menopause, progesterone and estrogen decline. The decline of Progesterone, in particular, may cause sleep irregularities since progesterone acts on the brain pathways to help induce sleep.

Additionally, melatonin, which is a sleep regulating hormone, decreases with age, and particularly during menopause because the production of melatonin is affected by estrogen and progesterone as well. This increases the problem further, just to make things a little more interesting!🥺

The decrease of progesterone and well as possible weight gain can further affect the breathing patterns during sleep which can decrease the quality of sleep in menopause. More fun!😢

Insomnia is one of the most difficult symptoms of menopause

How to help yourself manage insomnia? Insomnia – One of the Most Difficult Symptoms of Menopause

1-Eat a Healthy Diet

Guess what? We are going to tell you, again, to take care about the food you eat. This can become repetitive, but one of the best things you can do for your body is to be careful about what you put in it.

As women go through menopause, they tend to put on weight. Maintaining a healthy weight goes a long way towards better sleep (and a smaller wardrobe). Avoid large meals in the evening, as well as spicy or acidic food. Even chocolate is best avoided in the late afternoon (We know.. not cool!)

Try to avoid smoking, coffee, and alcohol, particularly in the late afternoon, as they can disrupt sleep and lessen the quality of your sleep. Alcohol, in particular, may help relax you and get you to sleep faster, but hello.. it will cause you not only to wake up but to stay awake during the night. Talk about paying for little pleasures!

Research quoted in a recent Harvard Medical School article has shown that women with a diet high in glycemic index (refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sugar) are more likely to develop insomnia during menopause. The risk of developing insomnia was lower in women who ate more whole fruits and vegetables. Eat those veggies.

2-Manage Stress 

If you are stressed, your thoughts can make you anxious, and you will find it more difficult to fall asleep. When you don’t sleep enough or well, you get more stressed. Quite a catch 22, isn’t it?

Relaxation strategies such as yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation can go a long way towards lowering stress levels. If you have not tried them before, they are worth a shot… just don’t stress about it!

3-Establish Routines

Routine is very important for good sleep patterns. Set a routine for going to bed and for waking up at certain times. This may take a few weeks to become a habit, but it is a good habit to cultivate.

Before bed, do a relaxing activity like listening to music. Turn off all electronics and avoid screens of any kind. If you want to read before sleeping, stick to a real book… you know, the kind with pages that you actually turn, not swipe.

4-Reduce Liquids Before Bed

Stop drinking liquids two or three hours before bedtime, and use the bathroom before going to bed to avoid needing to go during the night. If you do get up at night, just think of it as counting towards the number of steps for the day.

5-Avoid Naps

Avoid napping during the day. If you must nap, make sure it is no more than 30 minutes in the early afternoon.

6-Create a Restful Bedroom Insomnia – One of the Most Difficult Symptoms of Menopause

Ensure that you have a good mattress and good quality bedding made from natural materials like cool cotton. These are essential for a good night’s rest, and as a plus, feel great against the skin.

Keep your bedroom temperature cool by keeping the bedroom thermostat to around 18 degrees Celsius/65 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows for better quality of sleep.

Do not allow TVs or electronics into your bedroom.

7-Keep Clothing Light

Keep your nightgown or pajamas lightweight. Use natural fibers like cotton, linen, or – if you are willing to splurge – silk. Keep a change of night clothing by your bedside as you might wake up with night sweats and need to change quickly in order to get back to sleep.

8-Regulate Exercise

Exercising every day helps you sleep better at night. However, avoid exercising within two hours of going to sleep; it will make you more alert and may make it more difficult to fall asleep. Do not use that as an excuse not to exercise, though!

9-Sleep Restriction

This is a method that can be used to help ‘retrain’ your body rhythms. A Harvard Medical School article says that “ Some sleep experts suggest starting with six hours at first, or whatever amount of time the patient typically sleeps at night. Setting a rigid early morning waking time often works best. If the alarm is set for 7 a.m., a six-hour restriction means staying awake until 1 a.m., no matter how sleepy. Once the patient is sleeping well during the allotted six hours, he or she can add another 15 or 30 minutes until attaining a healthy amount of sleep”.

This may be something to try to see if it helps with overcoming insomnia.

What should you do if you wake up at night?

  • Do not turn the television or phone on.
  • Stay in bed with the lights off and try to get back to sleep
  • If you are still awake after 20 minutes, go to another room and do something low key (like reading or listening to soft music) until you feel sleepy again. Do not stay in bed tossing and turning as this becomes counterproductive.

Insomnia is one of the most difficult symptoms of menopause

Other Considerations

Remember that things other than menopause can interfere with sleep. Physical symptoms such as inflammation or pain in the legs or joints or certain medications can interfere with sleep. If you suffer from such symptoms, please check with your physician.

Sleep issues are a common experience of menopause. Experiencing insomnia can feel like torture, especially when you are tired and badly need the rest. If your sleep issues continue, seek out a therapist trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) who has experience working with menopausal women. CBT has been shown to be more effective for people who stick to the therapy than medication for treating insomnia.

Insomnia is one of the most difficult symptoms of menopause

Read about other symptoms of perimenopause and menopause:

  1. Hot Flashes
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