Sleep problems from menopause is a common symptom most women begin to experience as they being the journey of ageing . The main reason for this is the hormonal changes which are part of a woman’s life. These reach a peak during her periods, pregnancy and menopause. It’s hardly surprising, then, that many women have difficulty sleeping in these phases of life, although the extent of the problem varies from person to person. Some women are more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations than others. And factors like stress, medication, illness, lifestyle and food also play a part.
So exactly how do your female hormones affect your sleeping patterns? One, progesterone, makes you feel sleepy and encourages deep sleep. Another, oestrogen, stimulates the dream stage of sleep. Because your ovaries produce less and less of both during the menopause, many women start sleeping badly. Reduced oestrogen levels also cut your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep at night. Lower progesterone levels have the same effect, and also make you more restless.
Hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings
The other symptoms of the menopause can also disrupt sleep. Hot flushes and night sweats, for example, affect eight out of ten women. They are the result of sudden rises in body temperature, which can easily wake you up. As can the damp, cold bedclothes caused by heavy perspiration. The hormonal changes also tend to stir up inner emotional turmoil, which can keep you awake or so disrupt your sleep that the slightest disturbance pulls you out of it.
How to sleep better
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome menopause-induced sleep problems. And you should do your best to beat them, because poor sleep can damage your health. Not only does it further upset your emotional balance, but there’s always the risk of being overwhelmed by tiredness at just the wrong moment – when driving, for instance. Lack of sleep also reduces your resistance to infections and other diseases.
Below are our top tips for better sleep during the menopause. Click here for more .
Drink plenty of water
Your body uses water to keep your temperature stable, so drinking plenty of it during the menopause helps subdue hot flushes.
Watch what you eat
Diet is a major factor influencing the intensity and frequency of hot flushes. So-called ‘phyto-oestrogens’, in particular, can have a really beneficial effect. These are oestrogen-like substances found in plant-based foods like soya products, almonds, pumpkin seeds, linseed (flax seed), chick peas, kidney beans, wheat, oats, barley and alfalfa.
On the other hand, some foodstuffs intensify hot flushes and so are more likely to disturb your sleep. For example, coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar, products containing white flour, spicy foods, products rich in protein, meat and poultry. You’re better off avoiding these as much as possible during the menopause.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
An unhealthy lifestyle is never good for restful sleep, during the menopause or in any other phase of life. Smoking, lack of exercise and stress are particularly bad, so avoid them. To cut down on stress, try taking up yoga or going for a walk before bedtime. A warm bath or shower last thing at night can also be very relaxing.
As mentioned earlier, your body produces less of the sleep hormone melatonin during the menopause. Because of this, you may not sleep so well. Light encourages the production of serotonin, the so-called ‘precursor’ of melatonin, so get as much as you can during the day. You might also benefit from prescription medication containing melatonin.
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Last updated on October 13, 2016.
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