Menopause and Sleep

How to Relieve Menopause Sleep Problems

Menopause and sleep problems typically start to occur when a woman reaches her late 40's to early 50's. 

Early signs of menopause such as hot flashes can actually start much earlier which can wreak havoc when trying to get a good nights rest.

How does menopause affect sleep?

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when the function of the ovaries ceases. During this stage in a woman's life, her ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone which leads to her monthly menstrual cycle stopping. 

The end of the menstrual cycle is a normal part of aging and marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. Unfortunately, menopause can lead to sleep problems. 

When the ovaries no longer produce adequate amounts of estrogen and progesterone, the loss of these hormones can bring about various menopause symptoms. Common symptoms include hot flashes. Hot flashes are when you suddenly feel a warmth spreading throughout your body. Also, night sweating is another common symptom. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 61% of menopausal women have sleep problems. Menopause and sleep difficulties can lead to other problems, such as daytime drowsiness. 

Menopause sleep problems are associated with the function of your hormones and also psychological factors play a role. 

Hot flashes that occur during sleep have the ability to affect the quality of sleep adversely by keeping women from a deeper, more restful sleep. Hot flashes can make a woman less restful. 

Increased depression or anxiety are also symptoms of menopause and sleep quality can be negatively impacted. 

Menopause and Sleep

Hot flashes and what to do for menopause interrupted sleep

To avoid hot flashes that disturb your menopause and sleep...

  • Watch what you eat.
    Avoid hot, spicy foods, especially meals late in the day or right before you go to bed.

  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine in the evening.
    It's not good idea to smoke, drink caffeinated coffee or drink sodas loaded with caffeine late in the day.

  • Avoid alcohol in the evening.
    Some general guidelines for alcohol consumption are to limit your alcohol drinking to 1 drink a day. For women, heavy alcohol use is 7 standard drinks a week or more than 3 drinks in a day. Drinking too much alcohol may bring on menopause symptoms by changing your hormone levels. Also, drinking too much also increases your risk for developing heart disease and osteoporosis.

  • Incorporate bedtime rituals to help you get to sleep.
    Maintain a regular bedtime schedule. Spending some quiet time relaxing can help you fall asleep easier. Listening to soft music and drinking herbal tea can signal to your body it's time to sleep.

  • Sleep comfortably and cool.
    Dress in layers of clothes that are easy to remove. Sleep beneath layers of bedding that are easily discarded when you feel a hot flash coming.

  • Exercise during the day.
    During exercise, chemicals within the brain are released causing good feelings. These chemicals combat depression which then helps you sleep and will likely help you deal with the menopause symptoms.

  • Reduce stress in your life.
    You can really help manage your menopause symptoms by reducing your level of stress in your life. Use stress reducing techniques such as deep breathing exercises, listening to music that relaxes you, and exercise.

Menopause and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is common in older women that have passed through menopause. 

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes lapses in breathing during sleep. 

The sufferer will awaken from sleep gasping for breath because of temporary cessation of breathing. Women that suffer from sleep apnea experience a poor night’s sleep and daytime drowsiness. 

What is sleep apnea? 

When you're awake, throat muscles help keep your airway stiff and open so air can flow into your lungs. 

When you sleep, these muscles are more relaxed. 

Normally, the relaxed throat muscles don't stop your airway from staying open to allow air into your lungs. 

Your airways can be blocked or narrowed during sleep causing sleep apnea if...

  • Throat muscles and tongue are relaxing more than normal.

  • Your tongue and tonsils are very large in comparison to the windpipe opening.

  • You're overweight, the extra soft fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe making the inside opening narrow and harder to keep open.

  • The body shape of your head and neck cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.

  • As you get older, it's more difficult for brain signals to keep your throat muscles stiff during sleep. This increases the chances the airway will narrow or collapse.

Menopause and sleep problems, hormone imbalance isn't the only cause of sleep problems

Even though you may be going through the stages of menopause, your problems sleeping may not be directly related to menopause. Untreated sleep disorders, medical issues, or poor sleeping habits can all disturb your sleeping. 

If you are a senior and you are having trouble sleeping well, consider some common causes of sleep problems.

  • Poor sleep habits. The most common cause of insomnia in the elderly is poor sleep habits or a poor sleep environment. Irregular sleep hours, too much daytime napping, and consumption of alcohol before bedtime can all cause problems sleeping.

  • Sleep disorders. Older adults are more likely to experience insomnia and sleep-disordered breathing such as sleep apnea and snoring.

  • Pain or illness. Pain can keep you from sleeping well. Common health conditions such as frequent need to urinate, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes mellitus, menopause, asthma, nighttime heartburn, and Alzheimer's can interfere with sleeping.

  • Lack of exercise. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, you may not feel tired enough to go to sleep. 

  • Medications. Old folks tend to take more medications than do younger people. The side-effects of drugs and also certain combinations of drugs can impair sleep or even keep you awake.

  • Psychological stress or psychological disorders. The death of a loved one or moving from a family home can cause stress. Anxiety or sadness can keep you from sleeping which then also causes even more anxiety or depression.

› Menopause and Sleep

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