Hormonal changes during menopause can trigger a number of unwelcome sleep disruptions. In fact, up to half of all menopausal women will experience sleep complications compared with 15 percent of the general population. Read on to learn about some of the most common sleep issues associated with menopause and discover smart ways for getting better sleep during this time of change.
The issue: Insomnia. Trouble falling or staying asleep during menopausal years is common. A number of factors contribute to worsening insomnia, such as hormonal changes as well as an increased risk for depression and mood swings.
Sleep solution: Set yourself up for success by avoiding alcohol or tobacco close to bedtime and winding down with relaxing activities such as taking a bath or reading a book. Talk with your doctor about whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be right for you. HRT involves taking estrogen, a hormone that your body produces less of during menopause. The treatment has been found to help women fall—and stay—asleep.
The issue: Night sweats. Nighttime hot flashes—also known as night sweats—can trigger sleep disturbances. These are caused by decreasing levels of estrogen and can lead to sudden feelings of warmth along with increased sweating. While they may not affect how much total sleep you get, night sweats can cause you to wake multiple times throughout the night, leading to feelings of fatigue the following day.
Sleep solution: Find relief at night by wearing loose, lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing. Use a bedside fan and keep a glass of cool water on your nightstand to sip on should you awaken. It’s also a good idea to avoid hot flash triggers such as spicy food, caffeine, and alcohol.
The issue: Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring and frequent gasp-like interruptions in breathing throughout the night that can disrupt your shut-eye and cause daytime fatigue. The risk of developing sleep apnea increases dramatically after menopause, possibly due to weight gain. The prevalence of sleep apnea in women with a relatively high BMI increases from 21 percent to 47 percent after menopause.
Sleep solution: It’s important to see your doctor if you suspect that you’re suffering from sleep apnea. If left untreated, the disorder can up the risk of heart trouble, diabetes, and more. Your physician will likely suggest lifestyle changes such as losing weight, changing your sleeping position, and using a breathing device that opens up airways.