<img src="https://api-s.withalva.com/image.gif" alt="">
LibraryStories

Getting enough sleep

Many women find their sleep changes during menopause. The hormonal changes that come with menopause can change both the quantity and the quality of your sleep. Here we explain why that happens, and share some tips for getting more sleep.

How does menopause change sleep?

The hormonal changes during menopause can have a big impact our our rest because they trigger changes in our body temperature. The swings in hormone levels, particularly oestrogen, can trigger hot flushes and night sweats for many women. Waking up in a pool of sweat can really disrupt sleep for the whole night. After a night sweat women often can't get back to sleep easily. As anyone with kids will know, things which wake you up in the middle of the night can cause major tiredness the next day. Overall both the quantity and quality can suffer.

The hormone oestrogen also helps promote good sleep - as it helps the body use serotonin and other chemicals in the brain which help us sleep. Oestrogen levels fall during as we approach and pass through menopause meaning we're more likely to struggle with sleep.

The hormone progesterone is also helpful for sleep. Progesterone increases the production of a neurotransmitter called GABA which is known to help with sleep. Like most of our hormones, progesterone falls during menopause. Low progesterone can lead to problems with waking up during the night.

Is it all hormones?

No! Many many things that happen during midlife can cause stress. Stress can have a huge impact on sleep - from causing disturbances to struggling to switch off when you go to bed.

Peri/menopausal women have a lot going on at once including jobs, kids, partners and aging parents... This can lead to a huge amount of stress. Taking steps to manage stress can help to improve sleep to.

What can I do to improve my sleep?

There are a lot of tips on how to help with sleep, but not all them are evidence based. Here’s a few we’ve selected from research:

  • Be careful with eating large meals before bed. Also avoid foods which may trigger hot flushes, such as spicy food.
  • Avoid stimulants including nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before bed.
  • Sleep in lightweight, breathable clothing.
  • If you’re struggling to sleep in bed - try moving location. Don’t lie there getting worked up about not sleeping. It’s better to get up, do something different and to try and settle elsewhere.
  • If you feel anxiety is preventing you from falling asleep - there are some things that can help. This can be anything from relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, before bed to a Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and well-ventilated.
  • Maintain a regular bedtime.
  • Exercise during the day, but not too close to sleep.
  • Make sure you empty your bladder before bed. If you struggle with bladder problems, try limiting the amount you drink for a few hours before bed.

References

  1. Sleepfoundation.org. n.d. Menopause & Sleep - National Sleep Foundation. [online]
    Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/menopause-and-sleep [Accessed 23 March 2020].