Sleep is cherished by many and it can be life-limiting when it is disrupted by menopause sleep difficulties. We understand the fear and anxiety of lying in bed, waiting and wishing for sleep to come, or waking repeatedly during the night. You are not alone.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder where you have trouble sleeping at least three times a week for at least three months and you cannot function during the day.
While you may not have clinically diagnosed insomnia, menopause sleep difficulties can severely affect your functioning during the day and at work. Difficulties getting to sleep and staying asleep are common during menopause.
Sleep quality is important and deep sleep helps you feel rested and positively impacts your mental health and performance. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, but an average adult needs approximately 6-8 hours.
Start your free online menopause assessment to see if HRT is right for you
HOW LIKELY ARE PERIMENOPAUSE SLEEP PROBLEMS?
- Nearly half of women have menopause sleep issues
- Women aged 60+ are at a greater risk of sleep disruption
- Perimenopause sleep problems begin when your hormone levels start to fluctuate
Feeling tired can lead to other menopause symptoms such as anxiety, depression, brain fog and weight gain. Read more about the stages of menopause.
SIGNS OF SLEEP ISSUES
Can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed
Get fewer than six hours of sleep
Wake several times a night or lie awake for hours
Feel exhausted when waking and find it hard to concentrate
HOW CAN YOU REDUCE SLEEP DIFFICULTIES?
Did you know that changing your lifestyle and avoiding certain things can really help keep your symptoms under control?
3. Don’t eat late. Your body will find it hard to rest if it is dealing with a big meal close to bedtime.
4. Don’t exercise before bed. Try a relaxed wind-down routine in the few hours before bedtime
5. Reduce screen time. Keep off your mobile and laptops in the hour before bedtime and keep your mobile out of your room if you are tempted to scroll during the night if you wake.
WOULD HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) HELP?
Yes. HRT is known to improve sleep, mood and hot flushes during menopause. However, HRT comes with risks and is not suitable for everyone. Read more about the HRT debate.
It might be that your doctor recommends another medicine, such as clonidine or some antidepressants that can help with hot flushes. Speak to your doctor about your personal treatment options.
ARE THERE MENOPAUSE SLEEP AIDS I CAN TRY?
Great care needs to be taken when considering natural remedies for menopause sleep problems. Firstly, research studies on herbal supplements are small with limited reliable evidence. This makes it hard for clinicians to determine whether a remedy is safe and effective. Also, the quality and purity of the preparation you want to buy may be unknown. Read more on what are the best supplements for menopause.
If you are finding sleep difficult during menopause, it’s worth evaluating your lifestyle and seeing if improvements result in better sleep. Take a look at your nutrition, stress management and exercise levels, as these can really help improve your sleep and health, both now and in later life.
SLEEP AND MENOPAUSE
As we go through menopause and perimenopause, our oestrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate.
A decline in oestrogen causes vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats which can cause sleep issues. Reduced levels of sleep-inducing hormone progesterone may cause sleep apnoea and snoring.
Also, as we age, we naturally produce less melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, which means sleep can become lighter and more disrupted.
Melatonin helps regulate our body clock. We have low melatonin during the day when it is light and high melatonin at night, when it is dark.
Menopause not sleeping
Fluctuating hormone levels can cause the following symptoms, which can disrupt sleep:
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Mood changes, such as anxiety and depression
- Going to the toilet during the night
- Joint and muscle pains
- Restless legs syndrome – a tingling, crawling sensation
- Sleep apnoea – reduced progesterone may contribute to airway obstruction. It is more common after surgical menopause and weight gain may be a factor
Sleep issues can also be caused by changes in medication and supplements, an unhealthy diet, eating late, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and stress.
Poor sleep can increase your risks of:
- Mood disorders
- Cognitive function, such as loss of focus and forgetfulness, and dementia
- Cardiovascular disease
You can be at greater risk of the following if you cannot sleep well:
- High blood pressure and heart disease
- Gastrointestinal issues
- If changing your sleeping habits doesn’t work
- Your symptoms are getting worse, or not improving
- You are unable to function during the day or at work
Nothing can describe the panic of knowing you have to be up in a couple of hours and you’ve lain awake all night”
- Insomnia – NHS
- Sleep: A Health Imperative | Sleep | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
- Sleep Health: Can We Define It? Does It Matter?
- Does Menopause Make You Tired? | Health & Her
- Park S-Y, Oh M-K, Lee B-S, et al. The effects of alcohol on quality of sleep. Korean J Fam Med. 2015;36(6):294-299. doi:10.4082/kjfm.2015.36.6.294
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use
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- Behnood Abbasi, Masud Kimiagar, Khosro Sadeghniiat, Minoo M. Shirazi, Mehdi Hedayati, Bahram Rashidkhani. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec; 17(12): 1161–1169.