<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?

Hormonal changes that occur during menopause can have a big impact on both your quality and quantity of 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. This is also why these are two of the most common stymptoms experienced amongst menopausal women.

Waking up in a pool of sweat can really disrupt your 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 and basically disrupt the whole next day.

The hormone oestrogen promotes good sleep - it helps the body use the serotonin and other sleep promoting chemicals. Oestrogen levels fall as we approach, during, and pass through menopause - meaning that at this time we're more likely to struggle with sleep.

The hormone progesterone is also helpful for sleep as it increases the production of a neurotransmitter called GABA. GABA enables our body and mind to realx - helping with sleep. Like most of our hormones, progesterone also falls during menopause - making our ability to have a good nights sleep that much harder.

Is it all hormones?

No! Many many things that happen during midlife can cause stress. Stress can be a huge sleep disturber! This is because it can be VERY hard to switch your brain off when you are experiencing high stress.

Life is busy - You may find that during your perimenopause/menopause things don't just slow down. Jobs, kids, friends, partners, ageing parents... This can lead to a huge amount of stress. Taking steps to manage all of this stress can help to improve your sleep too. Even just small changes, such as practicing mindfullness or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, may help you relax a bit more.

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].