Menopause can be a time of major hormonal, physical and psychological change for women. Although symptoms vary from woman to woman, “as many as 61%” of women have reported insomnia problems1, both during perimenopause and post-menopause. Difficulty sleeping during this time can be attributed to hot flushes, night sweats, or mood swings. It can also be caused by hormonal changes, as levels of oestrogen and progesterone, a sleep-promoting hormone, are decreasing. If you wake up at night, it may take some time to settle and fall back asleep. While your total sleep time may not suffer, your sleep quality will, and this can cause next-day fatigue. Below, you’ll find some ideas to help you get to sleep – and stay asleep.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a treatment that relieves menopausal symptoms by replacing the hormones that are at a lower level as you approach the menopause. However, HRT can increase the risk of breast cancer2, so always consult your doctor for more information before you decide if HRT is right for you.
Follow Good Sleep Hygiene
A regular sleep schedule will improve the quality of your sleep. You should try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day – including weekends. Making your bedroom cool and dark will also help you fall asleep easier. Avoid watching TV, doing work, or any other hobbies in bed as your brain will associate your bed with these activities. As a result, you’ll find it harder to switch off when the lights go off. If you wake up during the night or have trouble falling asleep for more than twenty minutes, get out of bed and go to another room. Your brain will associate your bed with sleeplessness if you stay in bed, so it’s best to avoid this.
Have A Soothing Bedtime Routine
Relaxing before bedtime will improve the quality of your sleep. Taking a warm bath before going to bed is a great way to unwind. As the hot water evaporates from your skin, your body will naturally cool down and you’ll feel more tired. You can also practice meditation or deep breathing exercises. Writing down any stressful or worrying thoughts you have in a journal to clear your mind is another good way to settle at night. Plus, you can try drinking bedtime tea or a glass of milk to help you relax.
Invest In Cool, Comfortable Bedding
As hot flushes and night sweats are some of the most common attributes to poor quality of sleep, having bedding that regulates body heat temperatures is a great idea. Many mattresses feature cooling comfort layers, while cooling pillows and mattress toppers help to keep your body temperature steady, so you won’t wake up as often when your body heat fluctuates. Browse cooling pillow and mattress protectors here. Choosing sheets that are made of breathable cotton will also keep you from getting too warm. You could also consider waterproof mattress toppers that will give you complete peace of mind.
Exercise regularly, in the morning and outside if possible. Natural sunlight will give you an energy boost if you’ve had a poor sleep, and it’ll also help your brain maintain regular circadian rhythm. Find out more about circadian rhythm here.
Be Mindful Of What You Eat And Drink
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and limit your overall intake during the day. Caffeine wakes you up and increases stress, which will only make sleeping harder. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol; while it can help you fall asleep, it creates a rebound effect that wakes you up earlier than you’d like. Avoiding overly sugary or fatty foods will improve the quality of your sleep as these are bad for your health, hormones and, consequently, your sleep. You could instead try soy products, like tofu, soybeans, and soymilk, as they contain phytoestrogen, a plant hormone similar to oestrogen. This may help to relieve hot flushes, so you can enjoy an undisturbed sleep. Also, increased need to urinate is a menopausal symptom, so limit your overall liquid intake late at night. It’s also a good idea to go to the bathroom one last time before going to bed. However, keep a cool glass of water by your bed during the night in case you wake up from a hot flush and need to cool down.