Going through menopause and can’t sleep? As women near the age of menopause, they start experiencing major hormonal, physical, and psychological changes for women, and it can even cause disturbance in their sleep patterns. For the unversed, menopause is when women’s bodies’ stop producing estrogen and progesterone, and they stop menstruating. In other terms, it marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Sleep problems are one of the most common symptoms that can affect you during menopause.
A study published in the journal Sleep Breathing Physiology and Disorders found that 51.6 percent of postmenopausal women enrolled in the experiment experienced sleep problems. While menopause may cause sleeplessness, it can lead to problems if left ignored. Dr Hira Mardi, Consultant of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at Manipal Hospital, says, “Menopausal symptoms do disrupt sleep in many women, and you need to follow certain strategies to manage these symptoms.”
Here are some steps to help you manage menopausal symptoms and promote better sleep as suggested by Dr Mardi:
It is important to create a sleep schedule and follow it to avoid problems. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. A consistent sleep schedule helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes good sleep.
You can’t expect to have a sound sleep if you have the TV running in the background or lights on. You need to organise your space or create a cold, dark, and quiet bedroom that helps promote sound sleep. To reduce noise, use earplugs, blackout curtains, or a white noise machine. Consider investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support your body and provide relief from night sweats, advises the expert.
Engaging in relaxation techniques before bedtime can help calm your mind and body. You can try techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and more. Tai chi, meditation, and yoga have been proven to help relieve stress and promote sleep, as per John Hopkins Medicine.
Menopause can be a stressful time for women, and too much stress can also cause sleepless night. Even studies have found a link between elevated stress levels and sleep problems like insomnia. A study published in Elsevier found that stress and sleep both affect each other. Too much stress can cause sleepless nights and sleeplessness can lead to stress. So, it is crucial to manage stress by practicing yoga, engaging in hobbies, spending time in nature, or seeking support.
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Engaging in regular physical activity can help alleviate menopausal symptoms and improve sleep. “Practice a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Avoid any vigorous exercise close to bedtime, as it can stimulate your body and make it harder to fall asleep,” adds the expert.
Certain foods and drinks such as caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol, can trigger hot flashes and disrupt sleep. Observe how your body reacts to various meals and modify your diet accordingly. Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support overall health and well-being.
HRT involves taking medications that contain hormones (estrogen and progesterone) to supplement the body’s declining hormone levels during menopause. It can be an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep disturbances, explains Dr Mardi.
CBT-I is a structured, evidence-based therapy that targets the underlying factors contributing to insomnia. It is typically conducted by a trained therapist, and it focuses on addressing the behavioral and psychological factors contributing to sleep difficulties. It can be an effective long-term solution for managing menopausal sleep disturbances, particularly helpful for women experiencing sleep difficulties during menopause, explains the expert. This therapy includes sleep hygiene education, sleep restriction, stimulus control, relaxation techniques, and cognitive restructuring, explains the gynecologist.
Symptoms of menopause may be different for every woman and what works for one person may not work for another. It is essential to listen to your body, be patient, and try different ways to manage the symptoms. You can talk to your loved ones or seek professional help as well.