Menopause and Sleep Problem: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Menopause and Sleep
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Sleep Disorders

Failing to fall asleep during the night, or waking up in the middle of the night and failing to go back to sleep, are normal occurrences in life. These are usually linked to higher stress levels or other imbalances in the body. If, however, these sleep problems occur regularly over a period of time, then it could be an indication of a sleep disorder. The two sleep disorders mentioned above are linked to insomnia. However, there are a variety of other sleep disorders that can affect the quality of sleep.

What is The Connection Between Sleep and Menopause?

There have been very few research studies that have focused specifically on the link between menopause and sleep. This is because most doctors and researchers assume that sleep disorders during menopause are directly linked to night sweats. However, Dr Rebecca Booth reports in the Huffington Post that insomnia is second only to hot flashes as the most common menopause symptom experienced by her patients, most of whom are willing to take any medication that will help them sleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

Although the symptoms of sleep disorders are similar, the type and causal factor of the disorders may be vastly different. If you are excessively sleepy during the day such that you fall asleep at inappropriate times, it could be an indication of a sleep disorder. However, this could also indicate that you have not had an adequate night’s sleep. Hence, it is important to keep a tab on the number of hours of sleep when you fall asleep in meetings, while driving, when talking to someone, while working, etc. This symptom is also known as hypersomnia.

Another symptom of sleep disorders is severe snoring, usually coupled with breathing pauses. This could indicate that a person has sleep apnea. There could also be leg movements that are uncontrolled, which could indicate that a person has restless legs syndrome. Another symptom of failing to get a good night’s sleep is mood swings, where a woman is highly irritable and unable to control her mood because she is sleepy and fatigued. Morning headaches that occur on a regular basis may also be an indication of sleep disorders.

Causes of Sleep Disorders

There are various factors that can cause sleep disorders. If the sleep problems are over a short period of time, then they are likely caused by a highly stressful situation, illness, extreme temperatures or noise. Anxiety and depression can also lead to sleep disorders if left untreated. If a person uses alcohol excessively, or has a high caffeine intake, it can also cause problems with sleep. There are certain medical conditions, e.g. asthma, which can also lead to sleeping problems because they interfere with regular breathing.

Important Things to know About Menopause and Sleep

A Wisconsin research study reports that up to 50% of menopausal women experience sleep disorders as a menopause symptom. In some cases this is linked to hot flashes, but in other cases it is linked to difficulties in breathing while asleep, or other symptoms discussed earlier. In order to avoid fatigue – which will likely result from lack of sleep – a woman should consider getting treatment for her sleeping disorder?

How Does Sleep Change During the Menopause?

During menopause, the main sleep change that occurs is that a woman finds it difficult to fall asleep at night. Her body may be physically tired, but her mind is alert. If she wakes up during the night, she may also find it difficult to go back to sleep, often spending hours in bed wide awake.

Is Poor Sleep Effect to Hormonal Changes?

Poor sleep during menopause is linked to hormonal changes. It is believed that progesterone aids with drowsiness and regulates breathing during sleep. Therefore, lower levels of this hormone during menopause can lead to insomnia and sleep apnea. Estrogen helps to regulate deep sleep and also regulate body temperature. Therefore lower levels of estrogen lead to a lower quality sleep and hot flashes or night sweats.

Risk Factors for Sleep Disorders

There are several conditions that increase* the risk of sleep disorders. If a woman is overweight, then she is more likely to suffer from a sleep disorder. If she is a heavy smoker, she also places herself at greater risk of this condition. Other risk factors for sleep disorders include high blood pressure, menopause, diabetes or a heavy drinker.

Tips For a Good Night of Sleep

A lifestyle change that includes a regular exercise program is usually effective. This should be accompanied by avoiding caffeine and alcohol, eating at least 2 hours before bed time, avoiding highly stimulating entertainment (books or movies) before bed, setting a bedtime routine and timetable, and sleeping in comfortable clothes and in a comfortable room (in terms of the bed, temperature and bedding).

Can alternative Treatments Treat* to Menopause and Sleep Disorders?

Although HRT is the most common treatment prescribed by doctors, there are alternative treatments that can lessen the symptoms and increase* the quality and quantity of sleep time. Herbal supplements like black cohosh and Macafem have been shown to significantly improve* sleep patterns for menopausal women suffering from sleep disorders.

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Author

Expert Author : Lisiana Carter (Consumer Health Digest)

Lisiana Carter has been a freelance health writer for over ten years having written books, blogs and articles. She is the author of a number of websites and teaches people how to enter the freelance writing field.