Menopause and Insomnia – How Menopause and Insomnia Are Related?

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

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a type of sleeping disorder where a person does not get enough sleep during the night and wakes up exhausted. This could be because she takes hours to fall asleep initially, or wakes up several times and has difficulty falling back to sleep. It could also be because she wakes up very early before it is time to get out of bed and fails to go back to sleep. In each instance, she finds it difficult to either fall asleep or get back to sleep once she awakes. Insomnia can be categorized as primary or secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is when a person has sleeping problems that are not linked to any health problem. Secondary insomnia is usually linked to some health problem or caused by a substance (like alcohol) or medication that a person is taking. Insomnia can also be defined based on how long a person suffers from it. It can either be chronic or acute insomnia.

What is the Link Between Insomnia and Menopause?

A woman who has been sleeping soundly all her life may suddenly discover that she has sleeping problems during menopause. Although her body is exhausted at the end of the day, she finds it difficult to fall asleep. And when she wakes up to use the loo at night, she tosses and turns for hours before finally falling asleep. Insomnia during menopause can be triggered by night sweats. A woman may also find that insomnia contributes to the severity of some menopausal symptoms that she may already be experiencing. For example, she may find that she is more fatigued than usual as a result of less sleep and that she is highly irritable and her mood is unpredictable.

Menopausal Insomnia Symptoms

A woman who suffers from insomnia is likely to stay awake for hours before falling asleep initially. She may also finds that she falls asleep for short periods of time and then awakes. Falling asleep again between these short bursts of sleep may take a long time. She may also find that she is awake for most of the night, only able to fall asleep towards sunrise. If she does manage to fall asleep, she may be up and alert by 3am and unable to fall asleep again. In the morning when the rest of the family awakes, she will feel so tired as if she has not slept at all.

Is Insomnia a Common Symptom Of Menopause?

Insomnia is a relatively common symptom of menopause. Research studies indicate that up to 70% of menopausal women experience this symptom of menopause. This lack of sleep makes it difficult for them to function optimally during the day, and can lead to hypersomnia – a condition where they fall asleep at inopportune times during the day.

Menopausal Insomnia Causes

There are several conditions that can trigger insomnia during menopause. Night sweats that awaken you from sleep will usually require you to first recover from the heart palpitations. Then you will likely have to change your night clothes and bedding as they will be soaked in sweat. It will be difficult to fall back to sleep by the time you settle down to sleep again. A highly stressed life can also cause insomnia. If you are worried or anxious about something, then your thoughts will be racing back and forth, and this will make it difficult to fall asleep. You may be woken up by health issues like pain, difficulty breathing or thyroid problems. Use of certain substances like alcohol and caffeine, and some types of medications, can also cause menopausal insomnia.

Sleep Disturbances and Hormone Changes

Changes in the production of estrogen and progesterone can also cause insomnia. This is because if the production of these hormones fluctuates or changes drastically from the norm, then this will affect a woman’s sleep/wake cycle. In effect, she may find that she is wide awake during the night and very sleepy during the day.

Risks of Menopausal Insomnia

Women who smoke and are heavy drinkers are at a higher risk of suffering from menopausal insomnia. Certain types of foods (e.g. spicy foods) can also act as stimulants that cause disturbances in sleep patterns. Furthermore, a woman who does not exercise places herself at greater risk of insomnia.

Ways to Treat* Menopause Insomnia

There are a variety of lifestyle changes you can make in order to treat* your menopausal insomnia. If you cut out from your diet foods and substances that act as stimulants, then you may greatly improve* your sleep patterns. These include caffeine, chocolate, alcohol and nicotine. You can also keep your bedroom cool and wear comfortable night clothes. You should also consider eating smaller meals in the evening, at least two hours before bed. Also, include a regular outdoor exercise program.

Treatment For Menopause Insomnia

Some women prefer to use medications to manage insomnia during menopause. They can consider using sleeping pills for a short period of time. If the insomnia is triggered by menopause symptoms, then they can also get medications like hormone replacement therapy to treat* these symptoms.

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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.