Menopause is often referred to as the silent secret of women’s aging. It’s a time when many women notice a sudden decrease in estrogen levels and experience discomfort from menopausal symptoms. For menopausal women who have difficulty getting a good night of sleep, menopause is an even bigger problem.
Menopause occurs on average at age 51, but some can experience menopause as early as their thirties, and others not until they reach the age of menopause. The menopausal transition refers to the time period when a woman’s body gradually makes less estrogen and begins producing more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Estrogen is responsible for menstruation and ovulation, and it also protects against bone loss by slowing the rate at which bone is broken down and reabsorbed by the body.
Mood swings and irritability, Mood swings and irritability, Insomnia. Insomnia. Hot flashes and night sweats, Hot flashes and night sweats, Irregular periods or spotting between periods (a sign of low estrogen levels), Irregular periods or spotting between periods (a sign of low estrogen levels), Dry vagina and more frequent vaginal infections. With menopause, many women find that they get fewer hours of sleep each night than they did when they were younger. The reason menopause can cause such a disruption in sleep is because it affects the quality and quantity of estrogen in a woman’s body, which has an effect on her circadian rhythms and menopause sleep problems.
Circadian rhythms are biological processes that run on a 24-hour cycle, which means they peak at certain times during the day or night. For example, cortisol levels peak first thing in the morning to help prepare us for the day ahead and drops before we go to bed – this is called our circadian rhythm. Menopause often causes disrupted sleep because menopausal women are more likely to experience symptoms at night, including hot flashes and night sweats, both of which cause frequent wakening or lighter sleep. As menopause progresses, the estrogen hormone becomes weaker and the body produces higher levels of FSH. When menopause is at its peak, the decrease in estrogen is so severe that the pituitary gland produces more FSH than normal to encourage menopausal women to ovulate.
There are several things menopausal women can do to improve their sleep quality during menopause. For menopausal women who experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, menopause sleep problems can be improved by: Reducing your caffeine intake – Caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you awake and affects the quality of menopause sleep. If possible, menopausal women should stop drinking caffeine by mid-afternoon. A side effect of menopause is that hot flashes can make menopausal women feel very thirsty, so drink plenty of fluids before bedtime to ensure you are well hydrated during menopause sleep. Reducing your alcohol intake – While alcohol may seem relaxing, it actually disturbs menopause sleep and reduces menopausal women’s REM sleep. REM sleep is important for menopausal women to get because it helps them feel fresh and energised for the day ahead, so menopause symptoms that keep menopausal women from getting a good night of sleep will only get worse if they continue drinking alcohol.
While menopause is a natural and unavoidable part of ageing, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats can be difficult to manage. Fortunately, menopause sleep problems caused by menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats can be relieved with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or antidepressants that raise estrogen levels in menopausal women. Bioidentical menopause hormone replacement therapy helps menopausal women adjust to menopause symptoms by replacing the estrogen and progesterone menopause has depleted. Menopausal women can use menopause products to avoid menopause symptoms before they start. For example, menopause relief supplements containing natural ingredients such as Black Cohosh and Red Clover reduce menopause symptoms that disrupt menopausal sleep, including hot flashes and night sweats. Treatments for menopause sleep problems vary according to menopause severity, menopause stage and menopause symptoms. If menopausal sleep problems last for longer than a few months, menopausal women should talk to their doctor about treatments available to them.
If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, book a consultation with our one of our Female Doctors by calling us on 07 5531 3205 or via our online booking portal.