Is Menopause Affecting your Sleep? - Ellen Dolgen

Is Menopause Affecting your Sleep?

When I was a little girl, I used to envy princesses like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty for their charm, beautiful voices, and ability to communicate with animals. When I entered perimenopause, I started to envy them for a different reason — those brats had no trouble sleeping! All Snow White had to do to sleep for hours was bite an apple! How dare Sleeping Beauty complain about being “doomed” to slumber for 100 years! I would have taken my chances on a wicked witch if it meant I’d actually be able to get a good night’s rest.

Before entering perimenopause, I was a very busy, multitasking person who worked hard in the daytime and slept hard at night. All of a sudden, in my forties, not only was I having trouble sleeping, but multitasking became more difficult because my focus and memory kept failing me. I felt like I was going crazy (my kids probably wouldn’t have blinked if I had actually started talking to animals). My insomnia was getting the best of my mental clarity.

Perimenopause is the wicked witch that is causing this sudden change in your sleep. When our ovaries gradually decrease the production of the hormones, these decreasing hormones contribute to sleep issues. There are two hormones that are the main protagonists:  progesterone and estrogen.

Progesterone (also known as the sleep hormone) levels drop when you enter perimenopause, making your body chemically less capable of sleeping well.

Estrogen levels decline during perimenopause.  This decline may cause hot flashes and night sweats.  Oh, joy!  Hot flashes affect 75 to 85 percent of women around menopause. Hot flashes typically occur for around seven years but can continue for over ten years. Even if you fall back to sleep after being drenched in sweat, your sleep quality is impacted.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), experiencing inadequate sleep may affect how you feel and how you function. You may begin to experience drowsiness, irritability, reduced alertness, poor motor skills, and attention problems. As if that is not enough, inadequate sleep can cause weight gain. Sound familiar??

I am sorry to report that these issues left unattended to can continue throughout perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.  According to the Sleep Foundation, as many as 61 percent of postmenopausal women report insomnia symptoms. Oy!

Looking for a happy ending??

  1. Have an open conversation with your menopause specialist. Be sure to bring your filled-out Menopause Symptoms Chart with you to your appointment.  This chart will help you communicate quickly and accurately exactly “how you feel.”
  2.  Hormone therapy is an option.  Bioidentical FDA-approved HT definitely saved my life and eliminated my insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, and brain fog that was changing the quality of my life.   
  3. Increase your physical activity. Change up your exercise. Simply walking with your lover, friend, or co-worker for 30 -45 minutes 4x a week can impact your sleep. All exercise, ranging from housework to running marathons, has been found to impact menopausal symptoms positively!
  4. Stress is another big influence on disrupted sleep patterns. As we can all recall from puberty, hormone changes can take a substantial toll on the body, and estrogen affects the stress hormone cortisol. When estrogen is low, cortisol levels rise, raising blood pressure. Relaxation is important for sleep, but relaxing sometimes seems impossible with higher blood pressure and never-ending mind racing. (Where is that wicked witch?!) Try meditation and breathing exercises to help calm and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
  5. Create a healthy sleep environment.  Do not bring your iPhone to bed!!!  You might want to bring the temperature down a notch or two! According to the Sleep Foundation, “The best bedroom temperature for sleep is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius). This may vary by a few degrees from person to person, but most doctors recommend keeping the thermostat set between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) for the most comfortable sleep.”

I wish the remedy to all perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause symptoms were as easy as eating a spoiled apple. Rest assured, once you find the solutions that work best for your personal health needs, you can live happily ever after.

My motto:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN.

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* does not recommend, endorse, or make any representation about any tests, studies, practices, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, healthcare providers, physicians, or medical institutions that may be mentioned or referenced.


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