Menopause can cause a host of symptoms for women, some of which may begin earlier than others. Early signs that you’re approaching menopause may include hot flashes and irregular periods. Your periods may become lighter or heavier than before. Night sweats are also common, and may be so severe that they interfere with sleep. You may be moody or forgetful and you may have less of a sex drive. Today we’re going to examine one particularly troubling symptom of menopause: insomnia.
What causes menopause insomnia?
In a nutshell, hormones are the culprit. During the menopausal years, your ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone than before. As levels of these hormones decline, menopause symptoms increase. Insomnia is one such symptom, which in turn can intensify other menopausal symptoms. Sleep deprivation makes us anxious, stressed, and irritated. We also find it hard to focus. Productivity flies out the window. Silly accidents happen when we’re walking through a sleep-deprived fog. So do headaches.
So what can you do?
Treating menopause insomnia
Create a restorative sleep routine
We are creatures of habit. We can support healthy sleep habits by creating rituals around our sleeping hours. Maybe you enjoy taking a bubble bath with lavender essential oil before getting into bed to read. Perhaps you like to write and reflect in a journal before turning out the lights. Get creative. Make these sleep routines uniquely yours. Having a regular routine will help cue your body that it’s time to relax.
Stick to a regular schedule
Your circadian rhythms like regularity. Insomnia doesn’t. Stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible to help prevent insomnia and other sleep issues. That means going to bed and getting up around the same time every day, even on weekends.
Set up your bedroom for ideal sleep
Your bedroom is your sanctuary. As such, you’ll want to make it an environment that’s conducive to sleep. Remove all electronics, which emit stimulating blue light. Invest in some high-quality linens, and set the temperature to somewhere around 65 degrees F. Cover all blinking lights and get some blackout curtains if necessary to make your room as dark and still as possible. A soothing white noise machine may also be helpful.
Enjoy your last meal of the day at a reasonable hour
Late dinners can be romantic, but they don’t do much for your sleep. Your body needs a few hours to digest food before bedtime. When it doesn’t get the chance to do so, heartburn and acid reflux are more likely to keep you up at night. Finish drinking liquids at least an hour before bedtime to avoid midnight bathroom trips.
Minimize smoking and drinking
Women who smoke regularly during menopause experience more severe sleep issues than those who don’t. The same goes for alcohol. Cigarettes stimulate the system, while alcohol prevents really deep sleep. Also avoid drinking any caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon or evening, as the effects of caffeine can last 4 to 6 hours.
Try some relaxation techniques
If you don’t already have a relaxation practice in your routine, it’s time to get one. Anything that reduces stress and helps you calm down before bedtime is a must for menopause insomnia. Try some gentle yoga, deep breathing exercises, or a relaxing guided meditation.
Insomnia can wreak havoc in your life. Seek treatment if your insomnia becomes severe enough to interfere with your quality of life. At OB/GYN Associates of Alabama, we can help you understand menopause and the range of treatment options available. Contact us to request an appointment.