Sleep issues are all too common, with sleep disorders affecting 39 to 47 per cent of perimenopausal women and 35 to 60 per cent of postmenopausal women.
Our sleep-wake cycle changes as we age and loses its consistency.
We begin to feel tired earlier and wake up earlier in the morning, leading to less sleep overall.
Sleep quality and quantity are affected by the endocrine changes during the peri-menopause to menopause transition.
Let’s look at 6 reasons Menopause affects our sleep.
Number One – Declining hormones
Those Estrogen Receptors AGAIN
Estrogen plays a role in the metabolism of Serotonin and other neurotransmitters that affect our sleep-wake cycle.
Also Estrogen helps keep our body temperature low at night and is more conducive to restful sleep.
Estrogen also has an antidepressant effect.
Progesterone has a sedative effect, so our sleep becomes disrupted as levels drop.
If you have ever taken the mini pill, you are usually told to take it in the evening because of this sedative effect.
As well as Estrogen, there are other players in the delicate balance needed for good sleep.
So even for those who are not perimenopausal but still have issues with getting good sleep, being mindful of these other factors can be really helpful.
Cortisol & Melatonin – these work together with our circadian rhythm.
Cortisol spikes in the early hours to help you wake up and reduces during the day.
Melatonin is released in the hours before you go to bed to prepare you for sleep.
So, too much stress, and in return, too much cortisol, can throw this partnership out of whack.
Number Three-Night Sweats
As said previously, Estrogen also helps keep our body temperature low at night and is more conducive to restful sleep.
With less Estrogen, women may experience higher body temperatures, lower quality sleep, and poorer mood.
This drop in Estrogen throws off your body’s “thermostat” — a gland called the hypothalamus at the base of your brain that regulates your internal temperature.
Lower Estrogen levels signal to the hypothalamus that you’re too hot. In response, your brain sends a message to your body to cool you off.
It’s not unusual to need to change nightwear and/or bedding in the middle of the night.
Number Four-Mental stimulation
Not just true for perimenopausal & menopausal women, sleep issues caused by constant scrolling social media and blue light from our devices affect all ages
Bingeing on the latest Netflix series (let’s face it, we have ALL done it); our latest has been FUBAR with Arnie.
This means we spend time on things other than winding down and switching off our brains.
Number Five-Aches and Pains
A high cortisol level at night inhibits the release of human growth hormone to repair the body’s tissues. This process typically occurs while we sleep.
As our hormones are anti-inflammatory, we are more likely to have inflamed joints which can lead to disturbed sleep.
Another issue could be Restless legs, which is totally a thing, by the way, and really annoying!
I get it if a) I’m over-tired or b) I wake after only a couple of hours of sleep.
I resolve it by elevating my legs, like putting them up a wall, for 2-3 minutes.
Eating chocolate, sugar, refined grains, or drinking caffeine during the day and into the evening can have a stimulative effect that goes well into the night.
For some people, artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives can disturb sleep.
In addition, experts recommend that you also avoid the following foods, particularly in the evenings and/or right before bed.
- Alcohol – Ironically, alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns and make for poor sleep quality. Its diuretic effect (particularly beer) can also disrupt sleep.
- Excessively salty foods – As the kidneys work to rid your body of the excess salt, you will probably get up to go to the bathroom at night.
- Tea, coffee, or cola – The caffeine these drinks contain is not only a stimulant to your nervous system; it’s also been said to stimulate the kidneys.
- Spicy and/or greasy, fried foods – These may cause heartburn.
What to do?
If sleep is a problem for you, there are some easy solutions.
Develop a sleep routine, which should include the following-
- Switching off from social media at least an hour before you retire, apart from anything else, the light our devices emit can be stimulating.
- Take a hot shower, or better still, soak in a bath with essential oils like lavender and some magnesium salts.
- Do some yoga stretching & meditation.
- Read, nothing makes me nod off faster than reading in bed.
- Make sure you don’t eat or drink stimulating food; hot milk does work, as it helps produce Serotonin.
Getting good quality sleep is vital to a healthy life; hopefully, you found something helpful in this post.
Check out The Low-down on Hot Flashes if night sweats are an issue.
For Menopause on the go listen to the Menopreneur Podcast HERE