Menopause and Sleep: Strategies for More Restful Nights

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A good night’s sleep can be a rare commodity during (peri) menopause. Whether it’s difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep, or constant waking through the night, patterns of reduced sleep can leave women struggling at home and work. Not getting enough high-quality sleep can impact quality of life and can make it harder to deal with the other symptoms of menopause, like mood swings and brain fog.

Sleep in midlife women can be deeply challenged due to a multitude of biopsychosocial factors. Menopause-specific factors like vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats), decreasing estrogen, as well as more general factors like stress and poor sleep hygiene, each contribute to the poor sleep women experience going through menopause.

If you are struggling to get a better night’s sleep, know that you are not alone.

Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are extremely common, especially in women in (peri) menopause. A study carried out by Massimiliano de Zambotti, a sleep expert, and principal scientist for SRI International showed that having insomnia in menopause translates to greater than 40 minutes of less sleep a night on average, with almost 50% of the menopause insomnia sample studied having less than six hours of sleep per night.

Zambotti’s team also investigated and calculated the amount of wake time associated with each hot flash women have at night. This research highlighted that about 70% of physiological hot flashes were associated with awakenings, accounting for about a third of the total wake time at night. Striking results also indicated that for some women, hot flashes accounted for almost all their disturbed sleep.

Navigating Sleep Challenges:

While menopause-related sleep disturbances can be challenging, there are ways to help women manage and improve their sleep quality during this transition to get the rest they deserve:

  • Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate the body’s internal clock, promoting better sleep quality.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine late in the day, as they can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to insomnia.
  • Develop relaxing bedtime rituals- a bath, herbal tea, or a bit of reading to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.
  • Banish the blue light! (which might mean leaving your cell phone far away from the bed room)
  • Practice stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness meditation to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Keep the keep the bedroom temperature cool and sleep in clothing designed to help manage hot flashes and night sweats.

*If sleep disturbances persist and significantly impact daily functioning, consult a healthcare provider or sleep specialist for personalized guidance and treatment options.

March 2024