Are you going through menopause and can’t sleep? As women approach the age of menopause, they experience major hormonal, physical and psychological changes in women, and this can even cause a disruption in their sleep patterns. For the unversed, menopause is the time when women’s bodies stop producing estrogen and progesterone, and they stop menstruating. In other words, it marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Sleep problems are one of the most common symptoms you may experience during menopause.
A study published in the journal Sleep Breathing Physiology and Disorders found that 51.6 percent of postmenopausal women who participated in the experiment experienced sleep problems. Although menopause can cause insomnia, it can lead to problems if ignored. Dr. Hira Mardi, obstetrics and gynecology consultant at Manipal Hospital, says: “Menopausal symptoms disrupt sleep in many women, and you need to follow certain strategies to manage these symptoms.”
Menopause leads to insomnia: how to deal with the symptoms?
Here are some steps to help you manage menopause symptoms and promote better sleep, as suggested by Dr. Mardi:
1. Maintain a sleep schedule
It is important to set a sleep schedule and follow it to avoid problems. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. A consistent sleep schedule helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes restful sleep.
2. Create a sleep-friendly environment
You can’t expect to sleep well if the TV is on in the background or the lights are on. You need to organize your space or create a cold, dark and quiet bedroom that promotes good sleep. Use earplugs, blackout curtains, or a white noise machine to reduce noise. Consider investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows that will support your body and provide relief from night sweats, the expert advises.
3. Practice relaxation techniques
Practicing relaxation techniques before bed can help calm your body and mind. You can try techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and more. Tai chi, meditation and yoga have been proven to help relieve stress and promote sleep, according to John Hopkins Medicine.
4. Manage stress
Menopause can be a stressful time for women, and too much stress can also cause a sleepless night. Even studies have found a link between increased stress levels and sleep problems such as insomnia. A study published in Elsevier shows that stress and sleep influence each other. Too much stress can cause sleepless nights and insomnia can lead to stress. So it is crucial to deal with stress by practicing yoga, pursuing hobbies, spending time in nature or seeking support.
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5. Exercise regularly
Getting regular exercise can help ease menopausal symptoms and improve sleep. “Exercise at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime as this can stimulate your body and make it harder to fall asleep,” the expert adds.
6. Watch your diet
Certain foods and drinks, such as caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol, can cause hot flashes and disrupt sleep. Observe how your body reacts to different meals and adjust your diet accordingly. Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can support overall health and well-being.
7. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
HRT involves taking medications containing hormones (estrogen and progesterone) to replenish the body’s declining hormone levels during menopause. It can be an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats and sleep disturbances, explains Dr. Mardi.
Also read: Menopause Management: Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Help?
8. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-1)
CBT-I is a structured, evidence-based therapy that focuses on the underlying factors that contribute to insomnia. It is typically performed by a trained therapist and focuses on addressing the behavioral and psychological factors that contribute to sleep problems. It can be an effective long-term solution for managing menopausal sleep disorders, especially useful for women who experience sleep problems during menopause, the expert explains. This therapy includes education about sleep hygiene, sleep restriction, stimulus control, relaxation techniques and cognitive restructuring, the gynecologist explains.
Symptoms of menopause can be different for every woman and what works for one person may not work for another. It is essential to listen to your body, be patient and try different ways to manage symptoms. You can talk to your loved ones or seek professional help.