10 Tips for Sleeping Better During Menopause

There are so many frustrating symptoms associated with menopause: mood swings, fatigue, hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss … and insomnia.

It should come as no surprise that sleeping is a challenge when you’re going through a change of life.

Menopause makes us acutely aware of the fact that we are getting older, and that can cause a lot of uncertainty and emotional turmoil.

There are several key causes of insomnia during menopause:

  • That emotional upheaval I just mentioned can really take a toll. This is especially true if you have other problems. Any area of dissatisfaction can really be amplified by all those mood swings.
  • Hot flashes are very uncomfortable. It’s unpleasant trying to sleep when your bed feels more like a waterbed that’s sprung a leak! Take the worst fever you’ve ever had and then go through that same level of sweating night after night. Add periodic surges of adrenaline and you’ve got hot flashes. If they’re bad enough, they can wake you up even if you’re already asleep.
  • During menopause, both estrogen and progesterone take a nosedive. As these two hormones both help to induce and regulate sleep, reductions in their levels can result in difficulty falling and staying asleep. This may be true even if you aren’t experiencing hot flashes, mood swings, or upheaval in your social or professional life!

So if you have insomnia during menopause, what can you do about it? Follow these Top 10 Tips for Sleeping Better During Menopause.

1. You can try hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

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This isn’t actually a solution I would strongly suggest—in fact, I recommend you think really hard before you resort to it. HRT is recommended by a lot of doctors, and many women do end up doing it.  Research is mixed at this point as to whether HRT is ultimately helpful or harmful. Right now it seems that HRT does help to prevent some health conditions, but it may actually increase the chances of developing others.

Nonetheless, if you do think HRT would be a good fit for you, you will probably find that it reduces your insomnia.

Research is mixed at this point as to whether HRT is ultimately helpful or harmful.

2. You can try using some herbs for hormone balancing.

If you want to balance out your hormones but you don’t want to resort to HRT, you can try a natural alternative: herbs.

This is a gentler choice since it stimulates your body’s own natural production of progesterone and/or estrogen (depending on the herbs you take).

There are many different types of herbs which have clinical and anecdotal evidence back them up as effective choices for fighting insomnia and other menopause symptoms. Here are a few which you can consider:

  • Vitex
  • Black cohosh
  • Indian ginseng
  • Magnolia bark
  • Soy
  • Hawthorn
  • Motherwort
  • Sage leaf

You can purchase these supplements individually, or you can pick up a blend specially formulated for menopause. The blended formulas tend to be the most powerful ones, since the herbs all work together to produce the maximum effect. They are also a lot more cost-effective and easier to take!

3. You can fix problems in your life.

Unfortunately not all the difficulties which keep you awake at night during menopause can be cured with a tablet. If the changes you are going through are causing difficulties in your life (relationship problems, challenges at work, etc.), you may need to do the hard work of sorting out those problems to the best of your ability.

A lot of people realize when they hit middle age that they haven’t achieved everything they hoped to by that point. This can be a painful realization, so for some women, menopause may trigger a midlife crisis.

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This isn’t something to be avoided; problems you don’t face during the day will plague you during the night. It could be that reprioritizing your life is what you need to start sleeping better!

4. You can consider therapy.

If you cannot tackle the problems in your life on your own, it may be a good idea to seek some professional help. This may be a particularly wise choice if you are also dealing with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and rage.

5. You can do soothing activities to try and relax before bed.

If mood swings are keeping you up at night, try doing some relaxing activities to clear your mind before your head hits the pillow.

What can you do to chill yourself out? The answer is different for every person. Some people enjoy reading a book. For others, working on a puzzle might be a good idea. Still others relax by crafting or watching TV or taking a bath. Do what you can to take your mind off your troubles and relax your adrenals. Whatever you do, do not mull over the day’s problems. Once you let that start, it can be very hard to shut it off and let yourself drift off.

If mood swings are keeping you up at night, try doing some relaxing activities to clear your mind before your head hits the pillow.

6. You can improve your sleep hygiene and environment.

While poor sleep hygiene may not be the cause of your menopause-induced insomnia, it can certainly exacerbate the problem. Do what you can to make sure that your sleep hygiene and environment are conducive to a peaceful night of rest. Most people sleep best in total darkness. Try to eliminate loud or unexpected noises; white noise is a great way to screen out sudden objectionable sounds. If you prefer total silence (and total silence is an option), go with that.

Try to wake up each morning and go to bed each night at the same times. Your body works best if it has a reliable pattern of behavior to guide it. If you are constantly disrupting your sleep schedule, your body does not know when to be awake and when to be asleep.

7. Exercise more.

There are a lot of studies which demonstrate that getting regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep and help you to fall asleep faster.

Should you work out late at night or avoid it? On that, there is some disagreement. Some studies have indicated that working out late at night can disrupt sleep, while others have shown that working out late may have no significant impact on no sleep.

Should you work out late at night or avoid it?

So work out more regardless. If you are worried about late-night exercise keeping you up, then work out earlier in the day. If you do experiment with late-night workouts and find that they do not hinder your sleep, then keep doing them. They may help you to burn off some excess energy if you suffer from insomnia-related anxiety.

8. You can avoid eating or drinking before bed.

When you eat a large meal shortly before you head to bed, you give your digestive system too much to do when your body is supposed to be settling down. Make sure that you stick with smaller meals in the evening, and try not to eat within a couple hours of bedtime.

Also make sure you do not down a whole glass of liquid before bed. A nice hot cup of tea may sound soothing, but it may also send you running to the bathroom repeatedly. Naturally that will keep you awake.

Make sure that you stick with smaller meals in the evening, and try not to eat within a couple hours of bedtime.

9. You can steer clear of blue light.

Do you sleep with your computer or TV on in the same room? If so, you probably have gotten used to that ubiquitous blue glow—but that does not mean your body and brain have.  shows Research that exposure to blue light late at night can trick your body into thinking that it is still daytime. Melatonin production drops, and it is much harder to go to sleep.

So turn off your technology, or leave your devices in another room! Your body and brain will thank you. If you have a nightlight in your room, make sure that it is a warm color, not a cool color. Amber is a very good choice. Something blue-toned is the worst. What if you have a job which requires you to be up late at night working on a computer? You can actually download apps to adjust your monitor color at night, or you can wear amber-tinted glasses.

10. You can be patient.

If all else fails, remember this: This too will pass. Menopause is a temporary transition. It may be rough, and at times you may wonder if you will ever sleep well at night again, but you will! Eventually your body will settle into a new “normal,” and you will once again be able to get a full, restorative night of rest. In the meantime, stick with these suggestions and avoid sleeping pills (even OTC ones) as they will do more harm than good.

Read Next: 4 Ways Menopause Can Interfere With Your Sleep 

Sources:
https://www.aasmnet.org/JCSM/Articles/010312.pdf
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938498000493
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047226/