Top 9 Menopause Insomnia Treatments to Relieve Stress & Anxiety
It’s bad enough that you are not feeling good, dealing with mood swings, and getting hot flashes over and over again – but now menopause is making it hard for you to sleep. And you are understandably frustrated.
If this is you, you’re definitely not alone. Over half of menopausal women report that they deal with some level of insomnia. And I want to help.
First we are going to dive into the reasons menopause could be giving you sleeping troubles. There are actually many, many factors joining together to make it harder to both fall and stay asleep.
Then we are going to finish up with all the action steps you can take to help you get back to restful nights and energized days.
Menopause Insomnia Culprit #1: Hormone Changes
Oh hormones! They made our lives difficult in our teen years and now they are messing with us again.
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Now that your estrogen and progesterone are decreasing, so is your sleep quality. They’re directly connected. Plus, your hormone changes can bring about some of the following side effects that also affect your sleep.
Menopause Insomnia Culprit #2: Hot Flashes
Thanks to the changing levels of estrogen, 75% to 85% of menopausal women experience hot flashes due to adrenaline surges. To understand hot flashes: picture being in a sauna without actually being in a sauna.
These episodes tend to last around 3 minutes. But since they often hit at night, they can greatly affect the quality of your sleep. Hot flashes can wake you up, and then leave you uncomfortable and sweaty – two things that make it difficult to fall back to sleep.
Not to mention – your adrenaline just shot up. It’s like trying to fall asleep after being startled.
Most women can expect their hot flashes to stop coming in about a year – though ¼ of women experience them for up to five years.
Menopause Insomnia Culprit #3: Stress/Anxiety
Every person deals with stress. But when it becomes too much of an issue, your sleep can greatly suffer.
Menopausal women are at an age where they maybe stressed about retirement, ailing parents, adult children, age-related health problems – and often the menopause itself.
And there’s and catch-22 that often comes with insomnia: not sleeping stresses you out, so you have an even harder time sleeping.
Menopause Insomnia Culprit #4: Depression or Mood Changes
Those mood swings have you feeling like you are 15 again (but with some extra wrinkles and bills to pay). In the same way that your changing hormones affected your mood when you were a teen, they also affect your mood during menopause.
Around 1 in 5 women will experience depression during menopause.
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If you are struggling with depression or frustrating mood swings, it is best to speak with your doctor and/or a therapist. You deserve a happy, full life and these professionals have tools for you to make that happen.
Menopause Insomnia Culprit #5: Snoring
Your nose may be to blame too. Snoring is not only more common in post-menopausal women, but it is also more severe. This can lead to interrupted, less-than-restful sleep.
Menopause Insomnia Culprit#6: Melatonin
Melatonin is the brain hormone that monitors our sleep and wake cycles. It is affected by light – which is why we get sleepy at night and alert during the day.
As we age, our melatonin levels begin to drop off. This happens for men just as much as it does for women. So menopause may not be the cause of this factor, but the timing just coincides.
9 Menopause Insomnia Treatments
Now how do we fix this?
First I want you to consider three different types of medical treatments.
The first is most controversial (so it may not be right for you), the second will need to be discussed in detail with your doctor, and the third is all-natural – so you should give it a shot.
Then I will go into some general ideas to help you get to sleep, stay asleep, and feel more comfortable during the night.
1. Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy
We’re going to start with a controversial remedy: hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Replacing your hormones sounds like it makes perfect sense. After all, your hormone levels are dropping off – wouldn’t adding more help you feel better?
Studies have shown that too much HRT can lead to serious medical conditions like dementia and cardiovascular disease.
If you are going on HRT with the help of your doctor, you must have the lowest effective dose and you can only stay on them for very short periods.
So though this might be an option for you, you may want to consider some safer alternatives. Talk to your doctor and do your own research before you choose HRT.
2. Consider Other Medical Alternatives
Outside of HRT, some doctors will prescribe other types of medications to help menopause and menopausal insomnia. This includes:
- Antidepressants (for depression, but also for help with hot flashes)
- Anti-anxiety medications like Prozac
- Gabapentin (an anti-seizure drug)
- Clonidine (a blood pressure medication)
- Brisdelle/Duavee (hot flash medications)
All of these have been shown to be effective in helping the symptoms of menopause. But it is imperative that your doctor has your whole medical history to ensure these are safe options for you. And, as always, do your own research first.
Your doctor may also suggest prescription sleep aids. These can have negative side effects and potentially lead to dependency. So ask plenty of questions before you begin.
3. Consider All-Natural Sleep Aids
If all these medications worry you – or if you want an extra natural sleep boost – you should try an herbal sleep aid. There are many vitamins, minerals, and herbs that show great success in helping people sleep better, including:
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin D
- Valerian Root
- Passion Flower Extract
- Magnolia Bark Extract
- Chamomile Flower Extract
Since these are non-habit forming ingredients, it may be a good idea to try the all-natural option before diving into the world of prescription medications.
4. Take Some Melatonin
On top of great herbal sleep remedies, you will want to try a melatonin supplements to make up for your body’s age-related drop in the sleep hormone.
If you are interested in combining melatonin with some of the natural sleep supplements listed above, Eu Natural’s Serenity Natural Sleep Aid combines them into one pill to take before bedtime.
5. Say Bye-Bye Guilty Pleasures: Smoking, Drinking, And Coffee
I know, our guilty pleasures are just that – pleasing. But you know what’s even more pleasing? A good night’s sleep. Here are three activities you need to give up while you are struggling with menopausal insomnia:
- Smoking: If all the ways smoking harms your body is not convincing enough, maybe your lack of sleep will lead you to quit. Smoking is actually directly connected to insomnia – especially nighttime smoking.
- Drinking: A glass of wine may make you feel happily sleepy right after you drink, but it can actually wake you back up in a couple of hours. Plus, alcohol can make hot flashes worse. It is often best to avoid or greatly reduce any alcohol consumption for some time.
- Coffee: Caffeine can stay in your body for 8 hours. If you are an all-day drinker, wean yourself off your afternoon and evening cups of coffee first. Then when your body adjusts, start reducing your morning consumption too. Though it will feel counterintuitive at first (because you are so tired), eliminating it entirely may be your best bet.
6. Cope With Stress and Anxiety
So what’s a woman to do with all this (understandable) stress? You must find some coping mechanisms that work for you in order to lessen the effects of all the anxiety and allow you to sleep comfortably.
Different things work for different people. Here are some ideas to try:
- Talk to a therapist
- Get a monthly/weekly massage
- Be intentional about regular moderate exercise
- Go to a yoga class
- Start a meditation/prayer routine
- Try all-natural supplements like ashwagandha to lower your stress
- Make acupuncture appointments
7. Sleep Cool to Soothe Hot Flashes
Since hot flashes are one of the main culprits of sleep troubles during menopause, you will want to try to keep yourself cool as much as possible at night. This includes activities like:
- Keeping the air conditioner set around 68 degrees
- Installing an fan above your bed
- Putting an extra oscillating fan near your side of the bed
- Wearing loose, lightweight pajamas without too much extra material
- Placing a second set of clean pajamas near your bed in case you wake up in a sweat-drenched hot flash
- Removing any heavy blankets and sleeping with a cotton sheet or light blanket
- Keeping a glass of water by your bedside table
- Placing a small ice bucket near your bed with one or two washcloths inside for quick cool downs
8. Get Your Body Moving
Keeping an exercise regimen during your mid-life years can help virtually any health problem you may encounter – including hormone imbalance, hot flashes, and insomnia.
Here are some moderate exercise ideas:
- Trail hiking
- Yoga classes
- Ballroom dancing
Make sure your exercise is done in the morning or afternoon (early evening is the latest). You do not want to be amped up before bed.
9. Practice Sleep Hygiene
There are some general sleep hygiene tips that should be followed carefully if you are struggling with insomnia during menopause.
- Make sure you do not eat anything right before you sleep
- Make a bedtime and stick to it. It can be tempting to adjust your sleep on the weekends or to have a flexible schedule if you are now retired. But a schedule is key for restful sleep.
- Always use the bathroom before you fall asleep
- Keep your room completely dark
- Remove all electronics from your bedroom
- Use a sound machine to drown out any noises that may interrupt you
- Don’t let yourself toss and turn in bed for more than 20 or 30 minutes. Get out of bed and try a calm activity like meditating, coloring in an adult coloring book, journaling, or crocheting. Don’t watch a suspenseful movie or read a fascinating book.
Sleeping Well During Menopause
Take all the steps listed above to find which methods work best for you.
Make an appointment with your doctor to go over any medical options that may be of service.
You may even want to participate in some sleep studies to rule out larger issues like sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
Struggling with your sleep during menopause may be your reality today, but it does not have to be your reality forever.