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The Apparent Link Between Menopause and Insomnia

As many women can probably tell you, menopause and insomnia go hand in hand. You're most likely aware of the major physical and mental changes that a woman undergoes during menopause, and these changes can spell disaster to sleeping patterns, causing many women to experience insomnia during menopause.


They key to better sleep during the big change is understanding the effects menopause has on the body and mind, and how these factors contribute to insomnia during menopause. For starters, you need to know that menopause doesn't happen all at once. In fact, there are three separate stages: perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause, and you might experience sleeping problems during any of these stages.

Periomenopause often begins when a woman is in her late 30's or early 40's, several years before she actually enters menopause, and often there are no noticeable changes. So even if you're not yet experiencing menopause, you might be entering this transitional phase that could be affecting your sleep. In fact, this phase sometimes lasts for as long as ten years.

Some of the major effects of menopause that have been known to contribute to insomnia are:

  • Hot Flashes

menopause and insomniaOne of the biggest complaints most women have during menopause is hot flashes, which are actually rushes of adrenaline that cause the body and mind to suddenly become alert while also raising body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. 

No matter when they happen, they can be incredibly uncomfortable, but they can wreak havoc on your sleep when they happen during the middle of the night. They'll wake you straight up, leaving you hot, sweaty, and often wide awake for an hour or more before your body finally calms down again.

  • Depression and Mood Swings

The various hormonal changes a woman's body undergoes during menopause often result in anxiety, mood swings, or depression. As high as twenty percent of women experience depression as a result of menopause, specifically lowered levels of estrogen. 

However, these things could also be a result on any number of other mental or social factors as well. These problems, especially anxiety and depression, often contribute to insomnia, but luckily these mental issues can usually be dealt with in some way or another. 

  • Other Health Issues

There are a variety of other common health problems due to menopause that can lead to insomnia as well. Some women begin experiencing sleep apnea due to weight gain that often accompanies menopause. 

Other issues that could be affecting your sleep include thyroid problems, hypertension or high blood pressure, headaches, breathing difficulties, and random aches and pains, all of which are quite common during all three stages of menopause.

  • Unrelated Social Issues

It just so happens that menopause occurs during a very transitional phase in most women's lives. Often they also have to deal with such issues as children moving out or getting married, having grandchildren, moving into a smaller house or even a different town, and any number of other things. 

menopause and insomniaAll of these things are stressful and cause extra anxiety and worry, so it is possible that in your case, menopause and insomnia might not be directly related.  In fact, your insomnia could be completely independent from menopause

In this case you'll need to try to determine the other factors causing it and work towards finding a solution to these problems. It could be anything from diet, alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine, to simply having poor sleeping habits or bad sleep hygiene.

Successfully Battling Insomnia During Menopause

If you are experiencing insomnia that you think is directly related to your menopause, about the only thing you can do is try to battle these symptoms and problems directly. For instance, if nightly hot flashes are the problem, you should focus on keeping your bedroom cool and trying as much as possible to regulate your body temperature. 

Wearing light clothing and keeping the window open should also help, and there are also a number of pillows designed to help keep you cool. You might also want to consider sleeping with a pillow between your knees, as this will also help keep your body temperature lower. 

Finally, you can also prepare for any hot flashes by keeping a cool rag or ice pack by the bed and putting it on your head, face, neck, and chest when you feel one coming on, making sure to breath slowly and evenly. This should keep the hot flash from becoming too severe and keeping you awake for hours.

menopause and insomniaStill, sometimes the symptoms of menopause are so severe that a woman needs to seek medical help. There are many different supplements that can help minimize the effects of menopause, such as black cohosh and flaxseed oil

In extreme cases, some women even need to undergo hormone replacement therapy when their menopause symptoms are severe or uncontrollable and interfere with their ability to sleep or live their life normally.

Alternatively, you could try other, more natural treatment options such as acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, or progressive relaxation. All of these methods are completely safe and have been proven to be effective not only in treating insomnia, but also at minimizing the effects menopause has on a woman's body.

Overall, the combination of menopause and insomnia can be one of the most frustrating and mentally and physically draining things you'll ever have to deal with, and can lead to more serious health problems if not properly taken care of. 

 

You shouldn't just accept your sleeping problems as a part of growing older and changing. Instead you should try to understand where your sleeping difficulties come from so that you can attempt to resolve these issues and get the rest you need.

 


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