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menopause and sleep

Follow these tips if menopause is impacting your sleep quality (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

When it comes to the worst parts of menopause, many women rank insomnia right at the top of the list with hot flashes.  For many women the inability to sleep during this time is the worst aspect of the hormonal changes happening in their bodies because when you aren’t getting enough sleep everything else in your life is automatically harder.  Although there isn’t much in the way of scientific data the links insomnia and the hormonal shifts associated with menopause, the anecdotal evidence supports the belief that insomnia is just one of those things that women have to figure out how to manage during and for some, after menopause.

So, what is a menopausal woman who just needs a good night sleep to do?

Many think that sleep aides may be the answer.  Unfortunately, the types of drugs used to make the most commonly used sleeping pills, hypnotics, don’t produce the kind of healthy, restorative sleep those that take them need the most.  In addition, when these types of drugs are used over long periods of time, they can impact short term memory.  And as anyone who has ever had trouble sleeping knows, your memory is one of the first things to suffer when you are deprived of sleep.

Another option is hormone therapy.  Research has shown an improvement in most menopausal symptoms including related insomnia when hormone replacement therapy is used.  However, there are some low-level risks related to taking hormones.  This means that most women will need to balance the risks of taking the hormones against the problems caused by not being able to sleep.

If hormone replacement therapy is ineffective or not an available option, there are some other things menopausal women can do to try and get the sleep they need.  Here are some of the alternative approaches to overcoming menopausal insomnia.

Meditation

For some women, meditation can be very beneficial in managing the symptoms of sleep deprivation.  While meditating doesn’t necessarily cure the insomnia or may sleep come easier, it can provide some of the benefits of healthy sleep to the brain.

Melatonin Supplements

Melatonin is a chemical that your body and brain use to signify that it is time to go to sleep.  Melatonin is normally released with the onset of darkness and it kicks off other processes that ready your body for sleep.  Melatonin supplementation can be beneficial for some people with chronic insomnia.

Sleep Hygiene

For menopausal women suffering from chronic insomnia, sleep hygiene may be more important than ever.  Sleep hygiene encompasses all the things you do or don’t do that help you get the sleep you need.  To protect your sleep, you should avoid alcohol, eating, caffeine, and exercise in the hours leading up to bedtime.  Avoid any stimulating activities at bedtime and invest in loose-fitting comfortable pajamas.   Keep the tools necessary to manage temperature fluctuations like extra blankets or a small fan close at hand so that you can utilize them without having to get out of bed or wake up any more than you already are.