How does menopause effect sleep?
Updated: Nov 18
At times, during my perimenopause years, my sleep was awful. I would dread going to bed. But over time I learned to manage my symptoms and now I usually get a good nights sleep. Here are some of the things I discovered.
Hormonal changes are often responsible for the poor sleep many women experience during menopause.
Estrogen loss causes the body to be more sensitive to temperature changes. It is also involved in the metabolism of the sleep hormone, melatonin. As a result, the lowering levels can also impact the sleep- wake cycle. In addition, a sudden drop in estrogen can prompt the body to flood with stress hormones causing a hot flush.
Lower progesterone levels also have an impact: As a hormone, progesterone helps induce sleep and its loss makes it harder to both get to sleep and stay asleep.
What can help
Healthy gut bacteria can help aid sleep. So add a probiotic food such as kefir, natural unsweetened yoghurt and fermented food to your diet.
Add Soy products such as tofu, soybeans, and soymilk, which contain a plant hormone similar to estrogen. Research show they can lessen hot flushes.
Avoid sugary and carb heavy food late in the evening. In fact, avoid large meals late in the evening.
Avoid caffeine after lunch. Caffeine has a long half-life. Six hours after a caffeinated drink, half the caffeine from it will still be in the body.
Magnesium can help with sleep. Magnesium rich foods include almonds, brazil nuts, brown rice, and dark green vegetables.
Be aware of the impact that alcohol has on sleep. It can trigger hot flashes but in addition after the immediate effects have worn off, it can leave you wide awake.
Stay cool at night
Hot flushes during the night can wake you up and leave you feeling anxious and unable to sleep.
Wear breathable fabrics at night such as cotton. Have a spare t-shirt next to the bed in case you need to change. Get a lighter duvet and use cotton sheets. Keep a glass of water next to the bed.
But what if you wake up
Try to avoid doing things that can wake you up further. Keep the lights off and don’t scroll through your phone.
I find listening to a sleep story through my sleep headphones really helps. Even if I can’t sleep, I’m resting.
But don’t lie there worrying. If you can’t get back to sleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, get a drink or read for a little while then go back to bed.
Other bits and pieces
I’ve found doing some gentle yoga, a guided relaxation or breathing exercises before bed can really help me nod off.
Getting some daylight in the morning helps strengthen your Circadian rhythm which helps you sleep at night.