Is this a familiar scenario?
It’s finally the end of a long day. You’re snuggled into your fresh pyjamas. There are clean sheets on the bed, and you’re cosied in, ready to drift off for the night…… only to be hit by a hot flush, putting all ideas of a calm sleep on hold.
Does this sound like you?
If you’re one of the 80,000 Australian women entering into pre-menopause this year, experiencing menopause-related disruptions to your sleep may be a new and unwelcome experience. While this is a natural phase in a woman’s life, the many changes this brings with it can mean activities that may have previously been relatively simple, like sleep, are suddenly under significant pressure.
Quality sleep is of huge importance to our overall health and wellbeing, and this is particularly true during each stage of menopause. Menopause symptoms can frequently disrupt sleep patterns, creating a bit of a dilemma for women who want to reduce their symptoms and get a good night’s rest.
While maintaining a high quality of sleep can be more difficult throughout menopause, it’s not impossible. We’ve gathered tips and insights that can help you protect your sleep throughout each of the changes menopause brings.
What’s the connection between menopause and sleep disruptions?
Menopause leads to all kinds of hormonal shifts – and unfortunately, these hormonal shifts can have a significant impact on sleep patterns, creating ongoing disruptions as changing physiological processes decrease the likelihood of uninterrupted sleep. When oestrogen and progesterone levels begin to fluctuate as a result of menopause, this can result in symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, and insomnia. These hormonal shifts can have an unsettling effect on the body’s internal clock, making consistent sleep elusive and challenging to achieve.
Oestrogen has multiple functions, but one that’s relevant to sleep is its facilitation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate sleep. When oestrogen levels drop naturally as a result of lowered oestrogen production, this can impact serotonin’s effectiveness, leading to a reduction in the quality and duration of your sleep. As oestrogen also helps to maintain constant body temperatures, fluctuations can lead to hot flushes and night sweats, which also have significant and detrimental impacts on sleep quality.
Progesterone, another hormone that fluctuates throughout menopause, is also known for its sedative effects. This hormone plays a key role in maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle, so declines in its production can also result in problems with falling or staying asleep.
Beyond these hormonal changes, stress, anxiety, and mood fluctuations can also be heightened as a result of menopausal changes. These impacts on mood and emotional regulation can also contribute to sleep disruptions, with higher levels of stress and anxiety often directly correlating to problems with achieving a consistently high quality of sleep.
The importance of restful sleep during menopause
Ironically, given all of the factors that can contribute to a lower quality of sleep, it can be more important than ever to prioritise sleep throughout each season of menopause. A woman’s body is undergoing significant changes in these moments of transition – sleep is necessary to restore muscle tissues, providing relief from the impact of symptoms, and helping to support the immune system in the midst of hormone fluctuations.
Sleep is also crucial to supporting mental function throughout menopause and beyond, providing critical support for the consolidation of memories, the stabilisation of moods, and helping to promote the highest quality of cognitive function.
Although your sleep quality may feel under attack during menopause, it’s never been more important to find ways to achieve a restful night’s sleep than it is during these stages.
Struggling to achieve a restful night’s sleep during menopause? Contact the Australian Menopause Centre to discover personalised treatment pathways.
How to achieve a good night’s sleep during menopause
No two menopause experiences will mirror each other’s, which means you’ll likely need to experiment with these tips and tricks to find the right tools for your personal needs. However, these factors can all help to contribute to a higher quality of sleep during menopause:
- A restful bedroom environment: by making sure that your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet, you can help to create an environment that’s conducive to sleep, not working against it.
- Consistency in your wind-down routines and habits: high-quality sleep loves consistency. You can support your body’s circadian rhythm by prioritising going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, including weekends. Although naps can be beneficial for some women during menopause, a nap that’s too long can actually disrupt your nighttime sleep, creating more chaos instead of calm. By cultivating a relaxing and repeatable routine before bed, you can support your body with regular signals that it’s time to wind down and get ready for a good night’s sleep.
- Review your diet: did you know that the food you consume has a direct impact on your quality of sleep? While some foods can support sleep, others can actively work against it. Steer clear of stimulants such as caffeine or spicy foods that can cause disruptions to your ability to sleep if they’re consumed too late in the day. While alcohol may make you feel drowsy at first, it can also create interruptions in your sleep patterns, and may be best avoided if you’re struggling with your sleep rhythms.
- Get enough exercise: not only does regular physical activity help to alleviate some menopausal symptoms, but it can also be a significant tool in achieving a great night’s sleep. By wearing your body out, you can help to settle it when it’s time to wind down and drift off. Aim to finish exercising a minimum of 3 hours before bedtime in order to make the most of exercise’s benefits.
If you’re struggling with your sleep throughout menopause, you’re not alone: this is a highly common experience, and help is available to you. Reach out to the friendly, expert team at Australian Menopause Centre today to find how our personalised treatments can help you to reclaim your sleep routines, giving you the energy you need for your best days yet.