Studies show that lack of sleep leads to decreased function in the daytime, including lack of concentration, irritability, and a weaker immune system. For women undergoing menopause, this can be even more devastating as they are dealing with shifting hormone levels – which are often the root of their sleep problems – as well as all the stresses of adult life. Fortunately, sleep disorders can be managed and even treated.

Sleep disorders during menopause

On average, a healthy adult needs approximately 7 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep per night. Yet many women do not receive the proper amount. Those with sleep disorders experience the persistent problem of going without the recommended amount of uninterrupted sleep, leading to a weakened immune system, increased anxiety, and a worsening of pre-existing medical conditions. This may also have a strain on business or personal relationships and cause emotional disturbances. Women wake up more often during the night and as a result are tired and can’t concentrate during the day. The sleep cycle is highly important to maintain a healthy demeanour and immune system, and sleep disorders throw this into disarray.

Symptoms of sleep disorders

Sleep disorders can encompass a variety of symptoms and conditions; however, there are certain warning signs that are fairly common. If experiencing any of the following, the existence of one or more sleep disorders is likely.

Types of sleep disorders

There is a wide variety of sleep disorders. As people age, there is a tendency to get less sleep in general, as well as less time spent in the deepest, most beneficial periods of the sleep cycle. For menopausal women, the most commonly reported sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome.

Menopause symptoms related to sleep disorders

The results of symptoms caused by these sleep disorders are often closely correlated to other symptoms of menopause. For example, night sweats, the nighttime version of hot flushes, can disrupt sleep patterns by causing a woman to awaken several times during the night. Sleep disorders can also lead to further depression and anxiety, which may make sleep difficult. This can cause a vicious circle of lack of sleep, fatigue, and other unpleasant symptoms of menopause. Effects of sleep disorders While it is possible to suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and be completely unaware of this during the evening, these interruptions in a woman’s sleeping patterns will surely have a noticeable effect on her daily life. Below is a list of common effects of sleep disorders:

  •  Reduced capacity for learning, speech, and memory
  •  Inability to concentrate on daily tasks
  •  Higher chance of car accidents
  •  Tendency towards weight gain
  •  Weakened immune system
  •  Damage to business and personal relationships
  •  Increased irritability
  •  Depression and fatigue.

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What sleep disorders during menopause?

The primary reason why a woman may develop sleep disorders during menopause relates to the hormonal fluctuations that are taking place within her body. Declining levels of hormones, specifically of oestrogen and progesterone, affect a woman in myriad ways, one being sleep disorders. Oestrogen and progesterone’s effects on sleep As mentioned above, oestrogen and progesterone affect sleep. Dropping levels of either hormone can cause sleep disorders, although each one influences sleep differently. The information below specifies how oestrogen and progesterone affect sleep. How a decline in oestrogen affects sleep

  • Slows down the intake and secondary production of magnesium, a mineral that helps muscles to relax.
  • Linked to hot flashes and night sweats, which interrupt sleep cycle.
  • Linked to sleep apnea, which disturbs breathing during the night.

How a decline in oestrogen affects sleep

  • Slows down the intake and secondary production of magnesium, a mineral that helps muscles to relax.
  • Linked to hot flashes and night sweats, which interrupt sleep cycle.
  • Linked to sleep apnea, which disturbs breathing during the night.

How a decline in progesterone affects sleep

  • Progesterone has a sleep-inducing effect. When levels decline, the ability to fall asleep soundly does as well.
  • Linked to insomnia, and inability to fall asleep promptly.

Although hormonal imbalance is generally the root cause of sleep disorders during menopause, a woman’s psychology can also play a part in her sleep disorders. Psychological causes of sleep disorders During the years leading up to menopause, a woman must undergo a great deal of changes involving her body which can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. Anxiety is linked to an inability to fall asleep, while depression has been known to cause early morning waking. Problems at work or issues in interpersonal relationships can add to stress levels and make it difficult to relax enough to obtain a full night of rest. This can cause insomnia or other sleep disorders. The typical woman often has an extremely hectic schedule, balancing her family along with multiple other responsibilities, which can lead to little time for sleep. Some women are more prone to sleep disorders than others.

  • Below is a list of risk factors that can make a woman more susceptible to sleep disorders:
  •  Obesity
  •  High blood pressure
  •  Age
  •  Use of caffeine or nicotine
  •  Use of drugs or alcohol
  •  Inactivity or lack of exercise
  •  Working night shifts.

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