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13 Mar 2015

The Link between Menopause and Insomnia


Studies have shown that over 60 percent of menopausal women have difficulty sleeping. Here are the causes, symptoms, preventive measures and treatments for insomnia during menopause.

Causes of insomnia during menopause:
Hormonal changes: Your body produces less estrogen and progesterone during menopause. Apart from governing your reproductive cycles, these hormones also affect your ability to sleep and make you more sensitive to disruptions when you are sleeping.
Stress: During menopause, some women experience higher stress levels due to excess secretion of the hormone cortisol. Disproportionate cortisol levels can affect your nervous system, causing your heart to race, making you feel panicky and interfering with your sleep.
Hot flashes: Most women experience hot flashes during menopause and these episodes combined with bouts of sweating can make it difficult to sleep at night.
Life events: When women reach the age of menopause, there are usually other factors in their lives that can cause them anxiety and stress. These could be financial struggles, children getting married or moving away or marital troubles. These issues can cause significant stress and keep you awake at night.

Symptoms:
• Difficulty in falling asleep.
• Waking up very early.
• Frequent disruptions to sleep and difficulty in going back to sleep.
• Waking up feeling tired in the morning.

Preventive measures:
• Avoid taking afternoon naps.
• Drink a glass of milk before sleeping.
• Shower with warm water before you go to bed.
• Exercise regularly, but earlier in the day and not right before bedtime.
• Wear loose, comfortable pyjamas, which are preferably made of cotton.
• Sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day.
• Keep your room cool, dark and quiet.
• Don't try to wake up too early.
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
• Try not to eat spicy food.

Treatments:
If these measures are not working for you, consult your doctor about the issue. Some doctors recommend taking sleep pills while others prefer to not prescribe them. In some cases, if the symptoms of menopause are unbearable, doctors recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) in order to reduce hot flashes and improve sleep. Your doctor may also prescribe antidepressant medications that also be used to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

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