Last updated on September 24th, 2023.
A natural stage of life, menopause is the hormonal phase that happens 12 to 24 months after a person’s last period. Even from the start of perimenopause (the beginning of the menopause transition), many physical and emotional changes may start to occur. However, one of the main changes people tend to experience during this phase of life relates to sleep. Loss of sleep, sleep interruption, and general fatigue are just some of the symptoms that can come alongside the progression of menopause.
Better rest during menopause
So, what causes menopause to impact sleep health, and how can people equip themselves to experience better rest during this complex hormonal phase? Let’s unpack some of the reasons why insomnia comes along with menopause and some tips for coping with it. After all, a lack of sleep not only affects your physical well-being but also has a knock-on effect on your mental health.
4 Reasons Why Your Insomnia Could Be Caused By Menopause
While many of us might rejoice at the idea of no more monthly periods, rest assured the body has plenty of other fun surprises to replace it. Hormonal flux, hot flashes, fatigue, weight gain, and mental health issues are just some of the symptoms that are commonly experienced during menopause. And that’s right, insomnia can be added to that list. Insomnia is an extremely common side effect of menopause. In fact, anywhere between 26-30% of women experience some form of insomnia just before, during, or after menopause. And there are a couple of reasons why this could be the case. Let’s take a look at the top four:
Hormonal flux. One of the most significant changes that the body undergoes during menopause is that it massively reduces estrogen production. As the female reproductive hormone, estrogen is responsible for regulating sex drive, reproductive health, heart and blood vessel development, and brain development. But the shock of such a reduced volume of estrogen in the body can cause sleeping problems. The lower amounts of estrogen in the blood lead to higher body temperatures which makes sleeping uncomfortable and can also cause mood swings that lead to anxiety, making sleep elusive.
Reduced melatonin production. When the body starts shifting gear from the menstruation phase to the menopausal phase, it also stops producing as much melatonin. Melatonin is commonly known as the sleep hormone, responsible for calming your brain down at night and helping you to stay asleep throughout the night. Naturally, a reduction in melatonin can make it harder for you to fall (and stay) asleep. This can be expressed as frequent waking, inability to fall asleep, or unusually early rising. Unfortunately, these inconsistent sleeping habits tend to snowball, creating a catch-22 of fatigue and sleeplessness.
Hot flashes. Sometimes, the reason people going through menopause can’t sleep is because they are experiencing hot flashes. Hot flashes are sudden feelings of feverish heat which seem to come from deep within the body. They can be very uncomfortable, especially at night. Core temperature plays a major role in sleep health, so experiencing hot flashes throughout the night is a near-direct route to experiencing some form of insomnia.
Mental health. And finally, another reason why menopause and insomnia are linked is through mental health. Many people struggle to fall asleep at night due to feelings of stress or anxiety, both of which can come alongside the transition into a menopausal phase.
It is difficult to fall asleep when your mind is preoccupied with worries and concerns about everyday life, no matter how realistic they may be. This is why mental health issues are one of the most common reasons behind insomnia.
Natural Ways To Cope With Menopause-Induced Sleep Trouble
Despite the struggles that can come with the presence of menopause and perimenopause, there are ways to curb its symptoms. When it comes to menopausal insomnia, there are a few ways you can support healthy sleeping patterns that don’t require medication.
1. Reduced consumption of caffeine and alcohol
This is a good way to promote better sleep whether you are undergoing hormonal changes. Both caffeine and alcohol are known to stimulate the body and give you energy, which is not what you need as you’re winding down for bed. While consuming these beverages recreationally is still fine in moderation, slowing down your intake can help lessen the impact of your insomnia.
Timing is also important. For instance, drinking coffee between 9 am – 12 pm gives your body time to process it before bedtime, and choosing less sugary alcohol like red wine or small quantities of spirits such as quality vodka or gin and soda can make it easier for you to sleep.
The mindful, slow movements of a physical practice like yoga can calm the body and mind. Many studies suggest that gentle yoga in the mornings and early evenings can promote longer, more restorative sleep at night.
It also has many other health benefits that could prove useful for those going through menopause, such as improved mood, less anxiety, and a faster metabolism. However, once again, timing is crucial. You must ensure your yoga practice doesn’t give you an endorphin rush too close to bedtime, as this will make it harder to fall asleep. To avoid this, Yoga Nidra is a great choice at night as it literally means yogic sleep, whereas a more active practice like Vinyasa is best suited to mornings.
Aromatherapy entails using natural essential oils to calm down the mind and relax the body. In a recent clinical trial, women who underwent lavender essential oil treatments for six weeks had up to 50% fewer hot flashes than those who didn’t.
Getting a diffuser and using it to fill your bedroom with the soft, gentle aromas of anxiolytic herbs and flowers such as lavender, peppermint, lemon, and chamomile can be effective for insomnia. It may take some trial and error, but finding the scents that work for you is well worthwhile.
In addition to melatonin supplements, plenty of other vitamins and minerals support sleep. To ensure you give yourself the optimum chance of getting a good night’s rest, you can take supplements like NMN L-Theanine, and magnesium that enhance sleep quality. Natural supplements are often far better than prescription drugs or chemical-laden over-the-counter tablets. However, always speak to a healthcare professional before starting any new regime to ensure you stay safe.
Your mind is a powerful weapon against many things in life, and clearing your thoughts and creating a sense of stillness can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep. A short meditation session every night before bed can put your mind at rest, give you time to unwind, and help you to relax. You can even use a guided meditation that includes relaxing music or visualization to completely free your mind.
Final Thoughts on the Insomnia and Menopause Connection
Uteruses and hormones don’t play around. The side effects of menstruation, menopause, and perimenopause can be extremely draining and frustrating, and lack of sleep doesn’t help. Everyone is different. However, statistics show that a huge number of people going through menopause battle with feeling tired and drowsy at work, and many suffer from anxiety and depression during this time too. One solution to this is Vitality Pro, high quality supplements designed to help those going through menopause reduce fatigue and drowsiness during the day.
With these tips for naturally curbing insomnia at home, anyone going through menopause and struggling to sleep through the night can start their journey to more restorative rest. And if the problem persists, remember to approach a medical professional for an official examination.