Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Have trouble sleeping because of menopause?

I believe this issue deserves more attention than it gets, not only during menopause, but throughout our lives. And it not only affects us women, but spouses and even young children. It not only affects your energy level but also your weight! Just read this: "....lack of sleep changes blood-sugar levels and metabolism. It also affects impulse control, and it's harder for people to pass on food they know they shouldn't be eating."

What are some of the reasons for lack of sleep or trouble sleeping during the menopausal transition? According to one website it could be any one or a combination of:
•hyperarousal - anxiety, stress

•poor pre bedtime and sleep habits

•underlying mood disorders

•sedative overuse


•general medical problems

•nighttime urinary frequency

Here are some of their tips on how to get a better night's sleep:
•Make sure bedroom noise is controlled and temperature is cool

•have a fixed schedule to going to bed and getting up. Try not to vary it.

•avoid alcohol and exercise within 5-6 hours of bedtime and no caffeine after noon.

•do not look at the bedroom clock after you lie down in bed or if you get up at night

•eat a light snack containing protein, especially tryptophan, before bed. This would include milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, bananas, fish, and turkey.

•do not reflect upon the day's events or your "todo" list in the hour or two before bed But this could be anyone.

What is the connection to menopause? According to WebMD, a site I rely on a lot (but always compare info from at least 3 sites) "Approximately 75-85% of menopausal women experience hot flashes, which can last for five years. Hot flashes and sweating can make it difficult to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 61% of menopausal women have sleep problems. Sleeping difficulties can lead to other problems, such as daytime drowsiness."

So what are some of the solutions for getting a good night's sleep? Here are a few recommendations:
Some Dr's recommend HRT, but there's a lot of confusion and controversy about what kind, how much and how long you should take it. Many women still use it and swear by it. It's truly a personal decision as are other solutions such as black cohosh. Dr. Andrew Weil says: "Black cohosh (Cimfugaa racemosa) can help relieve hot flashes and insomnia related to menopause." Some women use sleep aids because at some point you just can't keep going about your busy life with no sleep! It affects your relationships, your career and your overall health.

There's also melatonin, which promotes sleep, as well as SleepyTime Tea with Valerian (another herb that helps you sleep). There are different kinds of wicking sleepwear and bedding to use, many kinds of cooling devices such as a fan that blows under your sheets and something to slide inside your pillowcase. The small battery fans are a big help, as well as a refreshing, cooling spray or a glass of ice water kept on your beside table . Everyone's key to a good night's sleep is different.

I found that using bedding that has the Outlast technology has really improved my "night heat" problem. Yes they are a Sponsor, but I was not paid to recommend their products. For me it really works. As a side note, nearly every type of "cooling bedding" you find on the market will be using the Outlast technology.

Let us know what works for you or if you have another solution!


  1. Melatonin and extra "turn" pillows work for me. I always have an extra pillow that I can put under my head, silly as that sounds. This is also maybe a security thing? I've always had a pillow against the wall when I was little. It would get cool and when I was hot in the night, I switched pillows. I don't even know whether I awaken to do this--it goes along with what you were writing about. And I wrote about melatonin yesterday. Being off and on pain medications interfered with my body's ability to produce that on its own. And I have read that our bodies have trouble with that at various points anyway, so it has helped me a lot, and I'm not groggy in the morning. I also can wake up in a hurry even if I have taken it--I had to get my late sister to the ER once after having taken it. No problems at all. Good column!

  2. Anonymous2:00 PM

    Thanks for taking up this issue. My insomnia seems to stem from hyperarousal. I can be very tired but as soon as I'm in bed, my body is buzzing. I haven't really found a good remedy yet.

  3. I discovered that I had bought melatonin awhile back, but never took it. Not sure why unless it was before I found out I had sleep apnea. Once I started using a cpap machine I have no problem getting to sleep, staying asleep or having to takes naps. It's amazing. I would recommend anyone who has any of the symptoms to have a sleep study done. Holy smokes, look at the symptoms of sleep apnea! hmmmm...some of them correlate with menopause symptoms:

    The most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that you may notice include:

    --Excessive daytime sleepiness, which is falling asleep when you normally should not, such as while you are eating, talking, or driving.
    --Waking with an unrefreshed feeling after sleep, having problems with memory and concentration, feeling tired, and experiencing personality changes.
    --Morning or night headaches. About half of all people with sleep apnea report headaches.2
    --Heartburn or a sour taste in the mouth at night.
    --Swelling of the legs if you are obese.
    --Getting up during the night to urinate (nocturia).
    --Sweating and chest pain while you are sleeping.

    Symptoms of sleep apnea that others may notice include:

    --Episodes of not breathing (apnea), which may occur as few as 5 times an hour (mild apnea) to more than 50 times an hour (severe apnea). How many episodes you have determines how severe your sleep apnea is.
    --Loud snoring. Almost all people who have sleep apnea snore, but not all people who snore have sleep apnea.
    --Restless tossing and turning during sleep.
    --Nighttime choking or gasping spells.

  4. I have been trying to eat a bowl of cheerios with milk. I deal with worries on blood sugar since I had gestational diabetes with my pregnancy 12 years ago. So far that is under control. But find that in the last year especially, my sleep is becoming less and less. I try to go to bed the same time each night, but always tend to wake up between 3-4am with night sweats, and/or a pee break. Once I lay back down it is almost impossible for me to get shut eye. I also feel I too am suffering with sleep apnea. Sadly I have no medical insurance so can't pursue any testing on that. I just take one day at a time and say a lot of prayers. Melatonin though I have tried before, and it has helped. I just don't like taking pills of any kind if I can get around it. Thanks for the great info Dee :)

  5. If you feel sleepy or tired during daytime, then there may be possibilities of Sleep apnea. It is the worst case and one cannot find it themselves. Consult your family members or your partner who sleep along with you regarding your problem. If you had Sleep apnea then proper care should be taken to cure the problem.