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!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Drugs for menopause

This is getting so out of control in my opinion, but for those of you who still have horrible hot flashes, I suppose it could be good news.

Seizure drug enhances sleep for women with hot flashes

Gabapentin, a drug initially used to treat seizures, improves sleep quality in menopausal women with hot flashes, University of Rochester Medical Center researchers report online and in the September issue of the Journal of Women's Health.

Approximately 40 percent of menopausal women experience sleep disruption, often in the form of difficulty with sleep initiation and frequent nighttime awakenings. The study is the first to show sustained benefits in sleep quality from gabapentin, which Rochester researchers already have demonstrated alleviates hot flashes.

"Gabapentin improves sleep quality but does not have the potential dependency problems of some other sleep medications and does not involve the use of hormone replacement therapy," said Michael E. Yurcheshen, M.D., assistant professor of Neurology and the lead author of the article.

"It has minimal side effects and it is a generic drug," said Yurcheshen, who is based at the Strong Sleep Disorders Center. "That makes it a very attractive treatment for these problems in this patient population."

For the current study, researchers used data from a previously published randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of gabapentin in 59 postmenopausal women who experienced seven to 20 hot flashes daily. The subjects took either 300 milligrams of gabapentin three times a day or a placebo.

The research used a factor analysis of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a well-known and validated questionnaire, to evaluate sleep. The results showed overall improvement in the sleep quality score, even after 12 weeks of treatment.

Gabapentin's impact on the sleep quality factor in menopausal women may reflect improvement in hot flashes, stabilization of sleep architecture, or a decrease in the amount of time to transition from wakefulness to sleep, the researchers wrote. It is also possible that gabapentin improved sleep quality by addressing underlying sleep pathology, such as restless legs syndrome.
"We really are not sure which mechanism is responsible, but this study suggests that it does work to improve sleep quality," Yurcheshen said. Read the full article here

What are your feelings?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

September Musings & Summer Memories

We've had glorious weather in Michigan and even though Fall doesn't officially begin until the 22nd, I'm already getting "into the mood"! My thoughts are going to cider and cinnamon donuts and my eyes are searching the tops of the trees. Noticed the first colors on a couple of trees yesterday! I also keep an eye on several live cameras from the UP since they turn first. I'll never forget my trip up to Copper Harbor (5 years ago-I think) where I was fortunate enough to catch the tail-end of the fall colors! After that trip I was ready to MOVE up there, but alas, it was not to be. Here are just a couple of the (hundred) pictures I took up there:

This year I spent my summer going to the grandkids' soccer and baseball games.....

and watching the birds and other critters from my office window:

Since it's only the 3rd of September, I guess I don't really have many "musings" yet! LOL I really just wanted to get my posts started for this month. Everyone is getting ready (in the US for the Labor Day weekend. I plan on getting my Sept. newsletter ready to send on the 9th. If you're not on the list, sign up at