If you’ve entered menopause and have recently started having trouble falling asleep or noticed a negative change in the quality of your sleep, it’s not in your head.
The decrease in natural estrogen that occurs during menopause can cause disrupted sleep patterns.
It’s not actually the lack of estrogen itself that causes sleep disturbances, it’s the associated symptoms — hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, mood swings, etc., that will keep you up at night.
Unfortunately, insomnia can lead to lots of other issues on top of the ones you may already be experiencing, including brain fog, fatigue, increased risk of heart disease, irritability, headaches and forgetfulness among other side effects.
None of that sounds like fun, and some of the side effects of insomnia are downright unsafe, so if you’ve found yourself suddenly in the throes of it during menopause, it’s important to try to get your sleep back on track.
Here are some things you can try to combat insomnia during menopause:
Stick to a routine
If you don’t already have an established bedtime routine, now is a good time to start one.
A relaxing bedtime routine sends signals to your brain and body that it’s time to wind down and get some rest.
Whether it’s a relaxing bath, a cup of tea and a book or your favorite show, nightly skincare regimen and essential oils, come up with a routine that makes you feel calm and ready for sleep.
If that involves television or any other type of digital media, just be sure to use a blue-light-blocking setting, app or glasses to avoid disrupting your circadian rhythm.
Meditating for five or 10 minutes just before you lie down to sleep at night can help clear your thoughts and lower your heart rate, both of which can help you settle in and doze off faster and with more ease compared to just letting your thoughts run rampant at the end of the day.
If meditating is new to you, there are lots of apps for guided meditation and even free guided meditations on YouTube that you can listen to.
Get new PJs
You know how you can get moisture-wicking workout clothes and Summer-weather clothes?
Well, you can also get moisture-wicking pajamas! If hot flashes and night sweats are keeping you up at night, it’s definitely worth a try.
Brands like Soma and Under Armor both have cute and comfy options in a wide range of colors, patterns and sizes, for both warm weather and cooler weather.
Sleep-inducing supplements like melatonin and Valerian Root are readily available in gummy, capsule and tea form and can make a huge difference for many people.
Generally, they have a mild sedative effect that kicks in within about 30 minutes and will have you ready to drift off into dreamland.
Just be sure to check with your physician before giving them a try, especially if you’re on any other medications.
Run a fan
It might seem overly simple, but sometimes just running a fan through the night can help your quality of sleep dramatically.
This is particularly true if hot flashes are waking you at night.
It’s difficult for anyone to sleep when they are too hot and keeping a constant cool breeze going may be just the thing to keep you comfortable enough to stay asleep.
Use white noise
If you’re battling hormone-induced symptoms at night, you certainly don’t want to have to deal with environmental factors as well.
If you’re not already running a fan — or maybe even if you are — using a white noise machine or app can drown out any annoying or abrupt sounds and noises and help lull you to sleep while simultaneously keeping any outside noises from waking you up.
While a generic white noise sound is usually an option, many people find rain, thunderstorm and ocean waves sounds to be ultra-relaxing.
If good sleep is still eluding you after you’ve attempted various fixes to get back on track or a lack of sleep is beginning to affect your ability to function well during the day, you might want to consider speaking with your physician about Hormone Replacement Therapy, also known as HRT.
HRT can relieve the menopausal symptoms that are keeping you awake at night and possibly result in a return to better sleep.
Keep in mind that there may be other side effects associated with HRT so you should always make sure you have all the facts before agreeing to it.