Can’t sleep? Is Menopause the Culprit?

Contributed by: Lisa Larkin, MD, FACP, NCMP, IF, Director, UC Health Women’s Center, Associate Professor Obstetrics and Gynecology; Director, Division Midlife Women’s Health and Primary Care

SleepSleep is something we all need but many of us don’t get enough of especially as we age. For some women, getting seven to eight hours of sleep may come naturally but many women find as their hormones begin to change during their mid to late 30s and they enter perimenopause – usually in your late 40s –  getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always a given!

According to a new study, published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, women in perimenopause – usually three to five years before the beginning of menopause when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen – get less deep sleep and wake more often in the week before menstruation.

During perimenopause, ovaries gradually decrease production of estrogen and progesterone, both sleep promoting hormones. The decline of hormones can be unsettling to a woman’s body, sometimes contributing to the inability to get a good night’s sleep. Researchers found that women who experience hot flashes during perimenopause are more likely to experience sleep disturbances due to the surge of adrenaline, awakening your brain from sleep.

“Menstrual cycle variation in hormones is one piece in the overall picture of sleep quality in midlife women,” said a study author, Fiona C. Baker, PhD, of the Center for Health Sciences at SRI International in Menlo Park, California. “This research can lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind sleep disturbances during the approach to menopause and can inform the development of better symptom management strategies.”

Just as important as regular exercise and eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep is vital to your health! While I strongly encourage those suffering from sleep problems to see a specialist, there are a few things you can do at home to encourage better sleep:

  • Establish a bedtime routine that you will follow every night.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on the weekends and days off work.
  • Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
  • Keep your bedroom dark or use a comfy eye-mask.
  • Keep your bedroom cool.
  • Reduce physical activity within three hours of bedtime.
  • Don’t eat a large meal or drink a lot of liquids within two to three hours before bedtime.
  • Try relaxation breathing or take a warm bath.

If you’ve tried these tips and nothing is helping you catch more zzz’s, please call us at (513) 475-UC4U to schedule a comprehensive sleep consultation.

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