Struggling to sleep during the menopause transition? You’re not alone. Many women experience insomnia and disrupted sleep through perimenopause. The good news is that there are effective ways to address perimenopause-related sleep problems so you wake up feeling better.
Insomnia refers to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep that impacts how you feel the next day. Chronic insomnia lasts longer than three months. While not all women experience sleep issues during perimenopause, 25-30% may notice significant changes in their sleep, according to a 2015 study that examined the sleep quality of perimenopausal women.
There are several reasons why sleep can be disrupted during perimenopause:
Night Sweats or Hot flashes: These sudden feelings of heat and sweating, often followed by chills, that many perimenopausal women experience, can frequently wake you up or make it hard to fall asleep.
Depression or Anxiety: Mood changes or increased anxiety are common in perimenopause and sleep disruption is often a common symptom with these mental health concerns. Insomnia can also worsen symptoms of depression or anxiety. This can be a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.
Breathing Difficulties: Weight gain and ageing increase the risk of sleep apnea (breathing pauses during sleep), exacerbating insomnia and fatigue.
Restless Legs: Restless legs syndrome, an uncomfortable urge to move your legs at night, becomes more common with age and can significantly disrupt sleep.
9 Ways to Help Menopause Insomnia
The good news is there are effective ways to improve your sleep during perimenopause.
Here are 9 strategies to try:
- Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to regulate your body’s internal clock.
- Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Do calming activities before bed like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing meditation. A guided meditation or body scan can help you unwind.
- Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool for the best sleep. Use blackout curtains, a white noise machine, earplugs, or an eye mask if needed. And send snoring bed partners to another room to sleep!
- Manage Hot Flashes and Night Sweats: Wear breathable pajamas and use cooling products like fans, cooling pads, and moisture-wicking sheets to stay comfortable. Avoid triggers like spicy food, alcohol, and heavy meals before bed. You may also be a candidate for menopause hormone therapy if you have significant night sweats and hot flashes.
- Practice Stress Reduction: Try meditation, yoga, journaling, or deep breathing to relieve stress and promote relaxation. BRIA offers yoga classes tailored for perimenopause.
- Exercise Regularly: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days. No need to join a gym or do anything fancy–even a brisk walk is great! Aerobic exercise and strength training can significantly improve your sleep, but avoid intense workouts close to bedtime.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia – This type of talk therapy can support developing and maintaining strong sleep patterns and while addressing barriers to restful sleep.
- Limit Stimulants: Cut back on caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially in the evening. Opt for herbal tea instead.
- Seek Professional Healthcare if Needed: If you have underlying hot flashes or mental health concerns or if your insomnia persists or significantly impacts your quality of life, you may need to talk to your primary care provider for help. Your healthcare provider may prescribe treatment options, such as menopause hormone therapy, antidepressant medications, or other medications to target the underlying causes of insomnia.