One of the most common symptoms of menopause is the inability to sleep well. Your sleep is either interrupted with night sweats or hot flashes, or you just can’t get a proper night’s rest, no matter what you do.
In today’s fast paced society, most people are sleep deprived. Getting six hours of sleep and suddenly getting up groggy to get ready work at the sound of the alarm clock is the norm.
So, when this little bit of sleep you’re probably getting gets affected during menopause, things get even worse. You feel lethargic, moody and just ‘not right’… and although you feel like all you need to do is get some decent sleep, you can’t.
Why does this happen? The reason your sleep is affected is because during menopause, your hormones are unbalanced. It’s common for women to wake up several times through the night. Their REM sleep is adversely affected and that leads to being tired and not feeling alert during their waking hours.
The estrogen in a woman’s body is linked to her serotonin levels and affects the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycles. To sleep well and doze off faster once your head hits the pillow, you need more estrogen in your body. During menopause, the body’s production of estrogen declines and this directly impacts your sleep.
In order to sleep well, your body needs to be cool. Estrogen helps to regulate your body temperature. When it drops, you’ll feel hotter. This is what causes hot flashes. While you may not experience these hot flashes, your body’s core temperature will still be higher and that will make it more difficult for you to sleep.
Another hormone that decreases in production during menopause is melatonin. This is a very important hormone that regulates the circadian rhythms in your body. Taking melatonin supplements can help with your sleep.
Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone. In the hectic world that we live in, most people are stressed out and walking around with frazzled nerves. The cortisol hormone levels in their bodies are high. During menopause, cortisol may cause you to wake up before you’re fully rested. So, taking time to relax and de-stress will help.
Leptin and Ghrelin
Not getting enough sleep leads to leptin levels in the body dropping and ghrelin levels going up. What this means is that you will feel hungry more often and will eat more than you need to. This is one reason why obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Obesity is linked to stress eating. Again, it would be a good idea to do what you can to relieve stress.
Another important hormone that is crucial for sleep is progesterone. When your progesterone levels drop, your sleep quality suffers because the body cannot be naturally sedated.
Sleep deprivation will rear its ugly head with symptoms such as confusion, clumsiness (because your mind is foggy), a lower immune system (that causes you to become ill more often) and an increase in appetite that makes you always want to eat but never reach satiation.
Sometimes, women may be overly emotional for no reason and will have no idea why. All these are symptoms of sleep deprivation.
If you observe them in yourself, take the necessary actions to get better sleep. Talk to your doctor and explore your options. There are many ways to treat this problem that range from sleeping in a cooler room to taking supplements or even going for hormone therapy.
Do not ignore this problem. Good sleep is extremely important to staying healthy and you’ll be able to cope with menopause better when you’re well-rested. Seek treatment if you can’t sleep well.