Menopause And Insomnia – Understanding The Symptoms + Treatments
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Sleep disorders can interfere with relationships, work, and the overall quality of life – and it’s much worse when insomnia and menopause coincide. To maintain your mental, emotional and physical health during menopause, it is vital that you understand all of its stages and how to improve your sleep in all of them.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life when she has not had a menstrual period for twelve months straight.
It is also a sign that the woman’s reproductive years are over.
Normal menopause typically occurs in women aged between their late 40’s and early 50’s, but menopause symptoms can prematurely emerge as early as in their late 30’s.
Symptoms can also suddenly appear when a woman undergoes a surgical intervention such as ovary removal or chemotherapy.
Hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, change as soon as the menopausal transition starts and continue to do so as it progresses.
Progesterone, the sleep aid hormone, will cease in production as soon as the woman’s body stops menstruating.
The body will continue to produce estrogen, another sleep hormone, but in lesser amounts.
Symptoms Of Menopause
As the production of the hormone progesterone halts and estrogen levels drop, symptoms of menopause and insomnia will gradually afflict women’s health.
Headaches, physical pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, decreased libido, and mood swings are some of the symptoms that can be very hard to manage.
They usually only ease after menopausal women finish the entire menopausal transition.
Other symptoms, on the other hand, such as hot flushes, chronic insomnia, weight gain, and vaginal dryness or vaginal atrophy, can be treated with medications but can still cause similar levels of discomfort and torment.
According to statistics, up to 25 million menopausal women all over the world experience these symptoms every year.
What Is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause or premenopause occurs eight to ten years prior to when menopause occurs and lasts for a few months up to four years.
Estrogen levels typically start to drop as soon as perimenopause begins.
The decline of hormone levels will continue to speed up in the last one to two years of this stage.
During this time, perimenopausal women will start to experience menopausal symptoms yet can still have periods and get pregnant.
Symptoms of Perimenopause
Perimenopausal women will experience various unsettling symptoms of perimenopause because of the sudden shift of hormone levels in the body.
Since the hormone estrogen dips at an all-time low, women will be more susceptible to environmental factors that can successfully deter and hamper sleep.
For instance, hot flashes, sudden adrenaline surges during the night, can bring about night sweats in the middle of sleep.
Extreme mood swings in the form of “midlife crisis” and depression are also very common during this time – both of which can result in severe anxiety and sleep disturbances.
The Difference between Perimenopause and Menopause
Menopause may be considered the official finish line of the female reproduction.
However, menopause, in general, consists of three different stages.
Perimenopause, also known as premenopause, is the first stage to occur and is the general indication of the start of menopause and insomnia. Menopause then happens after and is the catalyst of the end of the menstruation cycle for menopausal women.
The third phase is postmenopause which are the years following menopause.
During this time, some of the uncomfortable menopausal symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, high blood pressure, and anxiety may slowly ease for many menopausal women.
However, because of the decline of estrogen in the body, post-menopausal women are more prone to develop osteoporosis and heart diseases.
Treatment For Perimenopausal And Menopausal Women
Perimenopause and menopause, albeit being in the same transition, manifest varied symptoms and call for different treatments.
Hormone replacement therapy, a process that enables supplementation of estrogen back in the woman’s body, is seen as one of the best treatments for both perimenopausal and menopausal women.
The hormone therapy also helps reduce sleep problems acquired from insomnia and menopause such as sleep apnea, poor sleep, and other symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing.
Other treatments include medications that target vaginal dryness, anxiety, and difficulty in breathing during sleep.
For instance, antidepressants in controlled doses can alleviate anxiety and depression.
Sleeping pills can also help in dealing with sleep problems so menopausal women can have a good night’s sleep.
You can also ask your general practitioner for over-the-counter medications for hot flashes and other upsetting symptoms.
For women who want to handle sleep problems more naturally, there are particular methods and lifestyle changes that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.
Regular exercise is one of the best remedies for sleep disorders.
Avoiding a sedentary life can bring you a better night’s sleep and improve overall sleep quality.
Yoga and meditation also produce amazing results for menopausal women who experience hot flashes and find it hard to fall asleep at night.
Insomnia And Menopause
For women going through the different stages of menopause, good sleep can be hard to achieve.
In fact, approximately sixty-one percent of post-menopausal women experience chronic insomnia and menopause.
Hot flashes coupled with sleep problems can cause a negative impact on a person’s way of life.
That is why menopausal women are more prone to develop anxiety and depression.
Many factors contribute to severe insomnia and menopause.
One of the main reasons is the sudden decline of estrogen, the sleep aid hormone, in the body.
When estrogen decreases, the stress hormone cortisol increases as a result. That leads to a lot of anxiety-related conditions such as weight gain, stress, menopause and insomnia, emotional instability, and a wide range of sleep complications.
How Menopausal Women Can Improve Sleep
If your insomnia and menopause become a torturous ordeal and sleep become too elusive, you can find relief through remedies that can easily be found in your home.
A glass of orange juice or a tonic consisting of apple cider vinegar is an easy approach in dealing with your menopausal symptoms naturally.
Cutting back on your alcohol and caffeine intake can also improve sleep at night.
If you’re not keen on taking antidepressants and sleeping pills for your sleep disorder, there are several other natural treatments you can take.
Cider vinegar gets rid of hot flashes and helps you achieve a relaxing sleep at night.
Black cohosh supplements are also known to alleviate symptoms related to hormonal imbalance.
However, if none of these natural treatments give you proper sleep at night, it’s best to seek out a doctor and ask for more effective alternatives.
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