Menopause and Insomnia
Insomnia is one of many disturbing symptoms women experience prior to and during menopause. Insomnia during menopause is often related to night sweats, or nighttime hot flashes, but insomnia can also occur for no apparent reason at all. Signs of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, inability to go back to sleep, fatigue, irritability, and in some cases impaired cognition and memory as a result.
Manifestations of Insomnia During Menopause
Insomnia is defined as an inability to sleep through the night. In other words, many women wake up in the early morning hours and cannot go back to sleep. Some women awaken with an uncomfortable feeling of needing to cool off by throwing off the covers (features of a night sweat). Other women are awoken by vivid dreams. Still others may awaken in a state of anxiety and find their heart beating rapidly without knowing why. In all of these cases, awakening in the wee hours of the morning and not being able to go back to sleep is very unsettling and disturbing.
What Causes Menopause-Related Insomnia?
No one knows for sure, but insomnia during menopause is most likely related to women’s hormonal changes that occur during this stage of life. Hormonal fluctuations can impair the body’s ability to maintain a consistent body temperature. Even for women who do not experiences nighttime hot flashes, rising body temperature may be interfering with their ability to sleep through the night.
Natural Remedies for Insomnia
There are many steps women can take to overcome insomnia. Among these are many natural remedies, such as herbal teas like Chamomile and Peppermint. Other sleeping aids include sedative herbs and potions sold at health food stores, such as Easy Sleep, Valerian Root, Passion Flower, Dong Quai, and Calms Forte. Melatonin, a common sleeping aid for aging individuals, can also help.
Overcoming Insomnia with Good Habits
Whatever the cause of insomnia, there are many simple steps women can take to help them get a better night’s sleep. These include:
- exercising during the day (but not right before bedtime)
- avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bedtime
- meditation and relaxation techniques
- taking a relaxing bath
- playing soft music
- sleeping in a dark, cool room
- not sleeping during the day
- regular sleeping and waking hours
A Positive Outlook
Instead of fighting their insomnia, some women find it helpful to remember that as their hormone levels balance out, menopause-induced insomnia will likely diminish and their inability to sleep will go away. With this positive outlook, some women choose to accept that they will be awake during many nights and take advantage of the extra hours to read, watch TV, listen to music, complete small projects, or simply spend some quiet time alone.
Finally, with the advent of the Internet and modern technology, women today also have the option of logging on to many online forums where they can correspond with other menopausal women who are awake in the middle of the night. Thus some final hopeful words for women suffering from menopause-related insomnia: You are not alone, and this too shall pass!