If you are like me and countless other women, you have probably noticed the quality of your sleep decline as you have gotten older. These sleep disruptions are caused from changes in the hormones in the body. Up to half of all menopausal women will experience some type of sleep disturbances in comparison to just 15% of everyone else.
Older women face a variety of challenges when it comes to sleep. Sleep problems arise from insomnia, hot flashes, and sleep apnea to name a few. Many women even begin experiencing sleep problems during perimenopause. Perimenopause is the period before menopause where hormones and periods become irregular.
Hot flashes can happen either day or night. Having a hot flash involves extreme heat throughout the body. For myself when I am experiencing a hot flash it feels like my body is on fire literally from the inside. If you are one to have hot flashes at night likely you will awaken through the night often.
Some women can develop sleep apnea later in life. This is likely due to a loss of estrogen and progesterone. Postmenopausal women are often two to three times more likely to develop sleep apnea than premenopausal women. Women also have less subtle symptoms of sleep apnea than men.
Poor quality sleep from menopause may cause anxiety and depression. It is always good to consult your physician if you are experiencing menopausal symptoms.
How Can You Sleep Better During Menopause?
You do not have to continue and suffer from countless nights of lack of sleep. There are things you can do to improve your sleep problems from menopause.
Getting enough exercise every day is important to achieving quality, restful sleep at night. Try to get at least 20 minutes of some type of physical activity every day.
There are some over the counter medications that are proven effective in combatting the various symptoms of menopause. One such medication I have personally tried and found successful is Amberen. I noticed an improvement in my hot flashes after taking it for a week. I was no longer experiencing extreme hot flashes and I noticed I slept more soundly at night. My energy level has improved greatly.
Phytoestrogens are in many foods naturally including flaxseed, sesame seeds, soy food, oats, barley, lentils, and dried beans. Phytoestrogens help a woman’s body by attaching to the estrogen receptors. If estrogen is low, the phytoestrogens will increase the estrogen level. If estrogen is high, the phytoestrogens will replace the estrogen in the body helping to reduce any harmful effects caused by the estrogen.
Black Cohosh – Studies on using black cohosh for treating menopause reveal positive benefits. For women who have reduced estrogen levels or a hormone imbalance black cohosh can be effective. In 2010 a study of menopausal women found a 26% reduction in night sweats and hot flashes.
Flaxseed – Flaxseeds contain a high amount of phytoestrogens which are good for the relief of hot flashes, and could help prevent breast cancer.
Red Clover – Red clover is a legume that contains phytoestrogens. Red clover is good to treat the symptoms of night sweats, hot flashes, high cholesterol, and bone loss.
Wild Yam – This herb contains diosgenin. Diosgenin is a plant steroid that can be used to produce progesterone, estrogen, DHEA, and cortisone.
Ginseng – A study in 2010 has shown that postmenopausal women drinking ginseng tea experienced increased sexual arousal. Gingseng is also noted to help with hot flashes, night sweats as well as lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Red Light Therapy
This is another thing I have personally been using. I can honestly say I have seen a vast improvement in my energy levels, sleep, mood as well as the condition of my skin. Red light therapy uses low levels of red and near-infrared light to heal and treat the body’s skin and cells. The best type of light therapy device to use should have a light frequency of red light in the mid-600-nanometer range and infrared in the 800s nanometer range.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Some women choose to have hormone replacement therapy. There are some benefits though the harmful effects outweigh any benefit. Before considering going this route it would be well advised to try alternatives to help with your menopause symptoms.
A woman’s body has 50 hormones that all start or stop biological functions. There are two major hormones in a woman’s body, estrogen, and progesterone. Estrogen is produced in a woman’s eggs, fat tissues, and adrenal glands. Estrogen regulates the monthly menstrual cycle. During a woman’s life, three types of estrogen are produced. Estradiol is present in child-bearing age, estriol is found in pregnancy and finally, estriol is produced after menopause.
Progesterone is another major female hormone. It is responsible for maintaining pregnancy. It has a mildly sedative effect and is produced in the placenta, adrenal glands, and woman’s eggs.
Both estrogen and progesterone fluctuate throughout the month causing sleep disruptions. Before a woman’s period, levels of progesterone will rise substantially. This increase in progesterone is to prepare the body for a possible pregnancy. As a woman nears the age of menopause hormones fluctuate even more with progesterone levels decreasing. A decrease in progesterone could cause some women to experience increased irritability and more stress.
Whether you are in menopause or nearing menopause age, the quality of your sleep does not have to suffer. There are simple things you can do to help improve the symptoms of your menopause. Taking a supplement that contains phytoestrogens or foods rich with phytoestrogens is something you should be adding to your diet every day.
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