Menopause and Sleep

Many women making the transition to menopause have trouble sleeping. Several strategies can help you get the rest you need.

If you’re a women of a certain age and you often find yourself staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, you’re not alone. The years leading up to menopause and the period that immediately follows are the times that women are most likely to report problems sleeping, according to the National sleep Foundation. Many different conditions that are common in this stage of life – including hot flashes, obstructive sleep apnea, and mood disorders such as depression or anxiety – can cause sleep problems.

Downsides of no sleep

  • Experts recommend at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night for most people.
  • People who regularly get fewer than six hours of asleep are at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline, and death from any cause.
  • A lack of restful sleep also makes it more likely that a person will gain weight and have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol

Sleep disruptors in menopause

Hot flashes

When a hot flash happens at night, you may awaken as your skin flushes and your body begins to sweat to dissipate the heat. One study found that 40% to 45% of women reported that hot flashes made it difficult to sleep. The frequency of hot flashes is highly variable. Some women have very few; others have one or more during most nights.

Obstructive sleep apnea

As women age, they become more likely to experience obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep, leading to poor sleep quality and daytime exhaustion. It’s thought that the condition become more common with age because women going through the menopausal transition often gain weight, a risk factor for the disorder.

Mood disorders

As they enter menopause, women become more likely to experience mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression, which may affect sleep quality.

Improving sleep quality

  • Adopt a regular sleep schedule
  • Seek help for hot flashes
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine late in the day
  • Exercise ( in the morning or in the afternoon)
  • Create a restful environment
  • Talk to your health care provider

If you often feel tired when waking or have trouble staying up throughout the day, or if your partner notices that your snoring is louder and your breathing stops for short periods during the night, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. A visit to your healthcare provider can get you on the road to an effective treatment.

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