How does menopause affect sleep?

Tips & treatments to help you nod off & manage sleeplessness during menopause

Night sweats, hot flushes, heart palpitations… sound familiar? If you’re a woman of a certain age, chances are you’re going through the menopause. Although the journey from perimenopause to menopause can feel like a rocky road, with some simple lifestyle tweaks you can help ease the transition and decrease your symptoms.

What is menopause?

Menopause is the period in a woman’s life when menstruation stops. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being 51. As a woman begins the march towards menopause, levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone begin to drop – this hormonal rollercoaster can throw you off-kilter, leaving you fatigued and deflated.

Stuck counting sheep?

For many women, menopause and lack of sleep go hand in hand. Why? It’s thought that a fall in oestrogen and progesterone affects the body’s temperature control, which can often lead to hot flushes and night sweats. These short, sudden feelings of heat – usually in the face, neck and chest – can make skin feel sweaty, and make catching those all-important ZZZs a real challenge.

Although hot flushes can happen without warning, they can also be triggered by a whole range of things, including eating spicy food, drinking caffeine or alcohol, smoking, wearing thick clothing and feeling stressed or anxious. Our advice? Skip the nightcap and vindaloo and trade them for a night time tea.

Treating the symptoms of hot flushes

Treating the symptoms of hot flushes can help make drifting into the land of nod a little easier. The most effective treatment for hot flushes during menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

HRT – which is available as a tablet, skin patch or gel – replaces depleted hormones. 

There are two main types of HRT:

Combined HRT (oestrogen and progestogen) – for women who still have their womb

Oestrogen-only HRT – for women who’ve had their womb removed in a hysterectomy

Although HRT is effective at relieving hot flushes and night sweats, there are a number of side effects and risks.

Discuss the risks and benefits of HRT with your GP or consider various other treatments to help cope with sleep problems in menopause.

Don’t let sleeplessness get you down

Treatments aren’t the only thing that can help ease sleeplessness. Why not try some of these simple lifestyle tweaks to help you drift into a sweet slumber?

• Establish a relaxing routine before bed – try dousing your pillow in lavender spray or learn how to breathe mindfully

• Exercise during the day – this can help decrease stress, improve sleep and lower core body temperature

• Wear loose, light clothing to help you stay cool

• Use a bedside fan and avoid using heavy blankets or sheets on your bed

• Have a cold drink. We love Chilly's reusable water bottles to keep your water cold for 24 hours

• Maintain a healthy weight

• Consider a herbal medication such as Nytol Herbal Tablets*

• Avoid smoking

• Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine

• Avoid eating spicy foods

Prime your body for snoozing with our simple lifestyle tweaks and help leave hot flushes and night sweats in the past. Go on, start boosting your odds of sleep today!

If you’re concerned about menopause and sleep loss (including insomnia) book an appointment with your GP.

*A traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances. Exclusively based on long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.