First of all, what exactly is menopause? Let’s review: menopause is the- 12-month period following a woman’s last period in which the body naturally stops producing reproductive hormones in the ovaries. In addition, the term is also used to describe any of the changes a woman goes through just before or after she stops having her period, marking the end of her reproductive years. Women typically reach menopause in their late 40s or early-mid 50s and this time is often accompanied by some rather intense physical and emotional symptoms, such as:
- Anxiety or depression
- Intense hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Weight gain as a result of slowed metabolism
- Lower energy levels
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes & irritability
- Sleep problems like insomnia
One could argue that the emotional aspect of a woman’s shift into middle age, is a direct result of the physical shifts that women experience during this time. In this blog post, I want to hone in specifically on sleeping issues associated with menopause and remedies for them. Lack of quality sleep will unfortunately exacerbate the other symptoms mentioned above, so let’s focus on relief in that area first!
Remedies for Insomnia related to Menopause
Hot flashes are one of the most prominent causes of sleep issues during menopause. To alleviate the intensity and frequency of hot flashes, here are some options for you:
- Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT): Estrogen can be administered via pills, a patch, or topical gels/creams/sprays. * Please consult your doctor on the best option for you.
- Acupuncture: This is a great option for women who would prefer not to administer hormones.
- In a Danish study led by the department of public health at the University of Copenhagen, 80 percent (of 70 menopausal women in the study) who underwent acupuncture said they felt the treatment had helped reduce their menopause symptoms over the course of five weeks.
- Herbal Remedies: Black Cohosh (Estroven is an over the counter supplement that contains Black Cohash), Red Clover, Dong Quai, Ginseng, Kava and Evening Primrose Oil are all known to relieve menopausal symptoms. As always, please do your research before using any of these herbs.
Environmentally, there are also some steps you can take to get a better night of sleep:
- Use cooling pillows
- Have a few layers of blankets that you can strip back if needed instead of one big heavy blanket
- Take note of which foods lead to hot flashes and sleep issues, like caffeine or spicy foods.
- Meditate before bed or find a way of deeply relaxing before you actually go to sleep. Stress is often directly correlated with sleep issues.
Finally, embracing and accepting menopause as a natural progression of life should greatly relieve your anxiety and reduce the intensity of the physical symptoms. The mind is a powerful tool!
Recommended reading: The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup and The Menopause Book by Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert