Certain stages of life bring change with them. Typically these changes can affect everything from mood to physical ability and even sleep. When it comes to menopause and sleep, how will this stage of life impact you? Below we will go through more details about what to expect with menopause. Including how it may change your sleep cycle, schedule and even your preferred bedding and mattress. As well as a few helpful tips and suggestions to get through those pesky hot flashes and potentially interrupted sleep.
What is Menopause
A lot of the symptoms commonly associated with Menopause typically occur during the 1-2 year transition between pre and post menopause, which is called the Perimenopausal stage. Once a woman has reached menopause, which is defined as when you have gone a full 12 months without a cycle, she will no longer experience these uncomfortable symptoms. It is during Perimenopause that the majority of symptoms are at their worst.
Potential Causes of Premature Menopause
While Menopause is a natural hormonal change that happens in the body through age, sometimes there are other factors that can trigger the hormonal shift early.
- Extremely Low Body Mass Index
- Turner Syndrome
- Anything that causes excessive damage to the ovaries or that extremely lowers the amount of estrogen in the body.
In films and television Menopause is usually depicted by a woman struggling with mood swings and sweating profusely through a hot flash.
While hot flashes are a very common symptom, there are other symptoms that can occur as well. The symptoms vary widely in type and severity between women.
- Irregular or skipped periods
- Mood swings
- Hot Flashes
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
- Changes in libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Bladder control issues
- Racing heart
How Menopause Can Affect Sleep
With that extensive list of potential symptoms it is easy to see how sleeping can be made difficult while you’re going through menopause. Especially with hot flashes, typically our core body temperature lowers in order to send us off to sleep.
When your estrogen level lowers, the hypothalamus believes the internal body temperature is too high and sends signals to the rest of the body to cool down. When triggers the hot flash. These can range from low levels of discomfort to making it feel impossible to get any sleep.
Included in the list of potential symptoms is also insomnia. Allowing your very structured sleep schedule and sleep cycle to be interrupted. Causing you even more issues to face while sleeping. All of these symptoms can put a whole new level of stress on you physically, mentally and emotionally. Making sleep and menopause a battle that is best faced with a plan of attack.
Readjusting Your Sleep Schedule
When it comes to facing sleep and menopause you may just need to have some patience and understanding. It isn’t called “the change” for nothing. So, realizing that what once felt so familiar and easy, like your typical sleep schedule, now may be needing a readjustment to better suite your needs.
If you are faced with insomnia, depression or other issues consider shifting to a Biphasic sleep schedule. This pattern of sleep is certainly known to help insomniacs, as well as anyone who finds themselves waking up in the middle of the night with issues falling back asleep. Embracing this new routine may allow you to not only take advantage of your new schedule but also benefit you for controlling your hot flashes too.
By sleeping in two shifts per say, opposed to one large chunk of time, allows you to get some water, change into dry clothes if needed and even allow you bedding and mattress to cool down for your second phase of sleep. Though we could look at this as a drawback, it could be a wonderful opportunity to find a new routine that not only helps with your sleep, but also clear your mind too.
Natural Remedies For Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are by far the most common and most disturbing side effect of menopause and sleep. While only time can fully treat hot flashes, there are some things you can avoid and also some remedies that will help to relieve your hot flashes and hopefully help you sleep better. Avoid tobacco smoke, tight clothing, alcohol, and spicy food. In order to relieve your hot flashes try some of the following actions to experience less hot flashes overall.
Make sure when you do this that you are getting your heart rate up and that you are getting in a good sweat. This cardiovascular activity will help to relieve stress and better regulate body temperature throughout the day.
Eat Foods Containing Plant Estrogen
It is quick dips in estrogen that causes hot flashes in the first place. By eating foods like soy beans, that are naturally high in plant estrogen you can potentially temporarily increase your estrogen level. All in order to bring a balance back to your system as it slowly lowers in estrogen levels overall.
Stress can also trigger hot flashes. If you take a few minutes to focus on relieving stress and breathing deeply, you will increase your oxygen levels and it can help relieve that stress. Which will in turn help to relieve your hot flash. When you begin to experience a hot flash, try to take a good 5-10 minute break and focus on breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth. Deep breathing can also help your get to sleep.
Over The Counter Vitamins and Medicine
There are some medicines that can help relieve temporary symptoms like hot flashes. Including ibuprofen (naturally lowers inflammation), E Vitamins, B Vitamins, and Calcium are all said to bring relief if taken regularly
Hormone Replacement Therapy
While this is a more extreme remedy, it helps with the majority of menopausal symptoms. Many woman can get through the symptoms without turning to hormone replacement therapy, but others need that extra help. This is more commonly used for younger women who are going through early menopause.
Products to Help Sleep Cooler
Sometimes all you want is some quick relief from your hot flash in order to cool down and get to sleep. Or to stay cool in order to stay asleep. Below are a few tips and products to help you sleep cooler throughout the night.
Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow
This is one of our favorite pillows for sleeping cool throughout the night. Specially designed to stay cool all night, you’re going to love this pillow. With great support ideal for all sleeping positions. Check out this cool memory foam pillow at BrooklynBedding.com.
Extra Large Therapeutic Ice Pack
More than just a bag full of ice. These thin extra large gel ice packs are perfect for sleeping. Large enough to bring relief and cover your entire back. Also easy to use around your feet, or even slipped into your pillow case for an extra chilly pillow.
Freezable Eye Mask
Awesome for cooling you down with the added benefit of relieving puffy under eyes. We love the Ariel Edge Plush Eye Mask because it has a soft plush side up against your skin. So it is soft and comfortable to wear while sleeping.
Best Mattress For Sleeping Cool
If you visit our mattress guide for Best Mattresses For Hot Sleepers, you will find the Brooklyn Aurora mattress at the top of the list, closely followed by the all natural Avocado Mattress. If you need help sleeping cool, these are our top two mattress suggestions for you.
Essential Oils For Menopause
Essential oils are a great tool to use in order to get some temporary relief from your menopause symptoms. Clary sage, peppermint, and eucalyptus are all great for relieving hot flashes. While Lavender, Basil, and Geranium are all said to help balance your hormone levels. Check out the Cliganic Essential Oils set, they make organic and quality essential oils that we love.
Comfort, soft, cool sheets are sure to help you sleep a bit more soundly. When going through menopause your skin tends to become a bit more sensitive which is why we suggest the oh so wonderful Wharf Tencel Sheets by Eli & Elm. These are exactly what you need, silky soft and gentle against the skin, while also staying nice and cool all night long.
Before you head to bed, pour yourself a large glass of ice water. We love using a large insulated tumbler like the ones by RTIC because they will keep your water ice cold throughout the night. So if you wake up in the middle of the night, your water will still be nice and cold, without leaving drippy condensation all over your nightstand either.
Open Weave Blankets
Hot, but still like the feeling of a blanket? Try the thick, open weave Napper Blanket. The weight will help to relieve stress, depression and anxiety, while the open weave design and cool materials will help to keep you cool. Did we mention that it is also adorable?
Turn Down The Thermostat
This is likely the very first thing you think to do. Now while you might be tempted to turn your house into an igloo, try to keep the temperature between 66 to 69 degrees. This is the prime sleeping temperature and while you may still feel warm, this is a good temperature for you and anyone else who may be sleeping in your home.
Menopause and Sleep: Final Thoughts
Sleeping through the night with hot flashes can be a big pain in the rear end. Thankfully there are plenty of different ways to stay cool and stay asleep through the night. If you feel your symptoms are leaning toward the more severe end, we suggest you reach out to your doctor and let them know. There may be more they can do for you beside what we have suggested. However, we hope that our suggestions help you get to sleep and stay asleep through the night even with your symptoms.