Are you Sleepless in Seattle? Does Disney’s Sleeping Beauty make you hostile? Does the sight of a blissfully snoozing infant make you weep? Do memories of teenage sleepathons that last 12 hours make you misty with nostalgia? Take heart, you’ve got a lot of company.
Insomnia is a problem many women encounter when they enter perimenopause. I have always been a very busy, multitasking kind of person, who worked hard in the daytime and slept hard at night (including falling asleep mid-conversation, but we don’t need to get into that). All of a sudden in my forties, not only was I having trouble sleeping, but multitasking became more difficult, too. My focus and memory kept failing me. I felt like an alien had taken over my body and I was no longer in control. My insomnia was getting the best of my... what was I just about to say?
If you’re suffering through insomnia, you are not alone. Only 45 percent of peri-menopausal women report getting a good night’s sleep almost every night, says the National Sleep Foundation. Hormones connect your brain and body. When they change, the way your brain and body function does, too. Progesterone is a very important hormone for sleep, but progesterone levels drop when you enter perimenopause, making your body chemically less capable of sleeping well.
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) lists trouble falling asleep as one of their main five symptoms of menopause. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), most women complain of sleeplessness during perimenopause to post-menopause, with about 61 percent of post-menopausal women having issues with insomnia.
A study conducted in 2013 by scientists at the University of California San Francisco found a lack of sleep can put adults at risk for a variety of chronic health issues. A report published in Harvard University’s Harvard Women’s Health Watch in 2006 says adults who sleep less than six hours a night can suffer from such issues as memory loss, poor cardiovascular health, irritability, and problems with their metabolism and weight.
Here are four tips to help you get back in touch with Mr. Sandman:
1. Get Moving
To get a good night’s sleep, you may have to move your body more during the day. Menopausal women who had more leisure physical activity during the day reported rating their sleep as good. Those same women who did household physical activity during the day--like vacuuming and mopping--found they were sleeping through the night more.
2. Just Relax
While you are lathering yourself in your latest and greatest wrinkle reducing moisturizer, think about preparing yourself for sleep, too. Before you hit the sack, try some tricks to help relax your body and get you in the sleeping mode. For example, do something calming like reading a book while sipping some chamomile tea, enjoying a candlelight bath, or just closing your eyes and listening to some soft music. As it gets closer to sleep time, prepare your bedroom so there are no distractions--eliminate as much light and sound as possible, and definitely keep your bedroom a smart phone free zone (phone sex is permitted). In fact, experts suggest you turn off all the electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
3. Stay Cool
Hot flashes can be another reason why women in menopause have a hard time staying asleep. To help combat the heat, be prepared by wearing loose-fitting clothing to bed and by making sure your sleeping area is well ventilated.
4. Consider Hormone Therapy
An article published in Menopausal Medicine--the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine--says that studies have found HT helped menopausal women with sleeping issues, and helped them get more productive sleep. If sleeplessness is a major issue for you, this is an option you may want to discuss with your menopause specialist.
There’s no need to stumble through your day like an extra on The Walking Dead. Ditch your inner zombie and get your snooze back!
Get my FREE eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause here! Help me spread the word!
For Ellen Dolgen, menopause education is a mission. Spurred by her own experience struggling with the symptoms of menopause, Dolgen has devoted the last ten years of her life to helping other women during this often difficult time. While she’s not a doctor or scientist, she’s “talked the talk” with countless menopause experts, so that she can “walk the menopause walk” and share the keys to this menopause kingdom.
Together with her son, Jack, she created a FREE eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause, a comprehensive guide to all things menopause--the symptoms, the treatments, and the long-range effects on a woman’s health. Dolgen shares the expertise of numerous specialists to replace confusion and embarrassment with medically sound solutions, presented in an entertaining and informative way. There you will find detailed descriptions and treatments for the symptoms you or your loved one may experience, from hot flashes and mood swings to mental fogginess and loss of libido, and lots more in between.
In addition to sharing the latest research and proven treatments, Dolgen offers guidance to finding a menopause specialist who’s right for you, and she provides a clear explanation of what tests to ask for. You’ll also learn about the latest studies on hormone replacement as well as alternative therapies and remedies. Finally, Dolgen shares the real-life experiences of women--and those who love them--as they traverse the crazy ups and downs of perimenopause and menopause.
As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, EllenDolgen.com and her Menopause Mondays™ Blog was born.
In addition to Ellen’s ever-growing social media presence, EllenDolgen.com has fast become “the place” on the web for informative and entertaining women’s menopause and wellness engagement. Ellen has been #1 on Dr. Oz Sharecare.com Top 10 Social HealthMakers on Menopause. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, EllenDolgen.com / Menopause Mondays was named first on the list of the “Best Menopause Blogs” by Healthline. Ellen was honored to be asked to be one of the first regularly featured bloggers on HP50 and so began her syndication on many other health sites.
Ellen produces health and wellness programs for businesses, healthcare institutions, and other organizations. She facilitates Menopause Mondays Parties throughout the Country. Ellen chaired a social media roundtable for Novo Nordisk in 2012. In 2013, Ellen was a key spokesperson for GLAM™ (Great Life after Menopause), a non-branded campaign sponsored by Novo Nordisk. In 2015, Ellen partnered with Pfizer on a series of menopause videos with the fabulous award winning Kim Cattrall for their “Tune in to Menopause Campaign.”
Ellen has appeared on the “TODAY Show”, “TODAY Kathie Lee & Hoda”, “The Katie Show,” “NBC Nightly News”, “The Rachael Ray Show,” “The Doctors,” Oprah Radio, Playboy Radio, NPR’s “Tell Me More,” Doctor Radio, and dozens of regional and national media outlets. In 2011, she appeared in a production of “The Vagina Monologues.”
Ellen is the founder and president of Menopause Mondays and is a principal of Dolgen Ventures.