Hormone changes and hot flashes during menopause can disrupt your sleep patterns. You may have been a sound-sleeper for your whole life; a few years before menopause you could start waking up or cannot ever seem to doze off. Pregnancy and menstruation may have triggered sleep issues in the past, but menopausal sleep problems are usually at a whole other level. Hot flashes pile on even more sleep troubles, as well as some health risks.
Hormones and hot flashes:
During menopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone, two hormones, the latter of which helps with sleep. A drop in progesterone disrupts your sleep habits; less estrogen also makes you more susceptible to stress. Research has also discovered links between menopause and risk of sleep apnea.
Even if you are sleeping soundly, hot flashes may wake you up in the middle of the night. Adrenaline levels rise during hot flashes, and it will be hard to get back to sleep until that adrenaline quiets down.
What you can do:
Hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills can help keep your estrogen levels at a better equilibrium; other than that, there are not too many medical options for your changing hormones. Many women use acupuncture, shiatsu massage and yoga to fight off sleep-disrupting hot flashes and reduce stress, which in turn promotes healthier sleep patterns.
When a hot flash wakes you up in the night, mindfulness meditation can help lower your adrenaline and get you back to dozing. Focus on your breathing, inhale and exhale at regular intervals and use relaxing mental imagery, like sunny beaches or quiet forests. That will help you ride out the ups-and-downs of menopause and stay well rested and energized.
Do you have frequent hot flashes? The Segal Institute’s clinical research study on hot flashes is coming to a close next week! Space is limited, so register today!