Insomnia and the Menopause: Sleepless Nights

Insomnia during the menopause is when we don’t get a suitable amount of sleep, long term. Perhaps we take longer to fall asleep, frequently get fewer than six hours of sleep, or consistently wake up earlier than usual. Maybe you’re unable to feel fully rested or recharged after a nights sleep and so feel fatigued during the day. Added to this is constant pressure to improve your sleep at night. All of these things, repeated over time, constitute as insomnia.

Why is insomnia more common during the menopause?

The reason insomnia is so common during menopause is because progesterone is a sleep-inducing hormone, so if we are producing less during the menopause, our sleep will become disrupted. Combined with fluctuating oestrogen levels, it can often contribute to some significant changes with regard to how we function in life, particularly when it comes to sleeping patterns. 

Hot flushes and night sweats may also be on the rise during menopause and when we experience such intense surges of body heat, it can cause the body to produce extra adrenaline. Adrenaline is the same hormone that's released during high-stress situations and can leave you feeling alert – not ideal for night time! Also, the medicine or supplements we take during the menopause can sometimes have a side effect of disturbing our sleep patterns.

What does insomnia do to my body?

Over time, sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on our general health. Inconsistent sleep patterns can leave us feeling anxious, irritable, stressed and can alter concentration levels, focus and memory recall. This can lead us prone to errors and accidents, frequent headaches and gut health issues.

What can help with my insomnia?

If you are experiencing insomnia, the most important gift your body can receive from you is making time to listen to it. As we age, our body’s needs evolve. Perhaps your sleeping routine may need adjusting according to what your internal clock is demanding of you. It might be a good time to address old habits i.e. staying up late or getting up very early.

Popular remedies to try for insomnia:

  • Make sure your room is a calm sanctuary for sleep
  • Try not to use electrical devices before bedtime or have them near you during sleep
  • Avoid caffeine, cigarettes or alcohol so your body isn't overloaded with adrenaline
  • Avoid any foods that cause you digestive discomfort at night
  • Embrace relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises
  • Stay hydrated to keep your energy levels up during the daytime
  • Infuse some calming essential oils into your sleeping environment
  • Surrender to power naps as and when they work for you
  • Try a natural melatonin supplement
  • Sip on some chamomile tea before bedtime, or any herbal tea with relaxing properties
If you're really struggling to sleep or feel that you need some extra help with your menopausal symptoms, do seek advice from your GP or health practitioner.