Impact of Sleep on Menopause

It’s no secret that sleep is critical throughout every stage of our lives, and it can impact people differently based on numerous factors. This is partially why a sufficient amount of sleep can be so hard to manage on a daily basis.

The quality of sleep can also vary for different reasons between men and women, with some having a harder time than others due to human biology and individual changes in our health. For this article, we’re going to specifically focus on the impact of sleep on menopause.

How Can Sleep Affect Menopause?

Women’s bodies are already undergoing an immense change through menopause, each day seeming like a rollercoaster for the body and mind. It’s relatively common to experience a lack of quality sleep throughout menopause, and it could pertain to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, as well as waking up feeling rested (1).

Menopause tends to occur later in life, around the age of 50 for most women. This stage in life can make it difficult to sleep for many different reasons, and menopause only makes that more challenging. Prior to menopause, women’s estrogen and progesterone levels start to decline, which span a timeframe of about seven to ten years (2). These hormonal changes alone can drastically affect the quality of sleep one gets, and it can feel like a snowball effect that only worsens over the years.

As every woman’s body and health are different, menopause can come with varying effects and symptoms on the body. Not only can menopause cause a lack of sleep, but it can also induce hot flashes, mood disorders, and even sleep-disordered breathing (3). Some women may experience a few or none of these symptoms at all, but they’re pretty common overall. 

Menopause Affects Sleep In Different Ways

The decline in estrogen and progesterone in women’s bodies is a huge catalyst in the physical and mental changes they’re experiencing. As the female body eventually stops producing both hormones entirely, it can bring changes to their health that directly and indirectly affect their sleep.

When the body lacks progesterone, it’s possible to experience breathing challenges, which can lead to sleep apnea and other sleep-related complications (4). It’s also common for women to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are widely known to make sleep significantly more difficult for many people. 

Of course, many of the symptoms related to menopause can be managed, so it doesn’t have to feel like an assault on the body all day long. There are a handful of lifestyle changes that women can make that can have a positive effect on their sleep schedule. Since everyone’s body varies and reacts differently to such changes, it’s best to try a few methods to discover what’s optimal for your body and preferences. 

Techniques to Improve Your Quality of Sleep

Even if you have to face the challenges of menopause, there are many techniques women can use to their advantage to improve their sleep. One of the best ways to combat the tireless symptoms of menopause is to create a consistent workout routine. Exercising can help women stay asleep throughout the night as the body is exhausted and simply needs to gain that energy back for the day ahead (5).

Women going through menopause often rely on natural options such as dietary supplements and acupuncture to help relieve symptoms.* Other solutions such as hormone replacement therapy and SSRI, and OTC medications may have additional unwanted side effects. 

Women can also adjust their daily schedules, which influences a healthy sleep schedule. Some of these include taking a warm bath in the evening, increasing bright light exposure during the day, and developing sleep rituals before bedtime that relax the body and mind (6). There are also many habits women should stay away from at this time in their life as they can have a negative effect on their sleep patterns, such as drinking alcohol, ingesting caffeine, or eating heavy meals in the evening.

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