Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just about feeling awake and refreshed the next day. Good-quality sleep is also important for your physical and emotional wellness, helping you avoid sickness and stabilize your mood.
The problem: Many Americans don’t get the sleep they need to support optimal health and wellness. Worse, if you’re near or in menopause, quality sleep can be even more difficult to come by.
At her Santa Monica, California practice, Tristan E. Bickman, MD offers compassionate menopause care focused on each woman’s unique needs and symptoms. In this post, learn how menopause might be affecting your sleep and what you can do to improve your sleep — and your health.
Menopause and sleep
During menopause, your levels of estrogen and progesterone decline dramatically. This drop in hormone levels ushers in other changes, many of which can be unpleasant. Some of those changes affect your sleep habits and the quality of your sleep.
For many women, a decrease in female “sex hormones” causes nighttime symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats, making it hard to maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature. Irritability and other mood-related changes can make it more difficult to drift off.
Menopause also increases the risk of developing sleep apnea, a chronic condition that interrupts your breathing hundreds of times a night. Plus, women in menopause spend less time in REM sleep, the phase of sleep that helps you get deep, restorative rest.
The decline in progesterone and estrogen affect the production of some other hormones, too. Specifically, both estrogen and progesterone affect the amount of melatonin your body produces. Melatonin is a natural chemical that helps you relax and unwind. When levels drop, you can find it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
At the same time, levels of cortisol tend to increase thanks to menopausal changes. Sometimes called the “stress hormone,” cortisol plays a role in the fight-or-flight response, and it also helps us stay awake and alert. The stress of dealing with other menopause symptoms can also increase your levels of cortisol.
Taking steps to improve your sleep
Often, the first step toward improving your sleep lies in improving your lifestyle habits. That means eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and learning stress management techniques. These steps can help reduce other menopause symptoms and improve your overall wellness, too.
You can also support good sleep habits by optimizing your sleep environment. Set a regular sleep schedule and keep your room cool and dark. Keep electronics out of your bedroom, and develop bedtime rituals, like reading before bed or taking a warm, relaxing bath.
Finally, for women who need additional help in keeping menopause symptoms at bay, Dr. Bickman frequently recommends hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT uses bioidentical hormones — chemicals that are identical to the hormones your body produces naturally.
HRT replaces some of the hormones your body no longer produces, improving a broad array of unpleasant menopause symptoms, including sleep. HRT is prescribed and dosed on an individual basis, and regular checkups ensure your therapy remains optimized for you.
Custom care for your unique needs
Menopause can definitely present challenges for women, including problems with sleep. To learn how we can help, call 310-587-9280 or book an appointment online with Dr. Bickman today.