Most women know that once they go through menopause, their sleep habits may change. Insomnia is an incredibly common menopause problem. As you go through the change of life, sleeping problems can start in perimenopause and extend all the way through menopause. Usually, once you’ve been menopausal for a couple of years, your sleep patterns adjust to your lower hormones, and you’re able to sleep again. However, some women in postmenopause continue to suffer from insomnia.
So, what’s going on?
We’ve discussed a lot about how menopause affects your hypothalamus. The issue of being able to sleep through the night has to do with how balanced your hypothalamus is because it controls your day-night cycles. It tells your pineal gland when to make melatonin, and wakes you up in the morning with bursts of dopamine. When your hypothalamus becomes out of sync because your estrogen and progesterone levels have fallen, your day-night cycles can get out of whack. It’s very difficult to fall asleep, and more so, to stay asleep. You don’t go into that deep REM sleep, and you’re easily woken.
Once you’re in postmenopause if you’ve decided not to take any bioidentical hormones, what can you do about menopausal insomnia? At this point, your melatonin levels have dropped pretty significantly. Low doses of melatonin can help you to get deeper sleep. You don’t have to take melatonin forever. You can actually help reset your circadian rhythm by taking melatonin for about three weeks, and then slowly weaning off of it.
It’s critical that you practice good sleep hygiene.
Getting up in the middle of the night to urinate, turning on all the lights, then not being able to fall back asleep, is not the best way to reset your circadian rhythm. This happens throughout the change of life, and especially in the postmenopausal period. You should not be exposed to any light at night, because it disrupts your melatonin production drastically. Your body is incredibly sensitive to light, so exposing yourself to any light at night will diminish your ability to make enough melatonin for you to sleep.
After dusk, it is imperative that you turn off all of those bright lights, especially screens. Read a book, play games, or do some crafts, but don’t use digital products. They will interfere with your melatonin production. If you must use a digital product or look at a screen, consider using blue-light-blocking glasses. At least your eyes won’t be exposed. When it’s time for sleep, be sure that your room is completely dark so you’re not exposed to any light at all.
A proper temperature is also very important in achieving deep sleep and avoid insomnia as a menopause problem.
Your room needs to be between 60 and 67 degrees. Any lower than that will make you feel chilly. But if it’s higher, those warmer temperatures will actually interfere with your sleep.
Make sure you have good adequate air circulation in the room. Some people like a fan blowing or a window open. If you’re very sensitive to sound, it can really help to use white noise to go into a deep sleep. There are many different white noises that can help you sleep, such as ocean waves, a babbling brook, falling rain, or chirping crickets. Find the sound that helps you relax, and play it all night long. That will make a huge difference.
In order to get a better night’s sleep and avoid these menopause problems, there are a few key rules to follow. No lights after dark, keep a proper room temperature, use white noise, and balance out your hypothalamus. All so you can reset your circadian rhythm and go into a deeper sleep.
Do these things to help reset your brain chemistry so that you have more energy in the morning. And better overall brain function.