Do you have problems with menopause and sleeping?

hrt perimenopause sleep Nov 26, 2022

Do you have problems with menopause and sleeping? 

In this blog I'll be explaining WHY our sleep is affected in peri-menopause and sharing my 7 top tips to help you sleep better.

One of the most common conversations that I hear amongst the people that I work with is that they wish they could get a decent night's sleep.

Do you remember years ago  when you had a little tiny baby, and your world revolved around how much food you could get into this baby because how much food you got into the baby equated to how much sleep you were getting.

And our conversations as young mums revolved around how many ounces or how many minutes did you feed, for how many hours sleep.

The great obsession with did he or she sleep through the night.

Then many years after, things sorted themselves out, we get back to getting more sleep, and then when they are teenagers and you can’t get them up!

Now suddenly it is all about our sleep and whether we are getting the right amount of sleep. The kind of sleep we are getting has a massive effect on how you are feeling at this midlife stage.


What causes sleep problems during the menopause?

There are a number of reasons why women notice sleep disturbance during peri-menopause and menopause, mostly due to the home fluctuations than cause other symptoms. 

As Oestrogen and Progesterone levels drop we often notice some, or all, of these symptoms

  • Find it harder to switch off and go to sleep
  • Waking up in the night hot and wet - some women need to change their bedclothes and sheets.
  • Waking up cold and shivery - probably because you have had a night sweat and are now damp and cold as a result.
  • Finding it hard to stay asleep 
  • An increased need to get up in the night to visit the toilet
  • Waking up feeling like you haven't slept at all.


Menopause and sleep issues - why is sleep so important?

Well, of course, you cannot function without sleep. You cannot go to work, you cannot do what you need to do, in fact for many of us, if you have not had enough sleep it can be quite dangerous depending on what your type of work you do.

If you have not got the cognitive function to make decisions, if you are physically or mentally exhausted, this is going to have a massive effect on how you function in your day-to-day life.

From the midlife woman's point of view, not having enough sleep can play havoc with your hormones. Unfortunately, when your hormones are going up and down, that can play havoc with your sleep - so, it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. It makes sense to understand that to feel better and more vibrant as a midlife woman, you have got to start somewhere - sleep is one of the first places that you can start with.


Sleep is linked to hormone balance

First, you need to understand that if you sleep better, you are much more likely to make decent and sensible food choices. Your Leptin and Ghrelin hormones have an influence and can go up and down; Ghrelin says I am hungry, Leptin says I am full. 

If you do not have enough sleep, those hormones, instead of being exactly where they are and not making you desperate for any kind of food, get all out of whack and make you want, want, want!

It makes sense to know that if you get enough sleep, then your hormones are going to be stable, and you are not going to make the wrong food choices. 


Here are seven handy tips to help you with regards to midlife sleep.

Some of them may be useful, some of them may be something you already know, some maybe you just need a reminder of and maybe some of them you did not know….

1. Read a book NOT a screen.

First, and I know that many women across the world, or certainly the modern world, are guilty of this. No screens for one to two hours before bedtime, that is no iPad in bed, no Chromebook. I have got a shiny new Chromebook that needs all sorts of passwords added to it, and it’s very tempting to take it to bed with me and think I will just do that; you must not you must think NO screens before bed.

There are two reasons for this, one has been slightly disproven:

The first is that the blue light that is emitted from a screen affects our sleep or melatonin and the depth or level of our sleep, but there has been a study that said that that is not true. Also, you can get these rather strange glasses that you put on which filter out the blue light.

I think more importantly that when you are reading something on a screen, particularly if it is social media, your brain is still getting that dopamine fix from, and saying ‘Oh, I've got some notification’, Oh, Let's see where so and so is on holiday.’ ‘Oh, somebody has written me an email. Oh gosh, I have got to reply to it. ‘

Instead of calming down and doing something that is getting your brain ready for sleep, you are staying in this hypersensitive hyperaware state.

2. Avoid late night exercise

Many of the people that I speak to can only exercise in the evening because they are working full time during the day, so once they have dragged themselves out of the office, they put their kit on and work out in the evening, which is fantastic.

Unfortunately, there is a negative side to this if you have difficulty sleeping because you get hot inside if you do a big workout, which can affect your ability to get a decent night sleep. Please do not stop exercising, but if you are an evening exerciser, when you come home after you have exercised have a warm bath. The effect of a warm bath, from the warm water on your skin, is such that the centre of your body cools and you are more likely to get a decent night's sleep.

If you can combine that evening bath with Epsom salts, you are going to get an added hit of magnesium, which is also fantastic for helping us sleep. Then, when you get yourself into your bedroom, having turned off your screens had your warm bath… then head to your cool room.

3. Have a chilly bedroom room - if you dare!

Having a cool bedroom is important. The rest of the house is for our day-to-day life, and I do like my house warm. But your bedroom should be cool. So even if you just crack the window open in the winter months enough to get some cool air in, it will help.

Ditch any kind of polyester nightwear, some people I know go to bed with nothing on at all. Whatever you wear, make sure it is cotton, bamboo, natural fibres so that you are not going to end up being very, very sweaty. Possibly it may be time to go down a tog or two on your duvet. I know you can get different duvets for the winter and summer and ones that click summer and winter together so keeping you ultra warm. Maybe you have always had that duvet, now is the time to look at going down a tog or two.

Some people, particularly those of you who live in tropical hot countries, may choose to have an air-cooling fan above your head or perhaps a fan beside your bed.

I mentioned magnesium from Epsom salt, magnesium topically on your body is particularly good for aches and pains. You can get magnesium sprays and magnesium creams. Magnesium is an Epson salt bath is also a good idea. Magnesium-rich foods a great too, so that is your green leafy vegetables, tail broccoli, cabbage nuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts. Some fish is good to have as it is high in magnesium. So do look up some magnesium-rich foods and think, ‘oh yeah, I can put that into my diet’. It’s not going to change overnight, but if you add all these things together, they make a difference.

We have done the screens, we have done the bath, we have done the cool, and magnesium, and thinking about your brain ability to switch off at night.

4. Write down those last minute thoughts.

If you are the sort of person who is thinking, right tomorrow I have got to do that…. Then it can be a good idea to have a little notepad by your bed and do a last-minute to-do list. There is something about taking that out of your brain, putting it onto a piece of paper and thinking, ‘Right, that is great, that is consigned to that piece of paper, I am not going to wake up in the night thinking, oh, my gosh, I did not do that.’

5. Put yourself to be like a toddler.

The other thing that helps your brain switch off is your daily dose of calm. Now, whether that is a yoga class that you go to, or a Pilates class, that perhaps is part of your weekly exercise routine (both of these are good if you can go every day, but I should suspect this is not possible unless you are a teacher).

You need to do something daily for your dose of calm. You need to find a few minutes holidays somewhere in the middle of your day, one minute, two minutes, quiet and calm. Standing by a tree outside, maybe standing in a dark room or lying down on your sofa just completely quiet. Something to totally switch you off.

The same bedtime every night helps too, and get up at the same time every morning. Even when you are on holiday, there is a lot of research that says if you take the time to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day, your sleep in the long term will be much better.

6. Avoid the booze

 Alcohol does not help midlife woman get a decent night's sleep. Yes, you might feel very chilled and calm, but the toxins from the alcohol are going to make your liver work much harder, as a result, you are likely to wake up feeling hot and flushed in the middle of the night or potentially having palpitations. Ditch the alcohol if you possibly can, or maybe just reduce it.

 7. Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy

Finally, HRT, hormone replacement therapy, generally is made from yams. It is often plant-based. And if you are somebody who is considering HRT wondering if it is going to make a huge difference to your life, then do go and ask questions or pop on here and ask about HRT. For many people is a bridge to get them from A to B, for some people it is something that they start, and oh my gosh, their life feels so much better. It is not something to be feared like people used to think. 

If these tips have been helpful, you might find my FREE online 7 day Menopause Course useful too - you'll get one video to watch each day in your own time -, start today by signing up HERE


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