Menopausal transition or perimenopause is an essential stage in women’s health in Payson. Usually, women experience the shift during their 40s but can start earlier, depending on some medical factors. During this period, the ovaries slowly begin to produce lesser amounts of estrogen and progesterone. As it signals the end of the periodic menstrual cycle, it marks the start of physiological and emotional changes in women.
The transition is characterized by menstrual irregularity and changes in the amount and duration of menstrual flow. Some women undergoing menopause transition experience overwhelming sadness and feelings of discomfort. While every woman experiences different symptoms during the menopausal period, most of them complain of sleep disturbances during the transition.
Hormones and Sleep
61% of women in their menopausal period report symptoms of insomnia. It is also common for them to snore severely, which is a sign of a chronic sleep disorder. During menopause, the ovaries are no longer able to produce sufficient levels of progesterone and estrogen. This hormonal decline causes hot flashes accompanied by sweating, which leads to disrupted sleep. Even when their total sleep time is not affected, the quality of their sleep suffers.
Estrogen greatly protects women’s overall health, including sleep. It aids the body in using serotonin and increases the quality of sleep and decreases awakenings during the night.The dramatic fluctuation of estrogen can cause joint aches, muscle pains, and bladder problems, which can disturb sleep.Progesterone is a calming hormone that induces sleep because of its mild sedative effect. It helps relax the nervous system and reduces anxiety.
Progesterone does not only have a hypnotic effect, but it acts as a potent respiratory stimulant that enables you to breathe during sleep. Sufficient progesterone levels decrease the number of sleep apnea episodes, and the sudden drop in its production can cause feelings of anxiety and depression, which results in early morning awakenings and next-day fatigue.
What can you do
- Avoid long naps in the late afternoon. Napping at the wrong time and longer duration will cause sleep inertia or feeling of being disoriented and dizzy. It will also interfere with your nigh-time sleep and worsen your insomnia. If you love siestas, it is best to get 15-20 minutes of a nap in the early afternoon.
- Put away your phone and avoid watching television during bedtime. The light from electronic devices alters your body clock, disrupts the production of melatonin, and keeps you up at night.
- Exercise regularly, but avoid physical activities close to bedtime.
- Avoid eating large meals before bedtime. Indigestion will make it difficult for you to stay asleep.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially late in the day. Alcohol can initially induce sleep, but it acts as a stimulant after. It will increase awakenings and decrease the quality of your sleep.
Menopause only ends your fertility, but it doesn’t reduce your quality of life. Minor lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy sleep cycle will give you renewed energy and make your post-menopausal years more relaxed and comfortable.