Somewhere in your 50s, your body slows down its production of estrogen and progesterone. Called perimenopause, this is the period that leads up to menopause, which is official when you’ve gone 12 months without a period. This gradual decrease in hormones triggers some unwelcome changes, and you’re probably familiar with most of them — hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings are the most notorious.
But you may also experience sleep problems associated with peri- and post-menopause that dramatically impact your quality of life.
At Daniel Estevez, MD, in Lawrenceville, Georgia, our team offers treatments that rebalance your hormones and get your sleep cycle back under control. Here’s what you need to know about how menopause affects your sleep and what you can do about it.
How common are menopause-related sleep problems?
Every woman experiences menopause differently, and you may have some, all, or none of the classic symptoms. However, because perimenopause can last 7-10 years, and menopause lasts the rest of your life, you’re likely to face at least one or two of the effects.
In general, women have a tough time grabbing quality Zs. Up to age 39, about 12% of women have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. When they reach their 40s and 50s, about 40% report poor quality sleep, and the onset of menopause exacerbates the problem.
Menopause-related sleep issues
The hormone shift you go through when you hit menopause brings on physical, mental, and emotional changes, so you need to keep your body healthy and strong to cope with symptoms. Unfortunately, menopause can rob you of valuable shut-eye, thwarting your efforts to tamp down the hormonal side effects. Here are a few of the most common menopause-related sleep issues.
Can’t fall asleep
Insomnia can occur for many reasons, but if you’re a woman in your 50s, the likely culprit is menopause. In fact, 61% of women in this stage of life can’t get to sleep or stay asleep due to their declining hormone production.
Even if you fall asleep easily, you may have insomnia if you don’t sleep through the night or consistently wake up too early.
Most women are familiar with the hot flashes that come with menopause — those unbearable moments when it feels like someone lit an internal furnace in your body.
When hot flashes happen at night, they can trigger profuse sweating that soaks your pajamas and sheets. These episodes, appropriately called night sweats, raise your core body temperature, amp up your adrenaline production, and give you a kick of energy that makes it hard to fall back asleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common and dangerous sleep disorder that affects millions of people. It occurs when the soft tissues in your mouth and throat relax, collapse, and block your airway while you sleep.
Research shows that women in perimenopause are 21% more likely to develop OSA than their younger counterparts and 31% more likely once they enter menopause. Studies suggest that low progesterone may be responsible for the relaxation of the upper airways and, therefore, the reason behind the increased incidence of OSA in menopausal women.
If your legs feel like they need to get up and go just about the time your head hits the pillow, you’re not alone. Many women develop restless legs syndrome (RLS) — an uncontrollable urge to move your legs — when they enter menopause. Females are already predisposed to the condition, especially as they age, but changing hormone levels adds yet another risk factor.
Researchers report that the fluctuation in your hormones rather than their specific level makes you more susceptible to RLS. Whatever the cause, the result is the same — you miss out on quality sleep.
How to sleep better with menopause
At Daniel Estevez, MD, we know that your health hinges on quality sleep, so we offer hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to rebalance your hormones and help you get some shut-eye. We customize the formula, dose, and delivery method to match your needs and desires.
To find out if you’re a good candidate for HRT to improve your sleep and control your other menopause symptoms, call or click to reach our team at Daniel Estevez, MD, today.