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How hormones interact with sleep

Part 1 — Menopause

From the average menopausal age of 50 and up, women experience an array of hormonal, physical, and emotional symptoms that affect their daily lives. As menopause progresses, many women tend to experience sleeplessness. Things like hot flashes, mood disorders and other hormonal changes, these symptoms could may be what's keeping you from getting a good night's sleep. Lack of sleep may lead to stress, anxiety and other problems that can further hinder your sleeping habits.

Here are some facts and solutions that may help women going through menopause to cope with sleeping issues.

According to The National Sleep Foundation in an article on Menopause and Sleep, women report the most sleeping problems from peri-menopause (the stage leading up to menopause) to post-menopause. The article states that post-menopausal women are less satisfied with their sleep and as many as 61% report insomnia symptoms.

So what specifically about menopause is causing disrupted sleep?

Hot flashes.

Unexpected flashes of heat in the body usually start at the face and spread to the chest and other areas of the body causing body temperature to rise and wake you up out of sleep. They normally last around three minutes, notes The National Sleep Foundation. While total sleep time may not suffer, sleep quality does.

Stress, anxiety, and mood changes

related to menopause may also keep women awake at night. If you go to bed unhappy or stressed about the day, your job, a relationship, or anything else you can't get off your mind, it may have a major impact on your sleep.

WebMD and The National Sleep Foundation provide some simple ways to help with these problems and get you back into your normal sleeping habits.

  • Wear loose, light clothing to bed
  • Keep your bedroom cool and well-ventilated
  • Reduce stress and worry; try relaxation techniques, exercise, and massages
  • Avoid certain foods (like spicy foods), too much caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Maintain a regular bedtime schedule and avoid naps throughout the day
  • Talk to your doctor about treatments like Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
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