Women’s Doc: How can I alleviate insomnia brought on by menopause?

My partner is just into menopause and has been experiencing a lot of problems sleeping at night. Are sleep problems inherent in menopause? What can she do about it?

Trouble sleeping is common during menopause, affecting up to 40 percent of women. For many it’s linked to hot flashes that interrupt REM sleep, but for others, estrogen deprivation affects the quality of sleep itself.

We all can handle an occasional sleepless night; but when it becomes an ongoing problem, it can wreak havoc on our lives. Sleep gives our brains a chance to rest and recharge. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood swings, anxiety, even depression. It also affects how well we function during the day, making it difficult to meet responsibilities of work and family.

There are herbal sleep remedies, over-the-counter aids, and even prescription medications for insomnia. And many women in menopause find that estrogen helps almost overnight. It reduces hot flashes and also leads to more restful sleep.

Simple lifestyle changes can do a lot for a good nights’ sleep. For starters, limit caffeine and alcohol — they’re both likely to keep you awake or disrupt your sleep. Next, exercise daily. You’ll feel better and sleep better. Since exercise is invigorating, be sure you’re finished at least three hours before bedtime. Avoid eating or drinking a lot of water right before bed — it can make it harder to fall asleep or make a trip to the bathroom later on more likely.

Keep your bedroom cool and dark so it’s easier to sleep. Cotton sheets are a good idea during menopause to handle perspiration. And keep several layers on your bed — it’s easier to pull them on and off as needed. Have a routine to help slow down the pace before bed. Relax with a warm bath, a massage or back rub, a cup of warm milk or chamomile tea, or try meditation. Choose a regular time for sleep and stick with it.

Fortunately, insomnia usually ends within a few months. Share this with your partner — I hope it helps.

The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

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