Compared to men, women report more insomnia and sleep disturbances. In a sleep poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, it was found that half of women reported waking up feeling unrefreshed. One cause for gender differences in sleep may be hormones.
Hormones affect your mood and sleep, especially as you age. Menopause is characterized by the onset of irregular and then absent menstrual periods. In fact, one of the initial indicators of menopause is often sleep disturbance. Frequent awakenings in the middle of the night are not uncommon in menopausal women. Sometimes this is worsened by night sweats. Over 50% of women over 50 years old report sleep disturbance whereas the prevalence is 20-25% for those in their twenties and thirties (Jehan et al., 2015).
The following tips could help menopausal women sleep more soundly:
1. Choose the Right Bedroom Environment:
Make sure your bedroom environment is quiet, dark, and comfortable. Your bed comforter and sheets should not be overly thick or made from warmer materials. You can even find cooling pillows to prevent getting overheated.
2. Keep Your Room Cool:
It is best to keep your bedroom thermostat between 62 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also put an ice-cold washcloth near your bed so you can cool yourself off should a hot flash wake you. That’ll help you fall back to sleep faster.
3. Talk to your Doctor about Melatonin:
Taking melatonin could help sleep during menopause. It is known that menopause is associated with a decrease in the body’s production of melatonin.
4. Fluid Restriction:
Having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night is a common complaint in women during menopause. Decrease fluid intake 3 to 4 hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood of middle of the night awakenings.
5. Hormone Replacement Therapy:
Discuss the possible benefits of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor if your sleep problems have been going on for a while and especially if you have hot flashes at night.
Jehan, S., Masters-Isarilov, A., Salifu, I., Zizi, F., Jean-Louis, G., Pandi-Perumal, S. R., & McFarlane, S. I. (2015). Sleep Disorders in Postmenopausal Women. Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy, 4(5), 1000212.
“Men, Women, and Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation, 2018, sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/men-women-and-sleep.
Authored by: Lauren King, PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psycologist, CBT-I Provider