How does menopause affect sleep?
Menopause can affect your sleep in different ways. During this time, you gradually stop producing the hormone progesterone, which has a role in helping you sleep.
Having symptoms like night sweats can also make it more difficult to have a well-rested night. You might wake up often feeling very hot and uncomfortable, need to use a towel to dry yourself, or change your nightwear.
Menopause can also increase your risk of anxiety and depression, which can impact your sleep at night. At the same time, not sleeping well can impact your mood so it can become a cycle.
Some people going through the menopause also experience insomnia. If you have insomnia you’ll find it hard to fall asleep. You might also wake up often during the night, or too early in the morning.
You’re also more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnoea after going through the menopause, which also affects your sleep quality.
Other menopause symptoms that can affect your sleep include:
- aches and pains in your joints
- restless legs syndrome
What do night sweats feel like?
Night sweats are caused by a reduction in the hormones oestrogen and progesterone that happens during menopause. If you are experiencing night sweats you might:
- feel very hot all over your face and body during the night
- wake up covered in sweat
- find that your bedsheets are wet with sweat, which wakes you up
Does HRT help with sleep problems?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be very effective in treating menopause symptoms that can affect your sleep, such as night sweats and aches and pains. However, HRT isn’t suitable for everyone. If you’ve had health conditions like breast cancer in the past you may not be able to take HRT.
Your GP might suggest non-hormonal medications that can help with hot flushes if you can’t take HRT, or if you don’t want to.
How can I manage night sweats?
Speak to your GP about medications that might help. In the meantime, here are some self-help tips that can help you feel more comfortable at night.
- Wear loose and lightweight nightwear in bed to help you stay cool.
- Keep a glass of cold water by your bed to cool and rehydrate you during the night.
- Keep a fresh change of sheets and nightwear close to your bed.
- Have a window open slightly or keep a fan running to help keep your bedroom cool.
- Try to eat a healthy diet and lose any excess weight. Being overweight can make menopause symptoms, such as night sweats, worse.
How can I sleep better during the menopause?
Below are some steps that can help you improve your sleep at night.
- Avoid napping during the day, even when you feel tired. This can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Exercising can help to boost your mood and help you sleep better at night. But avoid exercise within four hours of going to bed as this can have the opposite effect and may keep you awake.
- Limit the time you spend looking at screens that produce blue light before bedtime. Blue light can prevent our bodies from producing the hormones that help us sleep.
- Avoid smoking, eating heavy meals or drinking alcohol or caffeine at least two hours before bed.
- Try to establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Having a warm bath can be soothing. And doing some relaxing breathing exercises in the evening to help prepare you for sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day as this can help your body get into a routine for sleep.
- If stress and anxiety are keeping you awake, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may help.
Getting enough sleep is important for both your physical and mental health. If you’re struggling with symptoms of menopause, talk to your GP.