Topic: Insomnia Is a Common Side Effect of Menopause

While there are many well-known symptoms of menopause—hot flashes, hair growth, and weight gain—insomnia is one that isn’t always mentioned. But as it turns out, menopause-related insomnia is quite common.

In fact, the chances of having insomnia go up as you enter menopause, with 61 percent of postmenopausal women experiencing symptoms, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

If you’re struggling to get some shut-eye, here’s everything you need to know about the condition, plus doctor-approved tips that can help.

Symptoms of insomnia

Insomnia is generally characterized by trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, resulting in a lack of sleep that causes distress or difficulty with daily activities, says Dr. Rachel Marie E. Salas, MD and professor of neurology and nursing at Johns Hopkins. “If it happens at least three nights a week and lasts for at least one month, you may have what sleep experts call persistent insomnia disorder.”

When symptoms are left untreated, it can become a negative ongoing cycle that leads to additional health problems.

“Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can cause daytime impairments such as fatigue, malaise, difficulties with memory and concentration, mood disturbances, irritability, and difficulty coping with daily stressors,” Jennie Mastroianni, DNP, NCMP, a nurse practitioner at Tufts Medical Center, explains. “These symptoms can actually cause more stress and worsen insomnia.”

Is there a connection between menopause and insomnia?

Yes, according to experts.

“Menopause can wreak havoc on women’s sleep. Sleep issues are common during and through perimenopause to post-menopause,” Dr. Salas explains. “The ovaries gradually decrease the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during perimenopause. These hormonal changes contribute to sleep issues that often continue into post-menopause.”

If you are experiencing hot flashes and night sweats, it can cause sleep disturbances and sleep deprivation.

“Women who are undergoing the menopausal transition may be more likely to report decreased sleep quality, particularly if they experience vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats). Vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause can cause sleep disruption leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and overall reduced quality of life,” Dr. Mastroianni states.

How to promote better sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping, whether hormone-related or not, here are some action steps you can take.

Proper sleep hygiene

In other words, adopt habits that increase your chances of a good night’s sleep.

Topic Discussed: Insomnia Is a Common Side Effect of Menopause

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