The menopausal transition years are often a time when other changes occur in a woman’s life. You may be looking after aging parents, supporting your children as they reach adulthood, and reflecting on your own life course. Add hot flashes on top of all that and you might have trouble sleeping at night. Illustration of a woman in a hammock Not getting enough sleep can affect all areas of life. Lack of sleep can make you irritable or depressed, cause you to be more forgetful than usual, and lead to more falls or accidents. Some women who have trouble sleeping may use over-the-counter sleeping pills like melatonin. Others use prescription drugs to help them sleep, which can help when used for a short time. But drugs do not cure insomnia. Developing healthy bedtime habits can help you get a good night’s sleep.
The good news is that you don’t have to kiss a good night’s rest goodbye once you hit menopause. There are steps you can take to get better sleep.
Drugs and Therapies
Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown to help relieve symptoms of sleep in postmenopausal women. Hormone replacement therapies can improve the quality of sleep, although few objective differences in sleep have been observed with their use, and the adverse effects of hormone therapy may outweigh any benefit. Alternative therapies like acupuncture can also be helpful. Talk to your doctor about what might be right for you. As for over-the-counter sleeping pills? While occasional use is not harmful, it is also important to make lifestyle changes that improve sleep, such as relaxing an hour before bedtime, going to bed at the same time every night, and not watching television or using an electronic device before falling asleep.
In addition to medication, the following tips can keep you cool at night and help you sleep better without using hormones:
- Wear loose clothing in bed.
- Clothing made from natural fibers, such as cotton, is generally the best.
- Keep your bedroom cool and well ventilated.
- Avoid certain foods that can cause sweating (such as spicy foods), especially right before bed.Develop a bedtime routine.
- Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or bathe in a hot tub.
- Try not to watch TV or use your computer or mobile device in the bedroom.
- The light from these devices can prevent you from falling asleep.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, neither too hot nor too cold, and as quiet as possible.
- Exercise at regular times each day, but not near bedtime.
- Avoid eating large meals near bedtime.
- Stay away from caffeine (found in some coffee, tea, or chocolate) late in the day.
- Remember that alcohol will not help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to sleep.