Expert help for insomnia during menopause

November 23, 2014

If you need help with insomnia caused by menopause, you're certainly not alone. Here are a few things you need to know about what causes insomnia during menopause and how you can treat it.

Expert help for insomnia during menopause

Is insomnia during menopause common?

Insomnia during menopause of often under-reported because health-care workers do not ask specifically about this symptom. Many women do not even associate insomnia with menopause. Unfortunately, menopause and insomnia go hand in hand.

The exact number of women who have this problem is not known, but data from clinic visits indicate that the numbers are not minuscule. Women with insomnia during menopause often complain about having difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep or having interrupted sleep with early waking. The lack of opportunity to get a good night’s sleep often results in some form of daytime impairment. Insomnia during menopause is a transient condition but can last several months to a few years.

What causes insomnia during menopause?

When the menopausal phase subsides, the insomnia also gradually improves. However, during menopause, the insomnia can be worsened by any emotional or physical stress. When insomnia during menopause lasts more than a month, it often affects the quality of life. Some women also develop impaired social and occupational performance and tend to be irritable. Other associated problems of insomnia during menopause include daytime drowsiness, anxiety, depression and feeling fatigued.

How is it diagnosed?

Evaluation of insomnia during menopause usually requires detailed medical, sleep and psychiatric history by the health-care provider. Patients are asked to keep a sleep diary that can help document the severity of the problem, and any associated factors that worsen it.

Once the diagnosis of insomnia during menopause is made, the treatment depends on the underlying cause and correcting any associated medical or mental health disorder. There are several lifestyle changes that can be made for the treatment of menopause-related insomnia.

Treatments to help with insomnia during menopause

The first thing the individual should do is avoid caffeine, especially at night. Caffeine is a brain stimulant and makes it difficult for people to sleep. In addition, one should avoid drinking too much alcohol, because not only can alcohol interrupt sleep by inducing the urge to urinate, it can also stimulate the brain.

Performing some type of exercise during the daytime is also highly recommended, but physical activity should not be done just before bedtime. If stress is a problem, try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing, massage, or guided imagery therapies to relax the mind. There are ample free videos on the web, which teach how to perform relaxation exercises.

If you smoke, discontinue the habit, as it may trigger hot flashes, which can also disturb sleep. Finally, exercise regularly. Not only does physical activity prevent obesity, it also prevents the onset of diabetes, heart disease and many other disorders associated with weight gain. If these lifestyle methods fail to reduce or treat insomnia during menopause, be sure to talk to your doctor.

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