The menopause is a major life event for women, affecting everything from their moods to their relationships. One unpleasant side effect which can be particularly difficult to deal with is trouble sleeping.

Here, we’ll look at how menopause and sleep habits and what you can do to minimise any issues you’re experiencing.

The connection between menopause and sleep?

Sleep troubles are common in all stages of the menopause. This includes the perimenopause, the actual menopause and post-menopause. It is estimated that 28% to 63% of women suffer from sleep troubles relating to menopause.

Sleep problems caused by the menopause:

  • Trouble getting to sleep
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Frequent wakeups
  • Waking up early in the morning

Over time, these sleep disturbances can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing.

What causes sleep troubles linked to the menopause?

So, what causes the sleep troubles you experience during the menopause? There are a few contributing factors such as hormones, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnoea.

Hormonal changes play a particular role. Before, during and after the menopause, your oestrogen levels start to drop. This leads to issues such as hot flushes, anxiety and bladder troubles. All of these issues can be detrimental to your sleep pattern. Your progesterone levels will also decline due to the menopause. This hormone is partially responsible for inducing sleep.

Those with restless leg syndrome can also find the condition worsens after the menopause. Symptoms can become more severe, although it isn’t known whether this is down to the condition itself, or whether women are more aware of it because of their troubles falling asleep.

Finally, the night sweats associated with the menopause also increase the chances of developing sleep apnoea. This has shown to be more prevalent in women who have gone through surgical, rather than natural menopause.

These are thought to be some of the most common causes of sleep disturbances experienced during the menopause.

Can you prevent menopausal sleep issues?

As sleep troubles experienced during the menopause are largely linked to hormonal changes, it’s difficult to prevent them. However, you can do things to improve your sleep. Ensuring you get regular exercise, for example, is a good way to reduce sleep troubles. You’ll also want to focus on managing stress and eating a healthy diet.

In some cases, medication such as HRT may help to regulate the hormones and reduce sleep issues. You will need to see your GP or women’s health specialist to discover the best treatment options for you.

It’s a good idea to undergo a menopause check too to determine whether it is the cause of your sleep troubles. This typically involves a blood test which measures your FSH levels (Follicle-stimulating hormone). However, if you are taking a contraceptive medication this test may not help diagnose the menopause as they can alter FSH levels.

The menopause is known to cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms. However, sleep troubles are one of the most difficult to live with. If you’ve been suffering from unexplained sleep disturbances, it’s definitely worth undergoing a menopause check.