Disturbed sleep and insomnia can be a stand-alone symptom during perimenopause and menopause or can be tied in with one or more of the symptoms listed above.
Not getting enough sleep can, of course, have a significant impact on how you cope with the daytime hours with lack of sleep causing anxiety, irritation, fatigue, and concentration problems.
Hot flashes, anxiety, sex-life problems, and headaches can all play havoc with sleep. Other issues which can cause your sleep to be disturbed or make it difficult to drop off include bladder problems and incontinence.
Here are a variety of ways to improve your chances of falling asleep quickly and staying asleep:
- Use natural fabrics for your bedclothes and sleepwear.
- Stick to a regular schedule, so your body knows it is time for bed.
- Get some fresh air and if possible at least 30 minutes of sunlight a day (using sun protection).
- Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing or other relaxation methods to de-stress before bed. Try playing soothing sounds or reading for a set time each night.
- Avoid screens too close to bedtime. Read or listen to calm music or nature sounds instead.
- Take a warm bath, avoid alcohol or caffeine (found in tea, coffee, cold drinks, and chocolate) before bed.
If despite all these measures you still can’t sleep, don’t lie in bed worrying about not getting sleep. Get up and find something relaxing to do until you start to feel sleepy again.
What Are the Stages of Menopause?
Did you know there are effectively three stages of menopause? The stages cover before, during and after menopause.
I mentioned perimenopause earlier. This is the time before menopause and when estrogen levels begin to fall. Perimenopause typically lasts around three to five years although some women might have a shorter or longer perimenopause period.
Although menstruation may become irregular and bleeding lighter, it is still possible to get pregnant during this time so birth control should be used until at least 12 months have passed since your last menstrual period and you are officially in menopause.
Technically you are in menopause after you’ve gone 12 full months without any menstrual periods and the lack of menstruation is not down to pregnancy, medication, illness or breastfeeding.
The transition from perimenopause to menopause proper usually takes between one to three years, and most women enter the menopause in their early 50s.
Some women experience all of the symptoms mentioned above and more while others experience few if any signs.
You are described as post-menopausal a year after your last menstrual period. Symptoms which started during perimenopause may continue through menopause and postmenopause.
Additionally, some women fall into a higher risk category for heart disease and low bone density (osteopenia and osteoporosis) due to the lower levels of estrogen in their body.
How To Cope With Menopause
I wish I could give you a magic formula for coping with menopause, but the simple truth is each woman experiences and copes with the stages of menopause in their own unique way.
Symptoms which are mildly irritating to some women can be devastating to others depending on life circumstances and health conditions.
If you feel you would benefit from help, you could make an appointment with your usual health care provider or find a doctor who is a specialist in menopause. Other women prefer to try homeopathic remedies, make lifestyle changes or plow through menopausal stages without any support, medical or otherwise.
The thing to remember is there are no prizes for suffering when you don’t need to. Accepting help, whether that is a talking therapy or hormone replacement therapy, does not make you a failure.
Next page: Ways to cope during menopause, including information on hormone replacement therapy and alternative options.