Quality sleep is very important for having adequate energy level, and a healthy weight as well as optimal hormonal balance. About 40% of women going through perimenopause experience sleep disturbances during the night. Up to 60% of post-menopausal women experience sleep disturbances. Two types of sleep disturbances that can be experienced are restless leg syndrome and insomnia. The mind may be affected by sleep deprivation even if there is not a feeling of tiredness during the day.
Sleep deprivation decreases performance of math skills and psychomotor vigilance tasks. Research comparing total sleep deprivation (total lack of sleep) to partial sleep deprivation (fragmented sleep or elimination of certain sleep stages) showed that they have a similar impact of decreased performance of daily tasks. The individuals that slept only four hours a night performed at the same level as the people that lost two nights of sleep even though the partially sleep deprived group didn’t feel as tired. According to the research, there may be an association between menopausal sleep deprivation and other ailments such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, hypertension, thyroid dysfunction, and obesity. It is very important for women going through menopause to realize that sleep disturbances may be contributing to some of their symptoms. Thyroid imbalance, mostly hypothyroidism, becomes more common during perimenopause and menopause. Over 10% of menopausal women have an underactive thyroid which can make menopausal symptoms worse and can even trigger menopausal symptoms. Hypothyroidism can cause sleep problems including insomnia, sleep apnea, and weight gain.
Hormone therapy may help alleviate sleep disturbances in menopausal women. Estrogen and progesterone replacements are especially useful for helping women sleep through the night. Antidepressants and hypnotic agents are possible alternatives to hormone therapy and may help alleviate sleep deprivation. For an all-natural approach to a restful night’s sleep, there are herbal supplements such as valerian and melatonin that can help treat the sleep deprivation experienced during menopause. Taking dietary supplements and antioxidants are also important for menopausal women as they help increase women’s mental performance during the day and contribute to a better quality of life. If you are perimenopausal or menopausal and have sleep issues, you need to pay attention to your thyroid and to your weight. Losing weight and balancing your thyroid hormone levels will improve your sleep.