To women everywhere who are experiencing perimenopause or menopause, we salute you.
Sleep can be incredibly evasive during this time of your life, especially if you’re experiencing night sweats and hot flashes. Staying up all night fighting with your pillow might not be a big deal once or twice, but over time the sleep you’re losing to those night sweats can cause serious physical and mental health issues.
Sleeping During Menopause
According to the Sleep Center at the University of California Los Angeles, night sweats aren’t the only reason you’re not getting the best sleep of your life during menopause. Instead, the changes in your hormones can both directly and indirectly change how you sleep for the worse. For example, your sleep may become lighter or you may spend less time in the sleep stage known as deep sleep. You can even be awoken by hot flashes as much as once an hour!
Obviously, this can’t be the best thing for your well-being. In fact, according to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine, in the short term, a lack of sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain new information and can increase risk of serious accidents.
Longer-term effects of a lack of sleep include:
- Since your body secretes a number of appetite, metabolism and glucose controlling hormones at night, a lack of sleep can create a cascade that results in obesity. Not only will you lack the energy to exercise, but your body may throw cravings for sweets your way or even make it hard to know when to stop eating.
- Sleeping less than five hours a night can change the way your body processes glucose. Less shuteye can cause glucose to be processed more slowly and greatly increases your risk of developing Diabetes.
- If you already have problems with your blood pressure, even one night of lost sleep can cause your pressure to soar the next day. Losing sleep over and over can influence how well your blood pressure is controlled overall.
Getting Better Sleep
Sleep is vital to normal functioning for humans of any age, but getting enough sleep can be such a balancing act as your life gets more hectic and busier.
Between family commitments, friends, household commitments and job duties, you might believe you’ll never be able to carve any time out for yourself to get more sleep or try some techniques to improve the sleep you are getting. Fortunately, many things that help you sleep are simple.
Give these a try:
- Cool your room at night. Turning the thermostat down is good for sleep, according to science. For some, it means keeping their heads cool and the rest of their bodies lukewarm, for others this might mean cranking the A/C while laying under a thin sheet. Sleep temperature is highly individual, but if you keep your bedroom as cool as is comfortable, it’ll help combat night sweats.
- Lighten your sleep attire. Some women go to bed wearing layers, others wear hardly nothing at all. When you have night sweats regularly, you can soak through your PJs, further disrupting sleep. Having a less is more attitude may be the biggest boon to your sleep. Less clothing to soak through is more sleep you’re getting.
- Add a little exercise. Researchers in Latin America found that women who exercise less than three times a week for 30 minutes were 28 percent more likely to have more severe menopause symptoms than their more active counterparts. These women were also 21 percent more likely to experience hot flashes. It would seem that hitting the gym for just a half hour three days a week can help reduce hot flashes and night sweats.
Tossing and turning, or even drenching the bed, isn’t a problem to be ashamed of, it’s just another part of menopause. Instead of ignoring your lack of sleep, though, take control of your night sweats with simple changes to your sleep environment and daily activities.