Legend has it, when you can’t sleep at night it’s because you’re awake in someone else’s dream. If only this was true for everyone! Unfortunately for many, disturbed sleep and insomnia are a result of perimenopausal and menopausal hot flashes and hormonal changes. Not quite as romantic as the legend’s explanation!
Hot flashes, caused by the fluctuation of oestrogen and progesterone levels which occur during perimenopause and menopause, are reported to effect 85 percent of women. These can happen anytime during the day, but when they occur at night it can result in disturbed sleep patterns and waking up drenched in sweat. And should you need to get up in the dark of night to change your sleepwear and sheets, it’s very difficult to settle back into a healthy sleep.
America’s National Sleep Foundation estimates that 61 percent of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women suffer regular episodes of insomnia. The foundation attributes the hormonal changes connected with menopause as being a cause of this problem.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take which may help your sleep. Northwestern University conducted a study on a group of middle aged and older adults in which a control group was given 30-40 minutes of exercise, 4 days a week for 16 weeks. Phyllis Zee, M.D. director of the Sleep Disorders Centre at Northwestern Medicine, reports that “Insomnia increases with age. Around middle age, sleep begins to change dramatically. It is essential that we identify behavioural ways to improve sleep. Now we have promising results showing aerobic exercise is a simple strategy to help people sleep better and feel more vigorous.”
Another tip for improved sleep, which gives me personal distress to write about, is the reduction of caffeine intake. As we all know, caffeine is found in coffee, tea and chocolate. menopausehealthmatters.com reports that high caffeine consumption has been linked to earlier onset menopause, as well as increasing the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats during perimenopause and menopause. So reducing caffeine intake and restricting consumption to mornings may help sleep, as caffeine stays in our system for 8 hours after ingestion.
Good sleep hygiene is another way of helping with a good night’s sleep. There are many great books which can guide you through the steps you need to take to improve sleep quality - with suggestions of routine, meditation, limited screen time before bed and resetting your inner clock. Overall temperature is another essential element discussed, and this is not only ensuring the temperature of your room is kept low, but also that your bedclothes and sleepwear are breathable and light. This is particularly relevant when trying to stay comfortable during hot flashes.
Cliveden was created with this in mind. We use soft, Certified Organic cotton jersey in all of our products, to produce breathable, comfortable sleep and loungewear.