How can I get a good nights sleep as a woman going through menopause?
July 12, 2013 4:22 PM   Subscribe

I go to bed around 10:30 at night, I get up around 7:00 AM. But I only get an average of 4 hours of sleep per night. I'd love to find out some tips for a menopausal woman to get a good nights sleep. Any tips, suggestions, or questions are welcome?
posted by kikithekat to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't read in bed, don't eat or exercise before bed, alcohol in moderation, pick a bed time and generally stick to it. Although these are general things, they still can help with the problem.

We get less sleep as we get older.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2013

A few questions:
- How's your sleep hygiene? (screen time, caffeine use, naps during the day, etc?)
- Has 4 hours been standard for you for a long time?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep or can you not get back to sleep when you do wake up? or both?
- Is there anything specific that either keeps you up or wakes you up?
- What have you tried so far? (Exercise, white noise, melatonin, magnesium, valerian, other sleep aids)?
posted by wiskunde at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2013

Is it just that you're not sleeping soundly? Or are you having hot flashes, night sweats, etc.?

I went through early menopause due to chemoradiation. I couldn't take HRT for the first year while I went through treatment, so I was plagued with hot flashes and night sweats; wearing wicking sleepwear helped somewhat in terms of the night sweats. For me, though, things didn't get significantly better till I went on HRT (both estrogen and progestin).
posted by scody at 4:28 PM on July 12, 2013

This is a hormonal thing. I'd talk to your doctor.

Me, I just gut it out, keepwater by my bedside, and listen to music on headphones...routine seems to help. I'm still not through the change but I am sleeping better, so there is hope.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2013

If you're having night sweats or hot flashes, keeping your feet cool (no covers, no socks) may help.
posted by wiskunde at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2013

Oh, one more thing. When you do call your doc, wouldn't hurt to have a blood sugar test. Turns out that diabetes type two can play with your sleep cycle as well. (I have a family member with the condition.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:33 PM on July 12, 2013

If you are having hot flashes or sweats at night you can get cooling pillows, my MIL has had good luck with one there are several different sorts out there.
posted by wwax at 4:47 PM on July 12, 2013

My HRT includes 3 drugs, one that helps with sleep. A dose of Zzzquil doesn't hurt either.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:23 PM on July 12, 2013

Keep the bedroom really cool.
Get exercise.
I got good results from taking Canterbury YMMV.
posted by SyraCarol at 6:36 PM on July 12, 2013

To continue with the staying cool theme: check your mattress pad! Some of the brands with a heavy plastic backing trap heat like crazy. Change it out to help cool the bed down.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:59 PM on July 12, 2013

Check your memail.
posted by raisingsand at 8:23 PM on July 12, 2013

Response by poster: FYI I have type 2 diabetes.
posted by kikithekat at 8:42 PM on July 12, 2013

Drugs. That's the only thing. I take a very small dose of Trazodone and it both helps me fall asleep and keeps me sleeping through the night. My biggest problem was waking up at 3am and then being up mostly the rest of the night. The Trazodone really helped.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:45 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been through menopause without HRT and coped with the night sweats by:

- running a fan all night, an oscillating fan on a pedestal so it could sweep across the bed.

- reducing the amount of covers on the bed. I still now only use a sheet and a very light cover (I'm using an empty duvet cover at the moment.)

- ground flax helped in reducing the night sweats. You can sprinkle it on cereal, mix it with juice. (If you start getting pains in your hands, stop with the flax. A small number of people don't get on with it and develop painful joints which stop as soon as you stop the flax.)
posted by essexjan at 12:20 AM on July 13, 2013

Stupid spell check! Try chaste berry: vitex agnus.
posted by SyraCarol at 6:04 AM on July 13, 2013

Okay, you updated about the type 2 diabetes-I don't know if you check your sugar or what you do for it but I definitely would at least call your doc about the sleep issues. Your insomnia could be connected to your diabetes not being under control. The doc just got thru going over that with my family member, explaining why that would cause the insomnia he was struggling with. Getting his prescription solved the problem.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:24 AM on July 13, 2013

No answers, only commiseration. I exercise, eat Paleo (supposed to do wonders for your sleep along with a huge host of other benefits), sleep with a fan on, and can't get a good night's sleep. I even tried a sleeping pill a couple nights ago, which meant I felt even worse the next morning. Not sure what magic answe I'm hoping for, but I'll keep checking back for both our sakes. Good luck and sweet dreams!
posted by ms_rasclark at 8:01 AM on July 13, 2013

1. Be scrupulous about artificial light: no screen time just before bed. (When I sometimes cheat, I always use Flux.) When you're up at 3am, don't be tempted to read your laptop/any artificial screen. Read with a light as dim as you can take it instead, until you start to relax again. (I actually use a candle or kerosene lantern.) Nothing exciting or dramatic.

2. I take 5HTP just before bed. (Used to take trazadone, but quit.)

3. Make sure you get some exercise each day, but not just before bed.

4. Don't stress about waking up. I've found this change to be monumental in how I treat that 3am wake-up. I lie there, and do the One-Two count with the breath until I fall asleep. (Breathe in-count 1, Breathe out-count 2 ... repeat until you fall asleep again. It really works.)
posted by RedEmma at 8:34 AM on July 13, 2013

If this insomnia is associated with hot flashes, hot flashes are supposedly caused by adrenalin:
Hot flashes, which plague up to 85% of menopausal women, can jolt you awake too. These flashes are actually caused by a rush of adrenaline that alerts your mind and wakes you up. You won't be able to settle down until the adrenaline subsides, and that could take hours.
And Trazadone, suggested by otherworldlyglow ("Drugs. That's the only thing. I take a very small dose of Trazodone and it both helps me fall asleep and keeps me sleeping through the night. My biggest problem was waking up at 3am and then being up mostly the rest of the night. The Trazodone really helped.") happens to be an α-adrenergic receptor blocker:
Trazodone's potent α1-adrenergic blockade ... may underlie its efficacy as a hypnotic. This seems possible as trazodone's antihistamine activity is relatively weak and probably clinically insignificant; hence, it cannot explain trazodone's sleep-inducing/enhancing effects. Trazodone lacks any affinity for the mACh receptors and therefore does not produce anticholinergic side effects.
Trazadone may not relieve the heat of hot flashes even if it helps insomnia though, because that could be mediated by β-adrenergic receptors, in my opinion.

Type 2 diabetes has a complex relationship with the adrenals, however, and I think you should ask the doctor treating your diabetes about it before taking Trazadone.
posted by jamjam at 5:05 PM on July 13, 2013

Yes, Trazodone doesn't do anything for hot flashes. But in my case, I can go months without a hot flash but the 3am wake ups are constant. A super low dose (1/4 of a pill) is enough. I don't have a great remedy for hot flashes but I do try to wear layers and only natural fibers so that when they hit, they are more manageable. I also keep my bedroom very cool.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

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