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Menopause and Sleep

5 Ways Menopause Sabotages Sleep

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Want to know one of the most telling signs that you're nearing or in the midst of menopause? The concept of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep sounds as precious -- and as out of reach -- as fitting into the jeans you wore in high school. According to a comprehensive report on menopause and sleep by the National Sleep Foundation, 61 percent of women between 45 and 60 say they suffer from sleeplessness and other sleep problems. Adding insult to injury, most women don't consider this problem serious enough to seek treatment. In fact, in a separate survey of women suffering from menopause-related sleep problems, 62 percent said they hadn't talked to a healthcare professional about their symptoms.

Yet recent research shows that poor sleep and lack of sleep raise your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, and immune system dysfunction. It's time to get some help!

Here are the five most common ways menopause sabotages sleep -- and what to do about them, so you can once again get a good night's rest.

How Night Sweats Affect Sleep

Nothing prepares you for the first time you wake up drenched in sweat, with your pj's stuck to your back and the pillow attached to your cheek. Ugh. But even when you don't have full-blown night sweats, temperature fluctuations can keep you from achieving deep, restorative sleep.

What's going on?

One of the lesser-known functions of estrogen is regulating your body temperature. As estrogen levels decline, your inner thermostat goes haywire. In addition, other menopause-related problems can complicate sleep. For example, depression is a common issue during the menopausal years, yet some of the most common antidepressants can increase night sweats.

What to do

  • Double-check your medication list. A number of medications are known to trigger night sweats. Chief among the culprits are tricyclic antidepressants, which can cause night sweats in up to 22 percent of the people taking them; and the SSRIs Zoloft, Prozac, and Celexa, which list night sweats as a side effect for a smaller percentage of users. If you need to be on an antidepressant to help with mood issues, talk to your doctor about switching to one less likely to cause night sweats.

  • Focus on the physical. Accept, as best you can, that night sweats are going to plague you and make comfort a priority. Buy light cotton pj's that breathe. Put a small fan near your bed that you can turn on when you need a fresh breeze. Keep a window open whenever possible. And keep an extra set of pj's and a pillowcase next to the bed, so you can swap clothes and linens in the middle of the night if you need to.