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hot flashMany women entering menopause have trouble sleeping.  This generally occurs in the late 40s to early 50s, but can happen earlier.  When a woman goes through menopause, the body stops producing progesterone and estrogen – two important hormones.  This is a normal part of growing older, but it can still be uncomfortable and unpleasant.  Other symptoms include hot flashes and sweating, which can contribute to sleeplessness.  Some women suffer from greater anxiety and depression, which also affects sleeping.

You may not feel well rested during the day having woken multiple times during the night, and consequently you might have less energy.  It can be harder to get through life if the changes in your body are preventing you from getting enough sleep.  Over sixty percent of women going through menopause have some sleep problems. Maybe there’s a little comfort knowing you’re not going through this alone.

Traditionally, the main treatment for menopausal symptoms has been hormonal therapy.  Estrogen may be given in the form of a cream, patch, or pill, and may be combined with progestin.  Unfortunately, hormone therapy can also increase the risk of getting breast cancer or having a stroke.  This is why hormone therapy is no longer prescribed as readily, and will be used at the lowest dosage possible.  The appropriateness of this therapy is also likely to be reevaluated often.

If you choose not to use hormone therapy, or if it’s decided that this therapy is too risky in your situation, there are still ways you can deal with menopause-related sleeplessness.  Simply making sure you have proper ventilation in your bedroom, avoiding foods that can cause sweating such as spicy foods, and wearing loose clothing to bed can help you not get quite as overheated and uncomfortable.  A regular sleep schedule will help you sleep in general; i.e. going to bed at the same time every night, as will regular exercise at any time other than right before bed.

During the day, women who are having trouble with sleeping at night should avoid a high caffeine intake, as should not take naps during the day.  These can interrupt your sleep schedule.  Relaxation techniques and doing something soothing can also help.  Talk to your doctor if you’ve tried these methods without success.  He or she may be able to offer some alternative treatments.  Soy products and other plant sources that contain phytoestrogens may be of some use, as can black cohosh, an herb associated with use for menstrual and hormonal problems.

If you’re going through menopause, you don’t have to suffer.  There’s no reason that you can’t find a way to get good, restful sleep without unpleasant side effects.  Do some research and talk to your doctor to find out what the best strategy is for you and your situation.  You’ll feel better and have more even moods if you’re sleeping regularly, and having gotten enough sleep will help you deal with the other symptoms associated with menopause.

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