8 tips for sleeping well through menopause symptoms
Menopause affects every woman differently, but lots of women report symptoms such as night sweats and insomnia that make it more difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. Dr. Allie Hare, a consultant in sleep and respiratory medicine, says that insomnia can often present itself during perimenopause or menopause, despite it being one of its lesser known symptoms.
Jessica Hanley, founder of Piglet in Bed, a luxury linen bedding and sleep brand, has pulled together some tips for getting a good night’s sleep when experiencing night sweats from menopause.
1. Get into a routine
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day for the best sleep quality. Maintaining a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do to alleviate general symptoms of menopause and is vital for preventing other health conditions.
Avoid napping if you can. Hot flashes and menopause can make us feel more tired during the day but napping can make it even harder to fall asleep at night.
Blogger and interior stylist Maxine Brady spoke about her experience with menopause and recommended using a fitness watch to track bedtimes:
“I track my sleep using a Fitbit and use it to make sure I set regular bedtimes and wake up times,” she said.
2. Keep your room ventilated and cool
Dr. Neil Stanley, independent sleep expert and bestselling author of “How to Sleep Well” reported that many experts say the ideal temperature for the bedroom is 60-65 degrees F.
But ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference.
It’s not just the room temperature that’s important for getting a good night’s sleep. The temperature under the sheets is equally important and should be close to a thermo-neutral temperature.
It’s a good idea to leave your bedroom window open a crack, especially during warmer months. Having a flow of fresh air in your bedroom will help keep you cool and the gentle breeze can help relax you. If you don’t like sleeping with the window open, try to leave it open during the day to set the room up with a good amount of airflow for the evening.
During the winter months, or if you live on a noisy street, consider investing in a quiet fan to circulate the air around your room. You might also want to leave the bedroom door ajar as this can also prevent the room from feeling stuffy.
3. Try linen bed sheets
To get the best sleep, we must keep our bodies comfortable, cool and dry. Comfort, temperature regulation and softness all happen to be some of linen’s intrinsic technical feats.
During the REM sleep stage, we aren’t very good at keeping our body temperature constant. Menopause only makes this trickier, so what we sleep in is very important.
According to a performance study by the University of Lorraine, France, linen achieved the highest score for airflow in comparison to other common bedding materials.
Brady, who struggles with skin sensitivity during menopause, added, “Linen sheets feel nice on my skin…and the natural fibers help with sweat-wicking so that my skin can breathe.”
4. Sleep in darkness
This one may sound obvious to some, but keeping your room dark is essential for a good night’s sleep.
If you are tossing and turning throughout the night, spotting bursts of light from street lamps or even sunlight in the early morning will only make matters worse. Consider investing in black-out blinds or curtains. Alternatively, a classic eye mask will do the trick.
Also, make sure you have low-level dim lights in your room for use before you go to sleep. Some types of light with high lumen levels will stimulate your brain and make it think it’s daytime, preventing you from getting a good night’s rest.
5. Wear good-quality pajamas
We don’t sleep well if our skin feels wet from sweat—and any woman experiencing hot flashes at nighttime is well aware of this.
Wearing breathable materials to sleep in, like linen pajamas is better than sleeping naked (honestly) because linen is great for moisture management, wicking and all-around breathability, allowing sweat to pass through the material while creating a barrier between you and your bed.
6. Hydrate before bed
It’s important to drink enough water throughout the day to prepare your body for a good night’s sleep and alleviate some symptoms of menopause including dryness. In saying this, avoid drinking large amounts of water just before you head to bed so you don’t end up running to the bathroom throughout the night.
Make careful choices about what you drink. Avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee or cola for a few hours before you go to bed and limit your consumption of soft drinks which can have high volumes of sugar. We know how tempting it can be to indulge in a glass of wine in front of the television, but when keeping your sleep a priority, alcohol should be limited or avoided as much as possible.
7. Put your phone to bed
Scrolling endlessly on your phone before bed is a bad idea at any age, but if you’re already struggling with sleep quality, it’s definitely something to avoid. Your phone screen emits blue light which signals to your brain that it’s still daytime, knocking your internal clock out of sync and preventing you from being able to easily doze off. Additionally, checking your phone before bed can induce symptoms of anxiety and keep you psychologically alert.
Try to switch off your phone an hour or so before bed to let your eyes rest and give you some much-needed wind-down time. If you’re in the routine of using your phone in bed, try to replace this habit with reading a book. Reading will help tire your eyes and is a great distraction to help your mind relax after a stressful day!
8. Speak to a doctor about your symptoms
Dr. Hare advised, “While cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) is also effective at this time, hormone replacement therapy can be effective as well, particularly if hot flashes or night sweats are contributing to poor sleep.”
If you’re really struggling with your symptoms, make sure you don’t struggle alone and reach out to your general physician for professional advice on your options to alleviate menopause symptoms.