Approximately 25 percent of Canadian women aged 50 to 65 report sleep trouble on a weekly basis. With this in mind, we asked an expert how to get the rest you need despite the hormonal fluctuations that come with menopause.
1. Sleep like a baby (that is, adopt a wind-down routine)
Whether your insomnia is the result of hormones or work-related stress, a consistent bedtime routine will help. Taper off any stimulating or stressful activities (like checking emails) and do things you find relaxing—reading or taking a bath, for example.
2. Choose an energizing afternoon snack
Caffeine can stay in your system for up to eight hours. So, if you're planning to hit the hay around 10 o'clock, cut it off at 2 p.m. If you need a boost, go for a brisk walk or enjoy an energizing snack, like a smoothie with ingredients such as chia seeds, coconut water, avocado or banana.
3. Don't fret if you wake in the middle of the night
OK, you're awake at 2 a.m.—now what? "Estrogen deficiency causes difficulty staying asleep, and many report sleep-maintenance insomnia as the single most distressing symptom of menopause," says Dr. James MacFarlane, associate professor of psychiatry at University of Toronto and director of education and clinical consultant for Medsleep. If you wake in the night, get out of bed and engage in a quiet rewarding activity, like sorting family photos, then go back to bed when you feel relaxed.
4. Set the mood for sleep
A dark bedroom encourages slumber and makes it easier to fall back asleep if you wake. Blackout shades can help. Women going through menopause (and who are susceptible to hot flashes) may also want to keep the room cool—a good idea for everyone—and wear light pajamas to bed.
5. Treat menopause symptoms
Falling progesterone and estrogen levels bring about a bevy of side-effects, such as night sweats, depression and weight gain, which are all cause for insomnia. A comfy sleep environment may help, as well as hormone therapy or a temporary prescription for serotonin modulators.