Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage associated with dreaming, is particularly affected. Many menopausal women find that they dream less because of this lack of REM sleep, and when you don't get enough REM sleep, you don't feel rested in the morning.
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Some women find it hard to sleep through the night during
menopause due to hot flashes or night sweats.
- Set a regular sleep-wake schedule allowing sufficient sleep to feel well-rested.
- Exercise regularly in the late afternoon or early evening, so you are physically tired at night. A long walk after dinner may be all you need.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages after early afternoon, and cut your overall caffeine consumption. Besides keeping you up, caffeine can make you feel stressed and even more irritable. If you love coffee, switch to decaf.
- Set a bedtime routine that is relaxing. Maybe yoga or some other meditative exercise would help.
- Try to settle stressful thoughts -- deal with them, write them down, do what it takes to set them to rest.
- Avoid alcohol -- it is sedating initially, but in the wee hours, you will rebound from a "nightcap."
- Avoid sleeping pills -- except in rare circumstances (traveling, severe temporary stress, or for an anxiety disorder for which you are under physician surveillance); they only work in the short term and can be very addictive.
- Try a glass of warm milk or herbal tea with milk in it. Milk contains an amino acid, tryptophan, which is a mild, natural sedative that can help you get drowsy.
- Get a general medical checkup. There are a number of serious problems, such as depression or thyroid disease, that are associated with sleep disorders. Don't accept a quick prescription for sleeping pills as the answer.
- Consider a trial of estrogen replacement, particularly if you are having a lot of bothersome flashes at night.
- See a sleep-disorder specialist. A specialized workup may reveal a problem, such as sleep apnea (a problem with breathing during sleep), which may not turn up in the course of a general physical exam.
For information on the topics covered in this article, try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies, visit our main Home Remedies page.
- Menopause that befalls women in their forties or fifties, and causes such unpleasant symptoms as hot flashes and insomnia. Learn how to alleviate these conditions in Herbal Remedies for Menopause.
- To learn more about menopause and how it affects the body, read How Menopause Works.
- Osteoporosis is another common ailment that develops in later years. To learn how to cope with this condition, read Home Remedies for Osteoporosis.