This article has been researched and written by Arelang Naturals® in-house writers.
Menopause V/S Sleep: Who wins?
Menopause is a transformative stage in a woman's life, signalling the end of reproductive years and bringing about significant hormonal changes.
Menopause - an intricate phase in a woman's life, signifies the conclusion of her reproductive journey, typically unfolding in her late 40s to early 50s. Preceding this milestone is perimenopause, characterised by hormonal ebbs and flows and erratic menstrual cycles. Yet, the narrative of menopause is far from uniform; it is a personal experience that affects each woman so differently. For some, this transition is a serene journey, marked by minimal disruptions and subtle shifts in mood and energy. Conversely, others find themselves navigating a more turbulent sea, grappling with an array of symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and mood swings. The diversity in women's encounters with menopause and perimenopause stems from a complex interplay of genetics, lifestyle choices, and overall health. This inherent variability emphasises the need for a nuanced understanding of each woman's distinctive journey, creating a need for tailored strategies to address the physical and emotional facets of this transformative period in her life.
As women go through perimenopause and menopause, hormonal changes influence their sleep patterns. The delicate balance of estrogen and progesterone, essential hormones in a woman's reproductive life, begins to waver, casting a ripple effect on sleep. Night sweats and hot flashes are characteristics of hormonal shifts and disrupt the peaceful rest, causing difficulties in falling and staying asleep. The diminishing estrogen levels alter the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles, adding layers of complexity to the nocturnal experience.
These hormonal fluctuations create a unique sleep landscape for each woman, with some navigating occasional disturbances and others grappling with persistent insomnia. Understanding this intimate interplay between hormones and sleep during perimenopause and menopause becomes pivotal in formulating effective strategies to restore the restorative power of a good night's sleep.
Sleep, that nightly adventure our bodies embark upon, can get a bit tricky during perimenopause and menopause. It's like a puzzle, and the pieces are these things called hormones – estrogen and progesterone. These hormones, which used to play nicely when you were younger, start acting up during this time, making sleep a bit of a challenge. Imagine trying to sleep, and suddenly you're hit with these things called night sweats and hot flashes. They're the troublemakers making a ruckus every night. They mess with your sleep quality, making it harder to get the good rest you need. But it is not just the hot flashes and night sweats that make it difficult to sleep well. Here is what happens when you are approaching menopause and after:
Reduced estrogen levels, particularly during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and perimenopause, may contribute to insomnia. Women might experience difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or both.
2. Increased Night time Awakenings:
Low estrogen levels, especially during the menstrual and perimenopausal phases, can be associated with an increased likelihood of waking up during the night. This can result in fragmented sleep patterns. One prominent factor is the impact of estrogen on thermoregulation. As estrogen levels decrease, especially during perimenopause and menopause, it can lead to a dysregulation of body temperature. This dysregulation is often associated with the occurrence of hot flashes and night sweats. The sudden and intense heat sensations can awaken individuals from sleep, disrupting the normal sleep cycle.
3. Hot Flashes and Night Sweats:
A significant drop in estrogen during perimenopause and menopause is often linked to the occurrence of hot flashes and night sweats. These sudden, intense sensations of heat can lead to night sweats, causing discomfort and interrupting sleep.
4. Sleep-Disordered Breathing:
Changes in hormone levels, including a decline in estrogen, can influence the upper airway muscles and contribute to sleep-disordered breathing conditions like sleep apnea. This can lead to brief pauses in breathing during sleep, disrupting the sleep cycle.
5. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS):
Several studies propose a possible link between reduced estrogen levels and the onset or worsening of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). This condition induces discomfort and an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, ultimately resulting in disruptions to sleep.
6. Mood Disturbances & Increased Sensitivity to Stress:
Estrogen has neuroprotective effects and can influence mood-regulating neurotransmitters. A drop in estrogen levels may contribute to mood disturbances, such as increased anxiety or depression, which can impact sleep quality. Fluctuations in hormones, such as a decline in estrogen, may amplify sensitivity to stress and disrupt emotional balance. Anxiety or mood fluctuations linked to hormonal shifts pose challenges in maintaining uninterrupted sleep.
7. Genitourinary Symptoms:
Fluctuations in estrogen levels can impact genitourinary tissues, resulting in symptoms like heightened frequency of urination. Nighttime urges to urinate may lead to awakenings and disrupt the seamless flow of sleep.
8. Circadian Rhythm Disturbance:
Fluctuations in hormones can influence the control of circadian rhythms, the body's internal clock governing the sleep-wake cycle. Alterations in estrogen levels might disturb the typical operation of circadian rhythms, resulting in irregular sleep patterns.
The list is endless and the impact of hormonal changes goes beyond just staying up at night. But if this is natural, what is the solution? Is this fate inevitable?
The answer to this is a resonating no. While hormonal changes are inevitable, the symptoms and effects of them are totally in our control. Society today does not promote conversations around menstruation and menopause. Studies show that most women won't talk about it, even to other women, and do not have enough education about dealing with this life changing problem. Being more mindful and changing things in your control can help delay the onset as well as reduce the impact of menopause. Nutrition and lifestyle habits play a crucial role. A lesser known fact is that foods, natural and plant-based can help alleviate a lot of hormonal issues, without having to go through chemical induced hormonal therapy.
Here is a list of foods that help with hormonal shifts and are important for you to incorporate in your diets:
1. Soy & Soy Isoflavones: Harnessing phytoestrogens, compounds in soy that mimic estrogen effects, can be beneficial during menopause. Incorporating soy-based foods such as tofu, soy milk, and edamame may provide relief from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
2. Fatty Fish: Opting for fatty fish varieties like salmon, mackerel, and sardines introduces omega-3 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties. Consumption of these essential fats may help alleviate menopausal symptoms such as joint pain and mood swings.
3. Flaxseeds: Rich in lignans, flaxseeds offer antioxidant and estrogen-like benefits. Integrating ground flaxseeds into your diet, or as toppings on your smoothie bowls supports hormonal balance, potentially easing symptoms like hot flashes and mood fluctuations during menopause.
4. Calcium-Rich Foods: Addressing the heightened risk of bone loss in menopausal women requires sufficient calcium intake. Incorporating dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fortified plant-based milk, and almonds into your diet will help fortify bone strength.
5. Colourful Fruits and Vegetables: A diverse array of fruits and vegetables, teeming with antioxidants and vitamins, aids in combating oxidative stress associated with ageing and hormonal changes. Embrace a spectrum of colourful options like berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, and sweet potatoes to enhance overall health and well-being during menopause.
6.Rekindle For Women: Rekindle for Women is a blend of powerful phytoestrogens and potent, plant-based ingredients meant to give women’s bodies essential nutrients in small doses every day, to help boost and balance estrogen production. Suited for women of menstruating ages, helps with menstrual discomforts, regulating menstrual cycles and reducing hot flashes and mood swings.
7. Replenish With Phytos: These delicious sugar-free, vegan gummies offer protective, immune-boosting, antioxidant nutrients that you should be getting from your daily portions of coloured fruits and veggies. Replenish with Phytos combines 7 of the most powerful antioxidants to help the body’s ability to boost GLUTATHIONE levels that help fight free radicals and oxidative stress, protect cell degeneration, and boost immunity.
8. Restore Your Sleep: Restore your Sleep – Dark Chocolates for Deep Sleep, is India’s 1st Pro-Melatonin sleep formulation created using NO Synthetic Melatonin. A powerful synergistic blend of herbs that not only helps in boosting the production of natural melatonin in the body, but also improves quality of sleep.