If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that pulling all-nighters are a thing of your past. No offense to all the night crawlers out there, but nothing quite beats a reasonable bedtime and a solid 8-10 hours of sleep. Ah, pure bliss.
But for women in the beginning stages of menopause, it’s a different story. Roughly 56% get less than 7 hours of sleep every night. Many women have trouble falling asleep, and 30.8% report issues with staying asleep. More than half of women in the early stages of menopause report feel tired four or more days per week.
The sleep struggle is real.
And many women are looking online for answers, only to find myths, misinformation, and marketing ploys promoting so-called “miracle” products.
We’re here to cut through these menopause myths for you. Here are the biggest myths we’ve seen about menopause and sleeplessness.
1. Are night sweats the only menopause-related sleep disorder?
Night sweats are one cause of sleeplessness during menopause, but they’re not the only culprit. Menopause causes a drop in our hormone levels, including estrogen. Estrogen helps us fall asleep and promotes a better quality of sleep. So when estrogen levels fall, so does our ability to get a good night’s sleep. That’s why sleeplessness is a common menopause symptom for so many women.
2. Are my sleep problems caused by menopause?
They can be. Women with a history of insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome may have worse symptoms during menopause. It’s also possible to develop sleep disorders during perimenopause or the early stages of menopause. So even if you have no history of sleeplessness (lucky!), it’s entirely possible that new sleep issues could arise as the first signs of perimenopause.
3. If I have hot flashes, will I get night sweats?
Not necessarily. All women experience the stages and symptoms of menopause differently. Some women will only have hot flashes, some only night sweats, and some unfortunate souls will have both.
It’s also important to note that both hot flashes and night sweats will vary in severity from woman to woman. So it’s possible to have mild night sweats that can be prevented more easily with a regular bedtime, cool bedroom temperature, and a lack of caffeine. But others may have night sweats so severe that they completely disrupt any chance of a good night’s sleep - in that case, check in with your doctor.
4. Is there nothing I can do to sleep better during menopause?
Good news! There are steps you can take to get a better night’s sleep during menopause. The Sleep Foundation recommends very consistent bedtimes and wake-up times to help get yourself on a regular sleep schedule. Next, pay close attention to your sleep environment. Keep your bedroom as cool as you can to help keep your body temperature down. Also, consider keeping a bucket of ice near your bed if you need to cool down quickly. Finally, skip alcohol and tobacco, as they are known sleep disruptors.
5. Will melatonin help me sleep better during menopause?
Possibly, but melatonin is not a long-term solution for any sleep disorder. Here’s the deal: melatonin helps regulate sleep, it doesn’t initiate sleep. It can help you get to sleep earlier, but it won’t knock you out cold. What’s more, it only works for about one-third of people who take it - so if your menopause-related sleep disorder is serious, melatonin won’t do a whole lot for you. It’s also possible that melatonin elevates blood sugar levels, so diabetics should avoid it.
Get to the bottom of sleeplessness and menopause myths
Sleep disorders are the worst. No woman wants to deal with feeling drained 24/7, especially with all of the other stressors that life has in store for us. When it comes to menopause and sleeplessness, do your research and talk to your doctor to find the solutions that work best for you. And know that you can count on FemmePharma to continue supporting and educating people on the conditions and issues that disproportionately affect women.