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Sleep your way through the menopause

Friday March 18, 2022
Sleep your way through the menopause

Although a natural process of ageing in women, the menopause can lead to the body behaving differently with sleep disruption being a common symptom. The good news is research has shown nutrition can help with putting to bed those sleepless nights. Read our guide on how not to lose sleep during the menopause.


Recognising sleep issues during the menopause

 

Menopausal symptoms can vary widely between women, however a common complaint which is estimated to impact up to 40% of menopausal women[1], is difficulty with sleeping.


Causes of sleep disturbances include hot flushes and night sweats, insomnia, breathing issues such as sleep apnea and mood related disorders.


There are also a number of dietary and lifestyle factors that can affect sleep quantity and quality and a certain life stage in women which can also have a negative impact is the menopause.


How hormonal shifts during menopause impacted sleep

 

During the menopause there is a marked change in sex hormone levels, in particular oestrogen. The ovaries produce less oestrogen, leading to the cessation of eggs being released from the ovaries and therefore a halt in menstrual cycles. Additionally, progesterone production also significantly reduces during this time. These huge changes in sex hormones have a contributing factor to sleep[2] and various other areas of health including mood, appetite and libido.  


Oestrogen and progesterone play a key role in body temperature regulation therefore it is understandable that when these levels significantly alter during the menopause, there is a severe impact on body temperature control leading to symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats.[3]  


Connections have also been made between the decline in sex hormones and poor mood. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, studies have found that hormone replacement therapy had positive effects on those with low mood and depression suggesting a clear link.[2] In turn, poor mood and depression has been linked to insomnia and therefore maybe a cause of poor sleep for those during the menopause.[3] 


Tips to sleep better during the menopause

 

Diet and lifestyle choices can influence menopausal symptoms including sleep issues.

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol particularly in the late afternoon and evenings has shown to improve sleep patterns.[4]
  • Maintain a healthy weight and weight loss in those who are overweight has demonstrated improvements in the severity of hot flushes.[5] 
  • Food supplementation may also help. For example, magnesium has been studied for insomnia[6], additionally, pilot trials have also seen the benefits of magnesium supplementation with hot flushes and night sweating.[7] Magnesium has also been investigated for its use in improving mood disorders[8] which we have seen, can have an effect on sleep. 

Sage extract has also been well researched for the improvement of night sweats and hot flushes so can be considered as an additional support to reduce the symptoms of the menopause, which lead to poor sleep.[9]


For more information on diet, lifestyle and food supplements or for a confidential chat, please visit your local health store. To find your nearest one visit findahealthstore.com.


Author: Aimée Benbow, BSc (Hons), MSc, ANutr. is Director of Nutrition at Viridian Nutrition.


References

  1. Joffe H, Massler A, Sharkey KM. Evaluation and management of sleep disturbance during the menopause transition. Semin Reprod Med. 2010 Sep;28(5):404-21. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1262900. Epub 2010 Sep 15. PMID: 20845239; PMCID: PMC3736837.

  2. Schmidt, P.J. and Rubinow, D.R., 2009. Sex hormones and mood in the perimenopause. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1179(1), pp.70-85.

  3. Jansson-Fröjmark, M. and Lindblom, K., 2008. A bidirectional relationship between anxiety and depression, and insomnia? A prospective study in the general population. Journal of psychosomatic research, 64(4), pp.443-449.

  4. Spadola CE, Guo N, Johnson DA, Sofer T, Bertisch SM, Jackson CL, Rueschman M, Mittleman MA, Wilson JG, Redline S. Evening intake of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine: night-to-night associations with sleep duration and continuity among African Americans in the Jackson Heart Sleep Study. Sleep. 2019 Oct 21;42(11):zsz136. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsz136. PMID: 31386152; PMCID: PMC6802565.

  5. Thurston, R.C., Ewing, L.J., Low, C.A., Christie, A.J. and Levine, M.D., 2015. Behavioral weight loss for the management of menopausal hot flashes: a pilot study. Menopause (New York, NY), 22(1), p.59.

  6. Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 17(12), 1161–1169.

  7. Park, H., Parker, G.L., Boardman, C.H., Morris, M.M. and Smith, T.J., 2011. A pilot phase II trial of magnesium supplements to reduce menopausal hot flashes in breast cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 19(6), pp.859-863.

  8. Tarleton, E.K., Littenberg, B., MacLean, C.D., Kennedy, A.G. and Daley, C., 2017. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PloS one, 12(6), p.e0180067.

  9. Rad, S.K., Forouhari, S., Dehaghani, A.S., Vafaei, H., Sayadi, M. and Asadi, M., 2016. The effect of salvia officinalis tablet on hot flashes, night sweating, and estradiol hormone in postmenopausal women. International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences, 5(8), pp.257-263.


The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.

 

TAGS: Women's HealthSleep

 

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