Menopause can affect so many parts of your life and make maintaining health and wellness a bit more of a chore than before. It can take more effort than before to get everyday things under control both physically and emotionally.

Sleep is often an area of life that is negatively impacted by menopause. Menopausal women often have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep for the appropriate amount of time. Sleep issues are caused by several things related to menopause.

Why Does Menopause Cause Sleep Problems?

As if it was not enough for menopause to cause issues in your daily life, it can also wreak havoc on your nightly sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has helpful information on the menopausal causes of sleep loss.

Hormones are at the core of sleep loss during menopause. Menopause can cause hot flashes, mood disorders like depression, disordered breathing, and insomnia. Obviously, insomnia is going to result in sleep loss, but the other symptoms can contribute to poor sleep.

 Hot flashes can occur during the night and cause frequent awakenings, which severely impacts sleep quality, if not total sleep time. These hot flashes may include profuse sweating, often referred to as night sweats.

Snoring and disordered breathing during sleep may also increase in menopausal and post-menopausal women. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious manifestation of these breathing problems and require treatment.

What Treatments are Available? 

As is the case with most menopausal issues, many treatments involve Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). In cases where hormone treatments are not ideal in a particular case, there are non-hormonal medications, and alternative ways to potentially treat menopause-related sleep problems.

  •  Hormone Replacement Therapy: There are several types of hormone therapies available to women. They include bioidentical hormones, synthetic hormones and combinations of the aforementioned. Bioidentical hormones are biologically identical to the hormones women produce in their ovaries: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Hormone replacement therapy can alleviate symptoms by providing the body with adequate hormones for the body to function well.
  • Nonhormonal Medication: A doctor may also recommend non-hormonal medications to treat symptoms in lieu of hormone replacement therapy.
    • Antidepressants can not only treat depression and mental health issues caused by menopause, but also vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes.
    • Brisdelle is medication containing a very low dose of paroxetine, which is branded as Paxil, and is approved only for the treatment of night sweats and hot flashes. The dose is too low to effectively treat depression.
    • Gabapentin can decrease the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats.
    • Clonidine is a hypertension medication that may help with vasomotor symptoms but usually not as effectively as the medications mentioned above.
  • Alternative Medicine: Some women opt to try alternative medicine for relief from menopause symptoms like sleep loss. While many studies have not confirmed the efficacy of some of these treatments, there is a lot of anecdotal and even some scientific support for these methods. After all, many of them have been practiced for centuries. The two main veins of alternative medicine people try are Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and homeopathy.
  • Sleep Apnea Treatment: Treating sleep apnea that is linked to menopause should also bring some relief and improve sleep quality. The most common and effective treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous airway pressure device, commonly known as a CPAP. CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and mouth and keeps the airway open throughout the night by gently blowing air on it. Other treatments include dental devices and surgical intervention. Less invasive lifestyle changes like weight loss, sleeping on the side rather than the back, quitting smoking, and avoiding alcohol can also improve symptoms.

Chapel Hill Gynecology can help you with treating menopause-related sleep issues. Dr. Karen Clark is an expert in treating menopause and helping women through that transition. She has been a Certified Menopause Practitioner of the North American Menopause Society for 15 years. Dr. Clark uses a variety of hormone therapies, specializing in bioidentical hormone therapy. Chapel Hill Gynecology can help you with a treatment plan to improve your mental and physical functions. To learn more about how we can help you get some sleep, call (919) 960-2720 to schedule an appointment