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What is the Connection Between Menopause and Insomnia?

Perimenopause, menopause and insomnia often go hand in hand. The few years before periods finally cease and the immediate time afterwards are associated with significant sleep loss due to a variety of factors. These include hormonal changes, which create some symptoms of menopause such as difficulty with temperature regulation, hot flashes, low magnesium levels, and in some women, depression. Some additional effects of menopause, like increased weight gain, may also cause sleep symptoms such as sleep apnea, which results poor sleep or in waking often during the night.

One of the principal ways menopause and insomnia are related is due to the decline in estrogens that can alter the way the body controls temperature. This creates unusual warmth, which might result in waking during the night to take off covers or to put them back on if a person gets chilled. The most reported symptom that occurs frequently during perimenopause — and gradually ceases with menopause — is hot flashes. It’s very common for women to wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, and the amount of perspiration can be so heavy it necessitates changing clothing or sheets prior to going back to sleep. Some women are so disturbed by hot flashes they may not be able to easily fall back asleep after them, and instead remain sleep-deprived.

There is also a connection between menopause and insomnia that relates to the way declining levels of estrogen affect magnesium levels. Many women have lower levels of magnesium as female hormones decline, and this is thought to have a direct effect on sleep quality. Supplementation with magnesium might be of use, but may not be fully effective when other factors are also affecting sleep.

Menopause and insomnia may be most due to the mood changes that can affect some women during this time of life. Some women develop depression or anxiety conditions that can impair sleep. Ironically, poor sleep is also a predictor for development of depression, and it isn’t always easy to tell whether depression or insomnia came first. Doctors may treat insomnia and depression both, or they might attempt to regulate menopausal symptoms first through hormone replacement therapy. A combination of treatments might be necessary for symptom relief.

There is an increase in symptoms like sleep apnea during menopause. This may be attributed to weight gain associated with menopause or to hormonal factors influencing breathing during sleep. If weight gain is the principal cause, getting exercise and losing some weight might be of use, though weight loss during menopause is challenging. Working with a physician to develop a healthy diet plan and exercise regimen is advised.

Since menopause and insomnia are connected in numerous ways, insomnia remains a commonly reported symptom. Its effect on the body shouldn’t be underestimated and needs medical attention. Constant poor sleep leads to a variety of unpleasant symptoms like depression, mood changes, weight gain, and fatigue.

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