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Interrupted Sleep

The prevalence of interrupted sleep during menopause:

Insomnia is the most common sleep problem in menopausal women. According to a recent study, up to half of women in menopause experience this symptom.

Interrupted sleep generally refers to any condition in which the normal sleep pattern is disrupted. Despite not being as dangerous as other menopause symptoms, interrupted sleep can disrupt rest cycles and interfere with daily routine. The increased stress from low-quality sleep can also make menopause symptoms worse overall.

In addition to insomnia, problems that can lead to interrupted sleep during menopause include:

Sleep disorder symptom
  • Snoring  
  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Night sweats

These sleep issues can cause one to awake in the middle of the night, upsetting sleep cycles and potentially making it hard to fall asleep again.

What Causes Interrupted Sleep?

The causes of interrupted sleep as a menopause symptom can be divided into two distinct categories: psychological and physical. The methods for treating each cause are listed below:

Psychological  

sleep disorders

Psychological causes involve overwork or general day-to-day stress and worry. Anxiety - another potential symptom of menopause - can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, which in turn hampers a regular sleep schedule.

In order to treat sleep problems with a psychological root, relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga may help. These practices induce tranquility and help put the mind at ease before bed. For severe cases of anxiety, a physician or counselor can provide guidance.

Physical

The physiological reasons for interrupted sleep as a menopause symptom are directly linked to an imbalance of hormone levels in the body. During menopause, as a woman's menstrual cycle draws to a close, estrogen levels shift drastically. Estrogen is a hormone that regulates the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, which are related to sleep patterns. Therefore, changes in estrogen levels can negatively impact sleep regulation.

In order to treat hormone imbalance and sleep problems, many women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which introduces artificial hormones into the body, but I have linked of increase risk of cancer. Women have also been known to use alternative treatment methods, such as phytoestrogenic or hormone-regulating herbal supplements.

Although around half of middle-aged women experience interrupted sleep as a menopause symptom, they need not suffer. Click on the following link to learn more about menopausal sleep problems and greater detail on how to alleviate them.

Sources:
  • Breus, Michael. "Menopause and Sleep". MedicineNet.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • Walsleben, Joyce M.D. "Ask the sleep expert: menopause and insomnia". National Sleep Foundation.
  • "Your Guide to Healthy Sleep". National Institute of Health, April 2006.