Menopause is not a new phenomenon.
Of more than 108.2 billion people who have ever lived, roughly half are women, and ALL who have clocked up a reasonably full lifespan, have lived and slept through this somewhat oddly-named mid-life change (not crisis) called menopause.
A maturity milestone, perhaps better renamed women-Oh!-pause, given it marks the end of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle.
Truth be known, if you’re a woman, menopause is just a blip on this transitional journey or, more precisely, the exact moment the calendar flips 12 full months since your last ‘period’. Period.
Blink and you’ll miss it! From that moment on (which for most women occurs around the half-century mark), you’re technically in post-menopause. The actual transitional journey, including the 364 days from your last period, is called perimenopause.
Not to be confused with peri peri seasoning, although for many women just as ‘hot’, this phase typically lasts three to five years, and is virtually impossible to miss.
Usually starting in your mid-to-late 40s, perimenopause is when hot flushes and night sweats first emerge, impacting sleep, mood and next-day alertness (#hello #brainfog).
At the Goodnight Co., we don’t claim to be experts on the journey to menopause, which for a small percentage of women can happen before the age of 40 (premature menopause) or 45 (early menopause). We do, however, spend our waking hours curating innovative and evidence-based sleep health products and programs to help you create better days, through better sleep, at every life stage.
Importantly, if, like most women, you experience disrupted sleep on your transitional journey to menopause, you don’t have to take it lying down (at least, not tossing and turning, trying to get to sleep). We firmly believe knowledge is power. So, ladies, listen up! Quality sleep – and doing everything you can to keep your sleep health routine on track – is vitally important long before, and after, menopause.
Adding it up!
According to research conducted by the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 32.5% of pre-menopausal women sleep less than seven hours a night, rising to 56% during perimenopause, then dropping to 40.5% post-menopause.
- 16.8% of pre-menopausal women experience difficulty falling asleep four or more times a week, rising to 24.8% during perimenopause, and 27.1% post-menopause.
- 23.7% of pre-menopausal women have trouble staying asleep through the night, rising to 30.8% during perimenopause, and 35.9% post-menopause.
- 47% of pre-menopausal women wake feeling tired at least four days a week, rising to 49.9% during perimenopause, and 55.1% post-menopause.
Did you know? Women (and girls) are classified ‘pre-menopausal’ as soon as they commence menstruation. During this period, fluctuating hormonal levels (especially just before and during menstruation) can lead to disturbed sleep, headaches, cramping, anxiety and low mood.
"I see menopause as the start of the next fabulous phase of life as a woman. Now is a time to ‘tune in’ to our bodies and embrace this new chapter."
Actress, Kim Cattrall, who famously played Samantha Jones in Sex and the City
Menopause is driven by the decline of key hormones (estrogen, progesterone and, to a lesser extent, testosterone), which work together to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and reproductive function in tandem with mood, energy, sexual drive, cognitive and emotional health, and sleep.
Yes, it’s a hot topic!
Hot flushes affect 75 to 85 per cent of women during the transition to menopause. While most women experience hot flushes for two years or less, 25 per cent experience them up to five years! One hot flush lasts approximately three minutes and can happen multiple times, day and night. At night, hot flushes are often more severe, and called night sweats. While they are short-lived, they can drench sheets and sleepwear, resulting in frequent awakenings and next-day fatigue.
What causes hot flushes?
Researchers point to fluctuating levels of estrogen in the lead-up to menopause. Notably, a sudden drop in estrogen levels causes body temperature to become less stable, sometimes accompanied by surges of adrenaline. This creates a similar chemical response to a flight-or-fight scenario. Little wonder your body has a hard time recovering and falling back to sleep when hot flushes wake you during the night!
How to keep your cool in the heat of the moment
Whether or not you’re in the transition to menopause or, for that matter, a man or a woman, habitual sleep deprivation puts your health at serious risk. Indeed, evidence shows insufficient sleep (for adults, anything below seven to nine hours a night) increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and cancer, as well as impairing sound judgement, productivity and mental health.
The following simple tips are recommended for everyone (and particularly welcome if you suffer hot flushes and night sweats):
- Get your bedroom temperature right: The National Sleep Foundation recommends 18 – 22°C as the optimal sleep temperature. That’s because your body temperature naturally starts to drop as bedtime approaches, paving the way for a good night’s sleep. It’s important to maintain this happy equilibrium. Anything higher or lower than 18 – 22°C leads to disrupted sleep duration and quality. Set the temperature in your bedroom a degree cooler than the rest of the house.
- Get comfy: the right bedding and sleepwear cannot be overstated when it comes to quality sleep. Choose materials that offer comfort, but not too much heat. Cotton is ideal, silk even better. Along with being hypoallergenic, silk is temperature-regulating and anti-ageing (ensuring your skin stays soft and maintains moisture). Its natural properties also wick away excess moisture from your body, helping to overcome hot flushes and night sweats that disrupt sleep. The Goodnight Co.’s silk products are made from 22 Momme 100% Mulberry Silk.
- Try aromatherapy: Research suggests floral scents act on neurotransmitters to ease anxiety and promote sleep. Adding aromatherapy to your sleep sanctuary – especially lavender, cedarwood and gardenia – is proven to help induce sleep. The Goodnight Co. has a blissful range of essential oils, perfectly matched to your sleep-wake cycle… morning, noon and night!
Quality sleep is within your control
Behavioural changes, including dedicating time and space to the daily practice of your own personal sleep health routine, in conjunction with supportive sleep products and remedies, can help you ‘Sleep Well, Be Well’ through all stages of life.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated (dehydration leads to higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol); follow a healthy diet (eat more fresh fruit and veg, and choose magnesium-rich foods for better sleep); exercise (just 150 minutes a week improves sleep quality); greet the morning sun; cut back on coffee; stick to a regular sleep schedule (going to bed and getting up at the same time every day); limit screentime (especially before bedtime… no ifs or buts); and… breathe (controlled or mindful breathing techniques, associated with yoga and meditation, work wonders for sleep and stress).
One thing’s for sure! You’re not alone if you’re struggling to get enough quality sleep, particularly in challenging times. The Goodnight Co. has developed an easy-to-use guide that answers all your questions: 10 Steps / 10 Days: Your guide to Sleep Well, Be Well
#Ahem… I am woman hear me… snore!
Did you know? Snoring is more common in post-menopausal women, and, together with pauses or gasps in breathing, can be a warning sign of the clinical sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re worried about any sleep-related problem or health issue, make an appointment to talk to your GP.