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Sleep in Perimenopause

The time leading up to menopause, called perimenopause, involves significant changes in a person's body. Many people experience sleep problems during this time. We know that good sleep is important for overall health. Let’s talk about why sleep can be tough during perimenopause and ways to improve it.


As people approach menopause, usually in their late 40s to early 50s, hormone changes can mess up their sleep. The overall decline and daily fluctuations in estrogen can cause hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, all of which can make it hard to sleep well.


Here are some common sleep problems during perimenopause:

  • Hot flashes and night sweats: Sudden waves of heat and sweating can wake you up often during the night.

  • Mood swings and anxiety: Hormonal changes can make you feel moody and anxious, which can also affect your sleep.

  • Hormone fluctuations: Changes in hormone levels can lead to insomnia, where you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep.


Tips for better sleep:

  • Stick to a relaxing bedtime routine: Read, stretch, or try meditation before bed to help your body wind down.

  • Limit electronics before bed: This is most important for cellphones, but we want to limit all electronics that you hold close to your face and are really engaging.

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to train your body when to sleep.

  • Make your bedroom comfy: Keep it cool, dark, and quiet for better sleep.

  • Limit activities in bed: Keep your bed for sleep and sex. Try to avoid doing other activities in bad, like doing work or watching TV.


  • Stay active: Regular exercise (like yoga, walking, etc.) can help you sleep better, but avoid vigorous activity close to bedtime.

  • Don’t nap too much: Keep naps short, and don’t nap too close to bedtime.

  • Talk to a healthcare provider: If sleep problems continue, they can suggest treatments like hormone therapy that can manage symptoms and improve sleep.

  • Use Sleep Aids Wisely: If your healthcare provider recommends sleep aids, use them as directed. However, these should be a last resort as dependency on sleep aids can be counterproductive to overall sleep wellness.

  • Further support: If the tips and techniques above are not helping with your difficulty with sleep you may want to consider a more intensive sleep intervention. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a structured and evidence-based therapeutic approach designed to treat insomnia by addressing the thoughts, behaviours, and habits that contribute to sleep difficulties. It is considered the first-line treatment for chronic insomnia and has been proven effective in helping individuals improve their sleep quality without the use of medications.


Supporting a partner going through perimenopause, especially when this may be something you have not experience yourself, requires empathy, patients, and a willingness to adapt.


Here are some ways partners can provide support:

Tips for partners:

  • Educate yourself: Take time to learn about perimenopause and associated difficulties like sleep. Understanding the physical and emotional changes your loved one is experiencing can help your open communication and empathy.

  • Listen actively: Encourage your loved one to share their thoughts and feelings about perimenopause and sleep difficulties. Actively listen without judgment or trying to “solve the problem”, validating their experiences. Sometimes, just having someone who will listen can provide relief.

  • Be patient and understanding: Recognize that perimenopause is a challenging time for your loved one, both physically and emotionally. Be patient with mood swings, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns. Understand that these symptoms are often beyond their control.

  • Assist with sleep environment: Create a comfortable sleep environment. Adjust the bedroom temperature, invest in comfortable bedding, and minimize noise and light to promote better sleep quality. Consider a fan or other cooling methods to help with night sweats. Remember you can always put layers on to help accommodate the temperature of the sleep environment, but there are only so many layers of clothes your partner can take off.

  • Encourage relaxation techniques: Suggest and support relaxation techniques before bedtime. This could include activities like reading, gentle stretching, or practicing mindfulness together. These activities can help alleviate stress and contribute to better sleep.

  • Be adaptable: Understand that your partner's sleep patterns may change. Be flexible with your own routines and schedules to accommodate their needs. If they need sleep-related changes, support them in taking the time to prioritize sleep.

  • Offer practical assistance: Help with household chores or tasks that may be causing stress. Reducing their workload can alleviate some of the stressors contributing to sleep difficulties.

  • Attend medical appointments together (if they want you to): Accompany your partner to medical appointments, especially if they are seeking professional guidance for their sleep issues. Being involved in their healthcare journey shows your support and commitment. This is also important if you share a bed, as there may be recommended changes that impact both your routines and sleep.

  • Show your love and affection: Remind your partner that you love and appreciate them. Small gestures of affection can go a long way in providing emotional support during this challenging time.

  • Encourage professional help: If sleep disturbances persist, (gently) encourage your partner to seek professional help. A healthcare provider can offer tailored advice and potential treatments to address specific sleep issues.


Remember, everyone is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Communication and support are key during this time of change. If sleep problems persist, seeking help from healthcare professionals can offer personalized solutions for better sleep.

 

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