3 Ways Insomnia Affects Menopause Symptoms
We’ve covered insomnia in the past, but we haven’t gone into great depth about the variety of effects it has on the body, especially for women in menopause. As we age, many of our bodily functions begin to lose their effectiveness. Sleep helps maintain our bodily functions in many ways, and we become more dependent on quality sleep as we age in order to preserve our overall health.
Unfortunately, for many women, menopausal insomnia is a serious issue and directly impacts their health, as well as their menopausal symptoms.
Sleep and Memory
One of the many functions of sleep is to help our brains store information and memory. Both the quantity and quality of sleep helps our minds preserve our memory and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s recommended that people get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, 20 to 25 percent of which is the deepest part of sleep, REM sleep.
Insomnia affects not only how much sleep we get in a night, but the quality of sleep, too. Women who are affected by menopausal insomnia find it takes them longer to fall asleep. Additionally, they periodically wake up throughout the night, resulting in lower sleep quality as they cannot get enough REM sleep.
So how does insomnia result in memory loss and the development of memory loss conditions? One of the most significant forms of memory that we use every day is working memory. Working memory is the temporary storage of memory that you need to use in order to complete simple, day-to-day tasks. Individuals who are not sleep-deprived are better able to access this kind of memory immediately. In some ways, this type of memory access is like a default problem solver. However, individuals who suffer from sleep deprivation have a harder time accessing information they need to complete simple tasks, resulting in lowered working memory.
The accumulation of sleep-deprivation has a compounded effect on memory. If the mind can’t access quick information to perform daily tasks, it has a harder time accessing information in long-term memory as well. Conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease are the result of the gradual decrease in the brain’s ability to retrieve information quickly.
Sleep and The Immune System
Sleep helps preserve more than our memory. It also helps preserve our immune health. The immune system relies on a variety of different cells, proteins, and hormones in order to maintain itself. One of these elements is a protein called a cytokine. Cytokines are a type of protein that specifically targets infection and inflammation that occurs in the body.
Cytokines are produced and released throughout the body during sleep. So even while we're unaware of this, the body is still going to work while we sleep. With enough sleep, the body can produce and release cytokines more effectively throughout the body. Chronic sleep deprivation due to conditions like insomnia impacts how many cytokines are produced and released within the body. Sleep-deprivation can even make flu vaccinations less effective.
Protecting immune health during the menopausal transition is crucial, as hormonal changes alone can have many effects on immune system functions. Getting enough sleep can help reduce some of those effects by helping the body produce and release enough cytokines to combat inflammation and infections.
Sleep and Mood
One of the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms is mood swings. Regulating mood becomes more difficult as sex hormones fluctuate and decrease. However, insomnia can make it even more difficult for the brain to stabilize and regulate mood. But how can something as simple as sleep impact our ability to manage our moods and emotions?
During the menopausal transition, the imbalance of the sex hormones impacts the mood-regulating chemicals that get produced and released in the brain. Dopamine, serotonin, and many other neurotransmitters are responsible for helping improve and maintain mood and are all impacted by how estrogen interacts with them. So when estrogen levels begin to deplete, these neurotransmitters cannot be released as effectively, causing spikes in irritability and rapid changes in mood.
Insomnia compounds this problem. Sleep is what helps our brains regulate emotional states in response to stress. When we don’t get enough sleep, our brain cannot release enough mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters to counterbalance the levels of stress hormones (primarily cortisol). As a result, we became more prone to anxiety, depressive moods, and more prone to aggressive emotional responses.
Is There A Solution?
Menopausal insomnia is frustrating but it doesn’t have to be a losing battle. Finding ways to help your brain to produce and release sleep chemicals is your best step towards alleviating insomnia. There are a variety of things that you can do to help alleviate your insomnia. You can cut out insomnia triggers, change your sleeping environment, develop new sleeping habits, and maintain a regular exercise routine to help improve your sleep quality and reduce the risk of insomnia.
Introducing Well Rested
Well Rested is a sleep-aid developed to help menopausal women fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Well Rested is formulated with ingredients that specifically help increase levels of necessary sleep hormones and other sleep-inducing compounds in the brain. Combined, these ingredients can help alleviate menopausal insomnia in two key ways.
First, Well Rested can help relax the body. This is important especially for women because when they have difficulty sleeping, their bodies feel the most restless. The muscles can’t relax. Heart rate and blood pressure can’t lower. When the body is tense and unable to relax, it feeds into an information loop, sending signals to your brain that you’re still awake and alert, so your brain remains awake and alert until your body can relax.
Second, Well Rested can help boost sleep-inducing neurotransmitters in your brain. Well Rested is formulated with melatonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), tryptophan, and glycine, all of which can help your brain synthesize and release certain neurotransmitters more effectively. When combined, these compounds help lower neural activity in the brain, which helps lower alertness. They also help regulate your sleep cycles, improve how long you sleep, and improve the quality of sleep you get during the night.
Insomnia Isn't A Losing Battle
Menopausal insomnia can have serious, long-term impacts on your health but you can take control. There are ways in which you can help alleviate your insomnia through regular diet and exercise. You can also start your journey to better sleep by pre-ordering our Well Rested sleep aid. Insomnia doesn't have to be a struggle. You just need the right tools to help you fight back.