How Does Menopause Impact Your Sleep?
Menopause has a ripple effect on every system in the body from the immune system to the skin. Women can experience close to 40 menopausal symptoms throughout their lifetimes, and while the most commonly known menopausal symptoms include things like hot flashes and mood swings, insomnia is one of the most common issues for women to face in their menopausal journeys.
Insomnia is a sleep deprivation condition in which the individual has difficulty falling asleep quickly and staying asleep easily. Insomnia can affect up to 60 percent or more of women in different stages of menopause. So, what’s the relationship between menopause and insomnia? Why does insomnia increase during the menopausal transition?
Impacts Brain Chemicals
Estrogen impacts every system in the body from head to toe, but its impact on the brain is one of the most significant. The brain is full of chemical compounds that direct the body through a series of signals. When estrogen begins to fluctuate and deplete during the menopausal transition, it impacts how effectively these chemicals are produced and released in the brain. When certain neurochemicals are interrupted by menopause, it can increase sleep deprivation, particularly insomnia.
There are neurotransmitters, often referred to as sleep hormones, that help prepare the body for sleep. Each of them performs a different function to help induce sleep. The three primary sleep hormones that regulate sleep are serotonin, melatonin, and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). The drop in estrogen affects all three of these sleep hormones, which causes insomnia. So what do each of these sleep hormones do to induce sleep?
Keeps Brain Activity High
GABA is responsible for helping lower brain activity when it’s time to sleep. Neurons in the brain fire rapidly when you’re awake and alert. This high activity is beneficial when completing tasks and getting through the workday, but when it comes time to fall asleep, it can become a problem. If you’ve ever experienced an inability to “turn your brain off” when going to bed, you’ve experienced this problem. Low GABA levels make it more difficult for your brain to lower neural activity, which keeps you awake for longer.
Makes Muscles Tight
Of course, low GABA levels causes more than just high neural activity. Low GABA levels can also make it more difficult for your muscles to relax. When combined, GABA and serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps stabilize mood, the body goes into a relaxed state. Muscles begin to relax, losing their tension, helping your brain to register that the body is ready for rest.
During the menopausal transition, muscle tension can increase due to the drop in estrogen. Low levels of estrogen can lead to high levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which raises blood pressure and cause strain on the muscles. This makes them extremely tense and, over time, weakens muscles. The body attempts to fix this through rest, but when the muscles can’t relax, it compounds the problem and increases insomnia.
Keeps Heart Rate High
You’re probably most familiar with the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for regulating the circadian rhythm. It helps dictate when to wake up, when to go to sleep, and even when to eat. It also helps regulate heart rate and body temperature during sleep. When the body is preparing for sleep, melatonin released in the brain signals the body to lower the heart rate.
Imbalances in estrogen and progesterone can inhibit the production and release of melatonin in the brain. When melatonin isn’t effectively regulated it impacts your body’s circadian rhythm, forces your heart rate to stay high, and makes it harder to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep longer.
Increases Night Sweats
Hot flashes are one of the most commonly known menopausal symptoms, and while many think of hot flashes as a daily occurrence, they can also be a nightly nuisance. Night sweats are essentially just hot flashes a woman experiences at night, and while it’s not unusual to experience, it contributes significantly to sleep deprivation and insomnia.
Sleeping in a puddle of sweat while the body continues to heat up from the inside out is not a comfortable sleeping environment to be in. Night sweats can cause women to wake up periodically throughout the night in an effort to cool themselves down and make it difficult to fall back asleep and get enough quality sleep later on in the night.
So What Can You Do?
Insomnia has a negative impact on your overall health, especially as you progress through the menopausal transition. Finding ways to help manage insomnia and lower instances of sleep deprivation are crucial to protecting your health. That’s why we’ve created a new sleep-aid to help support insomnia relief. Well Rested is specially formulated with specific compounds to help relax the brain and the body. Order your first bottle of Well Rested today and try it out!