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How to get to sleep and stay asleep during the menopause

Sleep disturbances during and after menopause

Does this sound familiar?

” I sleep well, but still feel rubbish’‘

” I feel like I have hit a wall”

“My mood is always lowest when I’m awake during the night, these wakeful nights are really making me feel low”

” I can get to sleep but CAN’T stay asleep “

” I want to sleep but can’t and then I start feeling agitated “

These are real comments from real women experiencing menopause.

Many women experience sleep disturbances during and after menopause, as well as in the preceding years. Its so hard to know what is going on.

In 2016, research conducted on behalf of the British Menopause Society (BMS) revealed that 42% of women surveyed had menopausal symptoms that were worse or much worse than expected. One of these was sleep disturbance, with difficulty staying sleep being the most common problem.

 But how can you find a science-backed solution that will actually help you feel rested and refreshed?

Fixing Sleep Issues with the Power of Hypnosis

Using hypnosis to relieve menopause symptoms can reduce both the frequency and intensity of symptoms.  Symptoms such as hot flushes, digestive issues, low libido sweating and poor sleep to anxiety, brain fog and irritability can all be managed in a hypnotherapy session. In one study, hypnotherapy helped 67% of participants sleep more and increased their deep sleep by 80%.

For those women suffering with anxious thoughts or raging symptoms which are preventing sleep and staying asleep, then therapy can help. Hypnotherapy has been found to improve the quality of sleep and the length of sleep for women experiencing the menopause. The process of hypnotherapy works to reprogram the subconscious minds with different beliefs. This can then reframe your thoughts around sleep and help the mind and body to relax and let go of any sleep anxiety.

The Impact Of Poor Sleep

The quality of sleep declines for everyone as they age, but more so for women as the hit the menopause.  And it doesn’t just impact upon mood, energy and brain function in the short term. Poor sleep has long-term effects, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia and obesity, reduced immunity and depression. So getting a good quality sleep is crucial.

Experiencing a few nights of bad sleep can then manifest into a cycle of poor sleep. You may then start to focus on or worry about the thought patterns or behaviours that are ruining your sleep.

As soon as you experience several sleepless nights, then you may become anxious about your poor sleep. You may then worry about your sleep, which could be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Why Menopause Affects Sleep

 The change in hormone levels (oestrogen and progesterone) has a direct effect on the sleep cycle beyond hot flushes and night sweats. Melatonin levels decrease as we age and makes the circadian system (the part of our body which regulates sleep)confused. Other ways sleep affects menopausal women include:

  • Hot flushes and night sweats
  • Insomnia and mood disorders: Mood changes are common in menopause and include depression, anxiety and irritability. Anxiety can make it difficult to get to sleep and depression can be a factor in restless sleep and early morning waking. However menopausal sleep disturbance may actually be the underlying cause of anxiety and depression.
  • Bladder Control : A 2015 study revealed that 45%-63% of menopausal women experienced bladder and vaginal symptoms including needing to urinate during the night, soreness and irritation, and painful sex. The decline in oestrogen leads to the thinning, drying and inflammation of the delicate tissues in the bladder and vagina, which can cause sleep disturbance.
  • Irritation : Flare-ups of vaginal thrush, bacterial vaginosis, bladder infections, overactive bladder syndrome, vulvodynia and lichen sclerosus are also common in menopause. This makes it hard for the body to settle for a restful nights sleep.
  • Musculoskeletal issues: Many women experience joint pain at menopause, and aching, twitching muscles. Chronic pain such as fibromyalgia may worsen at menopause, and women with restless leg syndrome begins or is exacerbated.
  • Breathing issues: Issues with sleep-disordered breathing such as apnoea are more common after menopause. Reasons may include weight gain, and lowered levels of progesterone as this hormone influences the respiratory system. Many women report increased snoring or vocalizations while sleeping affecting both themselves and their partner.

How to help yourself sleep better

Medication For Sleep

Currently, there are no sleeping tablets that can help create a natural, healthy sleep. Standard sleeping pills work as a sedative and essentially knock out your brain.However, they don’t help you to have a natural, healthy sleep. Furthermore, when you stop taking sleeping tablets, it can cause rebound insomnia. Women in perimenopause who are experiencing sleep problems are often wrongly treated with sleeping pills for insomnia, when in fact it is declining hormone levels that are the cause.

Interestingly, talking therapy has been proven to be just as effective as sleeping pills, without the adverse effects that medication can cause.

Melatonin is often a supplement that is recommended for sleep. It can help reset your body clock, which can be helpful if you’re struggling to sleep because of jetlag and the circadian rhythm being out of whack. However, there is no research to suggest it can help maintain a sleep schedule in an average, healthy person or for menopausal women.

Habits for getting to sleep

Maintaining healthy habits around sleep hygiene can be incredibly effective. 

Other tips for sleep hygiene include:

  • Keep your bedroom cool
  • Ensure it is dark with blackout blinds – also dim lights in the evening and avoid screens an hour before bed
  • Avoid alcohol and only consume caffeine before midday
  • If you’ve been awake for longer than 20 minutes, move to another room, try reading or meditation until you feel sleepy and return to bed
  • Get natural sunlight within half an hour of waking and at sunset (outside, not through glass). A recent study shows that melatonin production and the circadian rhythms that govern sleep and wakefulness are set by early morning light exposure.
  • Take regular exercise, even if it’s just a 30-minute stroll once a day, though not within two hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid daytime napping, or make sure a nap is no more than 30 minutes and in the early afternoon. Meditation, mindfulness or other ‘non-sleep deep rest’ (NSDR) exercises are more beneficial than sleeping during the day.
  • Avoid having a ‘lie in’ if you haven’t slept well, and opt for NSDR exercises during the day instead.

How to treat sleep disorders during menopause

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

HRT can improve sleep quality, making it easier to get off to sleep, with less night-time waking; it has also been shown to improve chronic pain, mood and genitourinary symptoms. You should discuss HRT with your doctor.

Supplements and complementary therapies

There are various alternatives to HRT, or therapies that can be used in conjunction with HRT to ease the symptoms of menopause.

Yoga, acupuncture, and massage have all been shown to have beneficial effects on well-being and may help with relaxation and sleep.There is limited evidence to show that supplements such as magnolia bark, L-theanine, magnesium, 5-HTP and valerian can help induce better sleep – and black cohosh and red clover are purported to reduce night sweats. Phytoestrogens from plants including soya, tofu, chickpeas and nuts also act like a weaker form of oestrogen in the body.

Not all supplements contain pure ingredients or high enough levels to have a therapeutic effect, and they may induce side effects or have contra-indications with other medications.

Always consult your doctor before using supplements, and discuss other treatments including HRT, with your GP in the first instance.

Hypnosis for Sleep

Unlike medication or habits, hypnotherapy goes deeper than the early stages of sleep. While hypnotherapy promotes relaxation, which can induce the hypnagogic stage of sleep, hypnotherapy can then enable deeper sleep by inhibiting fear pathways and eliminating negative thoughts by rewiring the brain for a deeper, restful and peaceful sleep.

One of the major benefits of hypnotherapy for sleep is that it sets the scene and releases the blocks that are in the way of natural sleep, something which sleep medication cannot do. It can also help manage restless leg syndrome , create a cooling effect to give greater control over hot flashes and can help prevent them altogether. Hypnosis is a powerful tool in helping you reconnect and gain control of your own body.

Furthermore, it works to retrain the subconscious so you can maintain this healthy, relaxing sleep pattern for the future. This means that falling asleep can feel easy and natural going forward.

Improve your sleep

If you want to find out more about how hypnotherapy can improve you get to sleep and stay asleep, I offer complimentary consultations. To book your free initial call, email hypnosisinyorkshire@gmail.com

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