Menopause and sleep

I'm lying in bed well past midnight, expecting my 18-year-old son to come home from a party. When I hear the key in the lock and his footsteps in the hallway, I feel my pulse slow down a bit. However, when he is finally home, it is as if the peace of my own mind refuses to set in. This reminds me of the time when I was breastfeeding my children. I was awake almost every hour, to the point of breastfeeding in the dark and googling "sleep deprivation and torture". I chuckle about it now, but I remember how close I came to losing my mind from sheer exhaustion. Because, in fact, sleep deprivation is used as torture in some countries. I ended up reading it. Fair enough, too, because it can be really horrible! But now it's a different dance. Every night when I go to bed I wonder: Will I fall asleep peacefully or lie awake staring at the ceiling? Will I be asleep right away or tossing and turning for hours? This is so unpredictable. I wonder sometimes if I'm in the early stages of menopause or if it's just the endless thoughts in my head that keep me awake. But one thing I have noticed: there is a clear link between my sleep and my running. When I run, I sleep better. It's as if every step of the way clears my head and prepares me for rest. It's a simple but effective insight. Because knowing and understanding yourself is perhaps the first and most important step in making conscious choices to manage sleep, menopause and life in general 


Following menopause, the production of both estrogen and progesterone decreases dramatically. This can cause significant disruption to the sleep cycle. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings during the night and a reduction in deep sleep. Reduced estrogen levels can lead to shorter REM sleep periods and an increased amount of light sleep, resulting in waking up more easily and feeling less rested in the morning. A study from the National Sleep Foundation highlights the extent of the problem: 61% of menopausal women report sleep problems, compared to just 35% before menopause. This shows a direct link between hormonal changes and sleep problems.


Estrogen and progesterone affect sleep in several ways. Estrogen helps maintain a smooth sleep cycle and contributes to deeper stages of sleep. On the other hand, progesterone has calming properties that can make it easier to fall asleep. Therefore, when levels of these hormones drop during menopause, it can lead to significant changes in sleep quality.

🌺 The role of estrogen in the sleep cycle

Estrogen is not only important for reproduction and sexual health, but it also has a direct impact on sleep. This hormone helps regulate the sleep cycle and ensures that we spend enough time in each sleep phase. Especially important is its role in promoting deeper stages of sleep, which are critical to the body's recovery and repair during the night. A study in the 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism' has shown that estrogen helps to maintain REM sleep, a phase of the sleep cycle that is important for cognitive function and memory.

🌺 Progesterone and its calming effects

Progesterone, often considered the 'calming hormone', plays an important role in the sleep process. This hormone has natural calming properties and helps to facilitate falling asleep. Progesterone acts as a natural counterbalance to the body's stress hormones and helps create a sense of calm and relaxation at bedtime. Research in Sleep Medicine Reviews has confirmed that progesterone can act as a mild sleep aid and contribute to more restful sleep.


One of the most significant effects of reduced estrogen production is its impact on the body's ability to regulate temperature. estrogen affects the hypothalamus, the brain's centre for temperature control. When estrogen levels drop, this can lead to temperature fluctuations that often manifest as hot flushes and night sweats. A study in the journal 'Menopause' found that around 75-85% of women experience hot flushes during menopause. These temperature changes can severely disrupt sleep, causing awakenings during the night and making it difficult to get back to sleep.


The result of these hormonal changes is often fragmented sleep, with women waking up repeatedly during the night. This disrupts the natural sleep cycle and reduces the amount of deep sleep, which is essential for the body's recovery and wellbeing. It can also lead to a reduction in total sleep time and a feeling of not being rested the next day.


An interesting theory emerging from the research is that older women may actually be biologically adapted to cope with less sleep. A study published in 'Sleep Medicine' suggests that evolutionarily, it may have been advantageous for older women to be more alert during the night, possibly to provide protection or care. This theory, while still under investigation, suggests that the post-menopausal sleep changes may have a deeper biological basis.


A study in Menopause Journal compared postmenopausal women in different countries and found that sleep problems were more prevalent in Western countries than in non-Western countries. This may be due to a combination of factors, including cultural attitudes to menopause, lifestyle and dietary habits and environmental factors. Research on menopause and sleep problems has revealed interesting geographical differences in how women experience these challenges. By taking a closer look at how different countries and regions deal with menopause, we can gain a deeper understanding of these differences.


In Western countries, including the United States and much of Europe, a higher incidence of sleep problems is reported among postmenopausal women. This phenomenon has several possible explanations:

🌺 Cultural attitudes

In the Western world, there may be a greater tendency to see the menopause as a medical issue rather than a natural part of life. This can lead to more stress and worry about menopausal symptoms, including sleep problems.

🌺 Lifestyle

Women in Western countries may have more stressful lifestyles, with higher workloads and less time for relaxation and exercise, which can affect sleep quality.

🌺 Dietary habits

Western diets, which are often rich in processed foods, can also play a role. A poor diet can affect hormone balance and contribute to sleep problems.

Read the Menopause and Skin blog here!


In non-western countries, including parts of Asia and Africa, lower prevalence of sleep problems is generally reported among menopausal women.

🌺 Cultural factors

In many non-Western countries, menopause is seen as a more natural and accepted part of ageing. This can reduce the stress and anxiety associated with menopause.

🌺 Lifestyle and tradition

Traditional lifestyles, which often include more physical activity and less stress, as well as the use of traditional medicine and natural remedies, can contribute to a better quality of sleep.

🌺 Diet

Diets that are rich in natural foods and less processed products can have a positive impact on hormonal balance and thus reduce sleep problems.


Despite the challenges that come with menopause and sleep, there are also positive aspects that should be highlighted. A study in the "Journal of Women's Health" found that many women experience a renewed sense of freedom and independence after menopause, which can contribute to better mental health and thus improved sleep quality. This increased sense of well-being can counteract some of the negative effects of sleep disorders, which can be comforting 

Read the blog “I'm a climacteric lady” here!


Research has shown that lifestyle changes can have a positive effect on sleep. A study from the Cleveland Clinic highlights the importance of avoiding caffeine and alcohol, as well as regular physical activity. These measures can help improve sleep and reduce the frequency of hot flashes. For women navigating through menopause, challenges with sleep can be a big part of everyday life. But there are several strategies that can help improve sleep quality. However, it is important to remember that every woman is unique and it may take some experimentation to find what works best for you 


🌺 Regular exercise

Regular physical activity can help improve sleep quality. Exercise not only acts as a stress reliever, but can also help regulate body temperature, which is particularly useful for women who experience hot flushes.

🌺 Relaxing evening routines

Create a relaxing routine before bedtime. This could mean reading a book, meditating, taking a warm bath or listening to calm music. These activities can signal to your body that it is time to unwind.

🌺 Limiting caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol, especially in the afternoon and evening, can disrupt the sleep cycle. Reducing or eliminating these can make a big difference in your ability to fall and stay asleep.

🌺 Sleep routines

Have regular sleep times and try to keep a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day helps to regulate your body's internal clock. Make sure your bedroom is also dark, quiet and cool. Use comfortable bedding and perhaps consider a fan if you tend to get hot at night.

🌺 Food habits

A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can help stabilise your body and improve your sleep.

🌺 Managing stress

Effective stress management is essential. This may involve mindfulness, yoga, deep breathing exercises or talking to a therapist. Nowadays there are plenty of apps that can help along the way.

🌺 Avoid long naps

While it can be tempting to take long naps, especially after a bad night's sleep, this can make it harder to fall asleep in the evening.

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I wish you a really good night's sleep & Stay Pussytive