Menopause, a time of huge bodily changes replete with hot flashes, insomnia, and a host of other symptoms that leave women saying, “Ain’t nobody got time for that sh*t.” Because we live in a world that has yet to understand the intricacies of the female body and its various cycles, there isn’t a quick fix for those suffering through the hormonal turbulence of perimenopause or menopause. One thing we can do, however, is treat the symptoms as much as we can so we can at least get a good night’s sleep.
What many don’t realize is that perimenopause is the term for the change a woman goes through on her way toward menopause, which is the cessation of her period and, therefore, her reproductive cycle. It isn’t something that is talked about much besides the occasional mention of hot flashes here and there, but it can be an extremely life-altering time. With the depletion of hormones progesterone and estrogen, women find themselves facing hot flashes and sweating that can contribute to difficulty sleeping, among other symptoms.
What’s a woman to do?
Traditionally, doctors lean toward prescribing replacement hormones for women experiencing extreme symptoms during perimenopause and menopause. Although this sounds like a quick and obvious fix, adding synthetic hormones can cause a whole host of other problems, such as an increased risk for certain types of cancer, blood clots, stroke, gallstones, and dementia. Women need to weigh the benefits versus the risks when deciding for themselves how they want to approach severe symptoms of menopause. If symptoms are not severe, some doctors are beginning to prescribe low doses of antidepressants, such as Prozac.
If you are of a crunchy mindset . . .
If the thought of getting on a serious medication for your hot flashes and sleep problems causes you to recoil, there are plenty of natural options to try. Each woman’s body is different, so what works for your friend may not work for you and vice versa. However, some tried and true things that help to regulate hormonal shifts include:
- Mind-body practices
- Eating a healthy, whole-foods diet
- Decreasing consumption of sugar and alcohol
Every woman should try the above things whether on medications or not. They can contribute not only to an easier time during menopause but to better health overall. Certain herbs and supplements and bioidentical hormones are also available for women. If your doctor doesn’t specialize in these areas, consult a functional medicine doctor or other holistic practitioner for ideas and recommendations.
Please, let me sleep!
Although hot flashes can be horrible at any time of day, nighttime sweats contribute to insomnia and other sleep problems that leave you feeling depleted and prone to other illnesses. If this sounds like what you are going through, you may want to try out these tips to see if they can help you get some shut eye:
- Wear loose clothing to bed. These pajamas are locally made and meant for women who experience nighttime hot flashes.
- Keep your bedroom cool and well ventilated.
- Cut off caffeine, chocolate, and other foods that trigger you to stay awake within four hours of bedtime.
- Maintain a regular bedtime schedule.
- Turn off your television and other screens about 30 minutes before heading to bed.
- Avoid napping during the day.
- Empty your bladder before bedtime and avoid drinking too much water right before sleeping.
Whether you have just begun your journey into perimenopause or are already in full-blown menopause, dealing with symptoms can be tricky and, at times, unnerving. The good news? There are things that may alleviate some of your symptoms and allow you to feel more balanced both during your sleeping and waking hours. Follow our tips and speak to your doctor if you need help managing the symptoms of menopause.