The Menopause Diaries #3: Sleep Disorders

sleepdisorderIn my previous post about menopause, I briefly mentioned sleep disorders. Not any kind of sleep disorder, but sleep disorders due to the menopause.

Why does menopause cause sleep disorders?

The menopause sees the fall of two main hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones affect sleep patterns in two different ways.
Oestrogen is important for managing the level of magnesium in the body. This is a chemical which allows your muscles to relax. A lowered level of magnesium makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
Falling levels of oestrogen are also the primary factor in causing night sweats, which can disrupt the sleep cycle. It is also thought that this can cause breathing irregularities during sleep resulting in a sleep problem similar to sleep apnoea.
Progesterone is important for making you fall asleep and stay asleep. With lowered levels of progesterone you will find it more difficult to slip into deep sleep, so even if you do not wake during the night, the sleep is not as restful as it should be.
Source: A. Vogel

 

I used to be able to sleep very soundly. Sometimes without even moving for many hours during the night. Unfortunately, this is no more. Nowadays I wake up constantly. I sometimes sleep no more than 15 minutes before I wake up again. Sleeping for 90 minutes without waking up? Wow! Then I’m happy. Until I remember the times when I used to wake up in the morning and couldn’t even remember if I was awake at night! How I long back to those days!

I wake up for different reasons at night. Sometimes I don’t even know why I woke up. It can be night sweats, it can be because I need to pee, but it can also be… for no reason at all. Mostly when I wake up, I battle to get back to sleep again. Even though I sleep with earplugs, I seem to hear every sound. Most of all I hear Master T next to me. Like so many of us (yes, including me) he snores. And that irritates me immensely when I cannot sleep. I need silence to fall asleep, that’s what I tell myself. But even if he’s quiet, I cannot fall back asleep.

I take a L-tryptophan tablet before I go to bed and this is to help me fall asleep. It helps, most of the time, but I still wake up during the night. Having read the above, I think I might have to try magnesium supplements. Maybe that helps.

With not sleeping well, I am constantly tired. Sometimes at my work I yawn all day long and sometimes being so tired even makes me feel down. As long as I live, whenever I had a bad night I needed two good nights after the bad night to feel rested again. I do not get two good nights anymore. 6 out of 7 of my nights are bad. I can tell you, next to the sweating, having my sleep stolen from me is one of the things I really hate about (peri)menopause.

Being tired, many nights the only thing I can think of when we go to bed is: sleep. Not sex. No, wait, this is not true. I always think about sex when I am in bed. I don’t even have to be horny for that. But, even though I think of it and even if I am horny, many times being tired wins and I just go to sleep. For this our date night is a good thing too, because then I just push the tiredness to the background for one night.

Not sleeping well is a bitch. It influences a lot of aspects in my life, but I am in the process of learning not to concentrate on the fact that I cannot sleep (negative) but to be thankful for the nights in which I sleep better and feel more rested in the morning (positive). Otherwise I will be more depressed than I sometimes already am. Somehow I can’t help to think that this is the key for the (peri)menopause: to concentrate on the positives.

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