Do you struggle to stay asleep and feel like you’ve tried everything? One attempt after the other, but once again, you see the sunrise without being able to sleep. Do you wonder what are the causes of insomnia? This article will show you why it happens and how to deal with it.
To understand the causes of insomnia, let’s define what it is
Insomnia is classed as a sleep disorder and is characterised through struggling to stay asleep continuously. If you have trouble staying asleep at least three times a week for a period of three months or more this is classed as chronic insomnia.
Insomnia causes fatigue, constant sleep, and changes in mood, memory, and concentration during the day. Similarly, you’re more likely to be distracted and clumsiness can also increase (García et al., 2018).
Causes of insomnia in menopause
A study conducted in Colombia in 2021 showed that 64.7% of menopausal women have sleep problems, and 11.3% have severe sleep problems (Monterrosa & Monterrosa, 2021).
The causes of insomnia, at this stage, are hormonal. And are caused by the decrease in oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones regulate blood circulation, temperature, and concentration.
They also have a sedative effect at night. However, during menopause, they stop being produced. So sleep problems arise.
Symptoms of menopause that are also causes of insomnia
- Hot flushes are a sensation of heat associated with excessive sweating and hot and reddened skin. They occur mainly at night (Lee et al., 2019).
- Restless legs syndrome causes an unpleasant sensation in the legs that make it necessary to get up to walk at night. It can interrupt rest for hours (MedlinePlus, n.d.).
- Stress, anxiety, and depression are, in part, caused by decreased hormones. But they increase because of changes in lifestyle related to age. Similarly, insomnia worsens these feelings, and this becomes a vicious cycle (Sleep Foundation, 2021).
- Although not exclusive to menopause, obstructive sleep apnea is seen in most people who go through it, especially those who are obese. In this type of apnea, the breathing stops for a moment, and snoring and choking sounds are produced. Whoever suffers from it wakes up continuously (Sleep Foundation, 2021).
How to treat insomnia
Because the causes of insomnia are many, their treatment is also approached by various specialties. In other words, insomnia must be treated at the same time by gynecologists, hormone specialists, and psychologists. They will indicate what type of therapy you should use in your specific case.
Although conventional medical treatment offers some relief, we recommend trying the below methods first:
– Sleep hygiene techniques and routines (Elsevier, 2018)
- Use your bedroom exclusively for sleeping.
- Do not take naps of more than 45 minutes in the afternoon.
- Avoid coffee, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Go to bed consistently at the same time.
- Exercise regularly, but not in hours close to your sleeping times.
- Balance your diet, avoiding heavy meals four hours before going to bed.
- Block out external noise and light.
- Keep the room ventilated and aim for a temperature of around 18 degrees.
– Mindfulness and yoga: more specifically, relaxation and meditation techniques. They start with classes that can then be repeated at home, and that have shown relief in all cases of insomnia (García et al., 2018).
– Aromatherapy: it cures hot flushes in half of people treated. It has better results if it is accompanied by massages (Medical News Today, 2021).
– Hypnosis: this therapy reduces hot flushes in half of the people and relieves nocturnal awakenings (Medical News Today, 2021).
– Forest therapy refers to a retreat in a natural environment with guided activities. They have proven to relieve insomnia and stress (Kim et al., 2020).
What to do now?
It’s important to take care of yourself and your wellbeing during the menopause. Reflect on these tips and how you can incorporate these into your daily life. Wishing you a restful sleep tonight and always!
Elsevier. (2018). Los 10 mandamientos de la higiene del sueño para adultos (por la World Sleep Society). https://www.elsevier.com/es-es/connect/actualidad-sanitaria/los-10-mandamientos-de-la-higiene-del-sueno-para-adultos-por-la-world-sleep-society
Garcia, M.C., Kozasa, E.H., Tufik, S., Mello, L.A., & De Campos, H.H. (2018). 0439 The Effects of Mindfulness and Relaxation Training for Insomnia (MRTI) On Postmenopausal Women: A Pilot Study. Sleep, 41(1), 166-166. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy061.438
Kim, H., Kim, J., Ju, H.J., Jang, B.J., Wang, T.K., & Kim, Y.I. (2020). Effect of Forest Therapy for Menopausal Women with Insomnia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(18). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186548
Lee, J., Han, Y., Cho, H.H., & Kim, M.R. (2019). Sleep Disorders and Menopause. Journal of Menopausal Medicine, 25(2), 83–87. https://doi.org/10.6118/jmm.19192
Medical News Today. (2021). Menopause and Insomnia: Link, Duration, and Remedies. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/menopause-and-insomnia#complementary-therapies
MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Síndrome de las piernas inquietas. https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/ency/article/000807.htm#:~:text=El%20s%C3%ADndrome%20de%20piernas%20inquietas
Miret, D. (2022) ¿Sufres de menopausia y falta de sueño? Cómo combatir el insomnio. Neuroscenter. https://neuroscenter.com/insomnio-y-menopausia-causas-y-tratamiento/
Monterrosa-Castro, Á., & Monterrosa-Blanco, A. (2021). Prevalencia de problemas de sueño en mujeres climatéricas colombianas durante la pandemia COVID-19. Revista Colombiana de Obstetricia y Ginecología, 72(2), 162–170. https://doi.org/10.18597/rcog.3662
Sleep Foundation. (2021). How Can Menopause Affect Sleep? https://www.sleepfoundation.org/women-sleep/menopause-and-sleep