Fluctuating hormone levels during the menopause could become a challenge for daily energy and metabolism but there’s a few common menopausal symptoms which contribute to sleep deprivation that take tiredness and fatigue to a whole new level. Susie Debice BSc Hons, Dip ION Food Scientist and Nutritionist provides 4 key pieces of information on menopausal issues that keep you awake at night…
According to the National Sleep Foundation as many as 61% of menopausal women experience issues with sleeping and insomnia and unlike many other symptoms of the menopause which settle down after, sleep issues tend to continue for some post-menopausal women. Menopausal night sweats could mean you wake frequently throughout the night and throw off the duvet to quickly cool down. Night sweats are the same as daytime hot flushes, it’s just that while you’re asleep you can’t peel off the layers to help stop the flush escalating, which is why night sweats seem much more severe as you tend to wake up dripping with sweat. There’s often no particular pattern to night sweats so it’s common to go through phases when night sweats seem more frequent followed by a run of nights where you sleep all the way through – bliss! Bedding made from 100% natural fibres and wearing cotton nightwear could help. Keeping a towel and a change of pyjamas by your bedside and a cool flannel is also a helpful tip. As your hormones start to settle down your night sweats start to fade away leaving you the chance to catch up on your beauty sleep. Some women find that supplementing with phyto-oestrogens to be helpful for hormone balance which may help relieve night sweats as well as daytime hot flushes.
- Mood, serotonin and melatonin
If you’re mood has taken a tumble in the lead up to the menopause then you could be suffering from a serotonin imbalance. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which the body makes from a protein called tryptophan, which is responsible for generating happy, relaxed, calm feelings and mindset. Falling oestrogen levels, in some women, make it harder for receptor sites in the brain to detect serotonin and that may contribute to lower serotonin levels. The body uses serotonin to make a sleep hormone called melatonin which gets released at the end of the day helping settle the mind, relax the body so that drifting off to sleep is a breeze. Topping up on mood foods containing tryptophan such as avocados, cottage cheese, turkey, chicken, brown rice, nuts, fish, milk and eggs or supplementing with 5-HTP could be of benefit.
- Bladder problems
Oestrogen and progestogen have an influence on the muscle tone of the smooth muscles that line the bladder and urethra. As you go through the menopause, changes in these hormones may impact on bladder function which is why some menopausal women experience bouts of interstitial cystitis or increased frequency for urination. Waking throughout the night for trips to the loo could have become a contributing factor for your disturbed sleep. If this becomes a daily or weekly night-time activity, then all those nights of interrupted shut eye soon start to add up. Pelvic floor exercises are a must to help keep that smooth muscle nice and toned.
- Short on B-vitamins
Without uninterrupted restorative sleep it becomes harder and harder to start the day feeling refreshed, positive and energised. You’re more likely to want to hit the snooze button for the rest of the day. Trying to override that morning fatigue with strong cups of coffee could just set you up for a stimulant, mood and energy rollercoaster for the rest of the day. Instead, start thinking about rehydrating with a large glass of water or large herbal tea. Keeping hydrated is important for brain function and mental focus so this is a good morning habit to stick to.
Studies have shown that vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12 all help to support energy-yielding metabolism, fight tiredness and fatigue and contribute to normal psychological function which score plus points for mood and energy levels. Foods containing B-vitamins include wholegrains, pulses and lentils so starting your day with an oat-based cereal or muesli is recommended. However, it’s also worth supplementing your diet with B-vitamins during the menopause and MenoMin by Cleanmarine contain a daily supply of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12.