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Menopause and Insomnia

By: Nathalie Fiset | Apr 17 2007 | 715 words | 1091 hits

Losing sleep during the critical years of a woman's middle age can be frustrating, not to mention inconvenient. Menopause insomnia, in fact, is inescapable, and a symptom of the slowing down of a woman's reproductive system. Menopause insomnia is caused by many factors, but it can be treated or made milder with the proper medication, diet, and sleeping habits.

If you are suffering from menopause insomnia, you need to understand the different kinds of insomnia that exist. Transient insomnia will last anywhere from a single night, to two to three weeks. Transient insomnia may be due to altered work hours, jet lag, or anxiety. Acute insomnia occurs when the sufferer cannot sleep over a period of three to twenty four weeks. Insomnia can be classified as chronic when sleeplessness is persistent.

There are also two levels of insomnia. Primary insomnia is characterized by sleeplessness that cannot be traced to anything in the body or the environment. Secondary insomnia, on the other hand, is characterized by difficulty sleeping because of health conditions. In either case, medication may be required, and will be formulated by a physician.

Insomnia is also caused by a variety of factors. The body is controlled by a circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep and waking hours. If the circadian rhythm is disrupted, such as when you take long-haul flights through multiple time zones, or if you take the night shift of a job, then you may find yourself sleepless for days. Physical pain, discomfort, and anxiety can also induce insomnia. Ingesting large servings of stimulants, lack of exercise, and dehydration can also bring insomnia on.

Hormonal changes can also cause sleeplessness, and can bring about menopause insomnia. In order to ease the discomfort of not being able to sleep at night, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy medication to supplement decreasing levels of estrogen in your body. Lower estrogen levels can translate into a drop in serotonin levels, the brain hormone that controls sleep. What menopause insomnia medication cannot directly counter, however, is the vicious cycle that menopause insomnia causes. With less sleep, you will most likely be more irritable and stressed out; this lack of relaxation and increased stress on your body can also lead to more insomnia.

Menopause insomnia can be eased by taking a few sleep-inviting measures during the day. Exercise for about half an hour in the afternoon, but not before bedtime. The afternoon exercise can relax your muscles, but the evening exercise can make you more awake and alert. Avoid stimulants, such as tea, coffee, chocolate, nicotine, or sugar, for up to three or four hours before bedtime, since stimulants can keep you awake. Avoid taking alcoholic beverages before you go to bed: alcohol may be a relaxant, but it can also keep you from sleeping soundly.

You may also want to change your night time diet. Drink chamomile tea or a glass of warm milk before bed. Chamomile tea can relax you, while milk has calcium to calm your nerves, and tryptophan, a mild sedative. Milk is more effective as a sedative if you take some carbohydrates, such as crackers or a small chicken sandwich, with it.

You may also suffer from night sweats during menopause, so keep your bedroom temperature cool. Cold feet, however, can keep you alert and awake, so cover your extremities. As soon as you get into bed, breathe deeply and slowly, then work one by one on your muscles. Tense, and then relax them, in order to release stress. Before you go to bed, do not engage in mentally challenging or stimulating activities. Watch TV, read a relaxing book, or read a warm bath in order to help your body relax.

Your doctor may also recommend medication to treat your menopause insomnia. If these medications do not work, do not self medicate by using antihistamines or antidepressants. Their side effects may stress you out more. Moreover, be wary of herbal remedies, as some medications may not have any approved therapeutic claims.

Whichever method you will use to treat your menopause insomnia, follow your doctor's orders and do not engage in any activities or take any medication without his express approval or prescription. Read as much as you can on menopause and insomnia. Menopause insomnia is a typical symptom of your age and state, so be extra cautious in keeping yourself healthy.

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