Sleep is critical; we need the right amount so we can make good decisions, react quickly and to provide our bodies time to mend.
For many women, menopause causes problems with sleep. I am often one of those women.
I have tried Benadryl, Tylenol Nighttime, Lorazepem, and wine. Melatonin is my go-to right now, but it doesn’t always work. CBD cream with THC is pretty relaxing, but I can’t travel with it. Hormone replacement therapy was awesome, but I had troublesome side effects so I stopped them about 8 months after I began.
I’m 14 years into menopause and if I had to choose the one thing that has been the most frustrating with this life phase, it would be difficulty sleeping.
I’m too hot or too cold. I struggle with phantom itching at night. Sometimes my shoulder smarts in pain. I can’t get comfortable. My brain goes into overdrive and I worry incessantly about silly things or get tugged into a terrifying nightmare.
Doctors have been helpful to a point. I have been advised to only take something when I need it, which makes no sense since I don’t know when I’ll need it. My doctor worries I’ll become addicted to a sleep aide even as she chastises me for not sleeping.
Something tells me that my doctor is not dealing with menopause.
Sleep is critical; we need the right amount so we can make good decisions, react quickly and to provide our bodies time to mend. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not pleasant to be around when I haven’t slept.
The only other time I struggled with sleep before menopause was right before the end of my 18-year marriage. I would wake up wondering where my husband was, and then my anxiety would multiply. He had taken to sleeping at the office (or so he said). We decided to separate after a night where he never came home and from that point on I slept like a baby.
I suspect anxiety was the cause of insomnia back then.
But, just as my sleep became restful, I was plunged into menopause. I entered into menopause the exact month we divorced after dropping 15 pounds pretty darn quickly.
Look, I have no phone or television in my bedroom and I don’t watch or read the news in the evening. We keep our house cool in the evening, cold even. I sleep on an excellent mattress and I’ve invested a pretty penny in good pillows. Everything is covered in cases created for people with allergies. I don’t eat late at night. My anxiety has even subsided enormously in the last year or so.
Moral of the story: I don’t have a solid answer.
If you read this all the way to the end, you might be disappointed that you did not discover something you didn’t already know. Then again, you will quickly remember, this is menopause and menopause does not have a ‘one-size fits all’ option regardless of all the aging news out there. Trust me, there is NO guru that can take your process in this life phase and ‘cure’ you.
But. You need to sleep.
It’s not a bad idea to touch base with your doctor because the good ones will likely explore issues like sleep apnea and cognitive behavior therapy in addition to giving you the skinny on what medications are not problematic.
Sleep keeps our brains healthy, improves our immunity, and provides us the energy to do the things we love. We need to pay attention if we want to remain healthy.
Having difficulty a few nights here and there may not be a big deal, but if you are like me and found yourself wide awake at 3 a.m. every morning, it’s time to take it seriously.
Your health depends on it.