Everyone experiences a bad night’s sleep once in a while. Lack of sleep can sometimes be caused by seemingly innocent sleep-disrupting habits, such as indulging in a little too much Instagram time or eating a spicy Indian dinner right before bedtime.
If you’re going through menopause, however, you’re probably well aware of what’s keeping you up at night: sweaty hot flashes, getting up to pee multiple times a night, and mood fluctuations that tend to hit an all-time high when all you want to do is rest, to name a few.
“Difficulty sleeping during menopause is really common,” says Sonal Chaudhry, MD, an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health. That’s because changes in hormone levels can trigger menopause symptoms that directly affect your sleep quantity and quality. For example, low levels of progesterone can make it hard to fall and stay asleep, and low estrogen levels can cause hot flashes at night which can keep you up.
Lack of sleep may not only cause you to be tired, irritable, and less inclined to make healthy choices the next day, but it may also make your menopause symptoms worse, says Dr. Chaudhry. Bad sleep quality is also associated with weight gain and can increase your risk for metabolic syndrome.
“It’s important to try to get the best sleep you can,” says Dr. Chaudhry. Learn more about how skimping on sleep affects your health.
Thankfully, there are many lifestyle changes you can try to get better shut-eye. Here are eight tips to help you sleep better during menopause.
1. Limit alcohol intake before bed. “One intervention that my patients have found to be really helpful is reducing their alcohol intake. Even a glass or two of wine at dinner can have a negative effect on their sleep. And when they stop that they’ve found that their sleep quality has improved considerably,” says Dr. Chaudhry.
2. Keep cold water on your nightstand. Keep ice water close by to drink when you feel a hot flash coming on.
3. Use a fan. Keep cool by placing a fan by your bed at night.
4. Wear layers that you can peel off at night if you get hot … or sleep nude! Here’s why sleeping commando is actually really good for your health.
5. Wake up and going to sleep at the same time every day. This will get your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, on track and may help you fall asleep more easily. If it helps, set an alarm for your chosen bedtime and wake time, and adhere to it as much as possible (even on weekends!).
6. Create a restful sleep environment. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex, if you can.
7. Avoid caffeine late in the day. Have your java fix before lunch. If you need a midday pick me up, try going for a walk instead.
8. Exercise regularly, but not before bed. “If you do exercise it’s actually really good for sleep, but it’s important for you to exercise in the earlier part of your day, because exercise later in the day can also interfere with sleep,” says Dr. Chaudhry.
“It’s hard to adhere to all these sleep hygiene guidelines, but it may be worthwhile to try one or a few of them to see what works best for you,” says Dr. Chaudhry. Here are more doctor-approved sleep tips to try.
If these sleep fixes don’t work for you and your lack of Zzzs is significantly affecting your quality of life, see a doctor. “If symptoms are moderate to severe, hormones are really the most effective way to treat them” says Dr. Chaudhry.