Menopause is notorious for interfering with sleep due to bothersome hot flashes and night sweats. At least 3 out of every 4 menopausal women will experience hot flashes, and about 60% of women will have trouble sleeping due to hot flashes.
Prescription Treatments to Help Sleep
Like many symptoms of menopause, hot flashes can be treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which in turn can help with sleep difficulties. HRT delivers estrogen to your system through a patch, pill, or vaginal cream.
However, there is a downside to hormone replacement therapy. Even though doctors are now prescribing HRT in low doses and for shorter periods of time, HRT has an increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, blood clotting, and stroke. There are non-hormone options available that do not carry the same risks. One of them is FDA approved for treatment of hot flashes and is called Brisdelle® (fluoxetine). Other treatments include antidepressants such as Effexor® (venlafaxine), Paxil® (paroxetine), Prozac® (fluoxetine), and Lexapro® (escitalopram). If symptoms are severe, there are other sleeping medications that can be temporarily used to provide relief.
Like many medications, these do not work for everyone. Your doctor may want to try different medications to see how they work for you.
Non-Prescription Treatments to Help Sleep
Melatonin is a popular over-the-counter supplement available to help with sleep. Our bodies produce melatonin naturally, however some research shows these levels can decrease with age. Light can also decrease production of melatonin, which is why it is essential to fall asleep in a dark environment. As with any other medication, it is important to discuss this option with your physician to see if it a right fit for you.
There are a few non-medicinal remedies to help improve your sleep as well.
Here are some more tips that might help you avoid hot flashes, or sleep better through hot flashes.
- Keep your bedroom cool at night and wear loose, light pajamas made of natural fibers.
- Before bed, avoid spicy foods which can make you sweat.
- Take it easy on the caffeine, especially later in the day.
- Exercise daily, but avoid exercise before bed.
- Keep a regular bedtime schedule to train yourself to sleep at the same time every night, and avoid napping during the day.
It is extremely helpful to visit your doctor to discuss sleep issues. The research on the importance of sleep is clear; we need it in order to function at our best. Please visit us to discuss your sleeping problems or the other issues associated with menopause.