Insomnia and menopause or midlife blues?

A night time tale of insomnia and menopause

What causes insomnia? - is it your hormones? read more

Owl metaphor insomnia at menopause

It's 3 o'clock in the morning and "ping" you are awake. That horrid alarm in your head has woken you, you need to pee, your partner is snoring and the room seems to have suddenly become a sauna.

You throw off the blankets and the cool night air freshens your sweaty skin. Phew. You cool down quickly.


Perhaps too quickly or too much and you soon retreat back under the covers…. until a few minutes later when you are hot again …

How many perimenopausal women have not been there? Should you be worried?

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Insomnia and menopause – cause for concern?

Insomnia is one of the most common complaints that middle aged women report and it is widely believed that menopause brings some sleep problems.

In two big studies of thousands of menopausal women, one in the USA and one in Australia, around 40% of women reported sleep problems (1, 2).

Insomnia and menopause also seem to vary with ethnicity – Caucasian women suffer more sleep problems than other ethnic groups (3).

But whether or not insomnia and menopause are definitely linked because of hormonal changes, remains a subject of debate. Some experts argue that insomnia in midlife women is likely to be predominantly stress-related with some aggravation by hot flushes (4) rather than menopause being the major cause of the insomnia. In other words, it's mainly stress that's the problem and not menopause itself.

Can hormone therapy help insomnia in perimenopause? read more

A real pain

Whether it's menopause related or not, there's no doubt about it, insomnia is a real pain that can cause problems with work, family and just about any daily activities. Our short term memories don't function as well, we get bad tempered and snap at people and we just don't have our normal energy levels for participating in life to the full.

Studies have shown that at any age insomnia is more frequent in women than men – although men do of course also suffer. Also as we all get older, sleep becomes lighter and shorter – a general sign of aging rather than anything specific to do with hormonal changes.

Around the time of their menopause many women report that their insomnia is related to hot flashes or more particularly at night, to night sweats.

If you've ever had a night sweat then you know exactly what those are: you wake up and find yourself bathed in a pool of sweat and however cool the room is, you still need to throw off the blankets and wipe yourself down.

Just lying there awake

Sometimes insomnia has nothing to do with being hot...

Menopause insomnia ... click to read more

Lit tent metaphor insomnia

For helpful information about sleep-related issues and how to get a better night's sleep during menopause, click here: menopause insomnia.

Published July 2010. Updated January 2012

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