Every month across the UK, more than 74,000 Brits turn to Google for any information they can find about the natural transition to perimenopause, while another 33,100 are searching specifically for articles on “perimenopause symptoms”.
While typically perimenopause will begin from around the age of 40, symptoms can start as early as the mid-30s meaning the portion of the 14.2 million millennials in the UK who menstruate will soon be joining in the search to understand the changes in their ageing bodies. From hot flashes and vaginal dryness, to mood swings and a reduced sex drive, there are a number of changes a female’s body will go through during perimenopause, but one of the most difficult to deal with is disturbances to sleep.
‘Perimenopause’ is not just another popular buzzword or trendy self-diagnosed condition, rather it is medically considered to be the period of time leading up to menopause, during which time a woman’s body begins to transition out of its reproductive prime.
This change can start as early as the mid-30s and last anywhere from a few months to several years, and it can be a difficult and unpredictable time for those going through it. The decline in reproductive hormone levels can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, which in turn causes more than 33,100 women across the UK to turn to Google to seek out information about the symptoms of this bodily change every month.
Now, as the female population of the 14.2 million Millennials in the UK hurtle toward this natural change in their bodies, wellness experts at Cannaray share the signs to look out for, as well as advice on how to get the best night’s sleep while suffering perimenopausal symptoms.
Perimenopause and sleep
As the levels of the body’s reproductive hormones, oestrogen and progesterone begin to decline, it is normal to expect a range of physical, mental and cognitive symptoms. Some of the most common signs of perimenopause include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings and a reduced sex drive, while one of the most difficult to deal with is disturbances to sleep.
Here are some of the most common sleep-related problems:
- Insomnia. Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is one of the most common sleep disturbances during perimenopause. This can be caused by hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms of perimenopause.
- Sleep apnoea. Perimenopause can increase the risk of sleep apnea, a condition in which a person’s airway becomes blocked during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing.
- Restless leg syndrome. This condition causes an irresistible urge to move the legs, usually accompanied by a crawling or tingling sensation. It can cause disruptions to sleep during perimenopause.
- Night sweats. Hot flashes that occur during the night, also known as night sweats, can disrupt sleep and cause waking up drenched in sweat.
- Sleep fragmentation. Perimenopausal women may experience frequent awakenings during the night, which can lead to sleep fragmentation and reduce the overall quality of sleep.
Zara Kenyon, wellness expert at Cannaray CBD said: “Sleep is essential for overall health and wellbeing as it allows the body time to repair and rejuvenate itself. Sleep also regulates the body’s hormones, and is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Lack of sleep can have a severe impact on mood, memory and cognitive bodily function, and can lead to poor performance in day-to-day activities among other things.”
How to get a better night’s sleep
Dr Balu, a consultant psychiatrist at Cannaray shares his top tips for improving sleep quality and duration for those struggling with perimenopausal symptoms.
Create a relaxing and regular sleep routine
Building and maintaining a regular ‘bedtime schedule’ is so important as it creates a routine for the brain and body to latch onto, and relax into over time.
The schedule can be as simple as a list of things to do at a certain time, like 10pm, and turn off the TV. 10:05, brush teeth. 10:10, take CBD oil. 10:15, meditation, 10:30 use pillow spray, etc. That way you’re ticking little tasks off a list, which will give your brain the help it needs to focus on winding down.”
Relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises get a lot of criticism, but done right, they genuinely help. Think of them in the same way as yoga or meditation; they each play a role in helping to calm your mind and body before bed, making it easier to fall asleep.
Avoid electronics before bed
This seems obvious, but how many times do we say we’re going to bed then we end up scrolling TikTok for another hour before we actually try to sleep? You want to plug your phone in to charge, then leave it alone.
You need to remove all electrical stimuli from interacting with your brain at least an hour before you want to sleep, as the blue light emitted by these devices can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin – the chemical that regulates sleep.
Instead, pick up a book, write in a journal, or work on that 1000-piece puzzle. Anything but electronics.
Cut out stimulants from midday
As well as technology, you really shouldn’t be consuming any kind of stimulants, a good eight to ten hours before you want to go to sleep, as they will do the exact opposite of what you want to achieve.
I know it’s hard, especially when you’re tired to not reach for things that will stimulate you throughout the day, whether that be sugar, caffeine, alcohol or tobacco, but it’s the last thing your body needs to relax into sleep.”
If you must use something to help you get through the day, CBD capsules are fortified with vitamin D3, vitamin C, and zinc for energy and immune support, and are a natural source of energy for when you’re feeling sluggish from a poor night’s sleep.”
Consider bright light therapy
Bright lights like SAD lamps and sunrise alarms are great for mimicking the natural effects of the sun on your internal body clock, so sitting in close proximity to a bright light box for 30 mins after you wake up will kick start your internal clock.
Lots of people who suffer from the symptoms of perimenopause struggle to regulate their body clocks, because of side effects like insomnia and sleep fragmentation. Using bright light therapy in the morning can help to advance your internal clock, which will, in turn, help them fall asleep easier.
Consult with a healthcare professional
If you are experiencing persistent sleep problems related to perimenopause, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. They may be able to recommend medication or other treatments that can help improve your sleep quality and duration.