Hormones affect your mood and sleep—especially as you age. In fact, about 61 percent of women who are past menopause (the one-year anniversary of your last period) and almost 80 percent of women who are in perimenopause (when your body starts to transition toward menopause) report sleep problems. That’s partly because your ovaries are slowing down their production of the sleep-promoting hormone progesterone, and partly because you might be hit with major sleep disrupters such as hot flashes or night sweats due to lower estrogen levels. Try these tricks to sleep more soundly.
1. Keep Your Cool. Put a bowl of ice water and a washcloth near your bed, so you can cool yourself off quickly if a hot flash wakes you up. That’ll help you fall back to sleep faster. Also make sure your bedroom is kept at a comfortable temperature (ideally between 60 and 67 degrees) and is well-ventilated.
2. Choose the Right Bedding. Skip the thick, heavy comforters and fleece sheets and go for bedding made from lighter materials, such as breathable and fast-drying cotton. This will help keep you from getting overheated, so you’re less likely to wake up during the night.
3. Eat Some Soy. To help combat dropping estrogen levels, you might try eating soy products such as tofu, soymilk, and soybeans. They contain phytoestrogens, which have weak, estrogen-like effects, and they may ease hot flashes.
4. Consider a Natural Remedy. Natural hot-flash helpers include botanicals such as evening primrose and black cohosh, but talk to your doctor before taking these supplements, because they aren’t regulated and may interfere with other medications you may be taking.
5. Try Acupuncture. This ancient Chinese remedy uses tiny needles to unblock energy points in your body and may help balance hormone levels to ease hot flashes and trigger the release of more endorphins to offset mood swings.
6. Balance Your Hormones. If you’ve had sleep problems for more than a few weeks, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she might recommend hormone replace therapy, which helps stabilize your decreasing hormone levels and lessen hot flashes. You might also talk to your doctor about other medication options, because low-dose antidepressants and even some blood pressure drugs have also been shown to alleviate menopausal symptoms.