Menopause and Insomnia: How Hormones and Hot Flashes Affect Sleep

Lauren cut caffeine and boosted exercise to battle her problem.
If you're within a few years of menopause, you may find yourself channel-surfing at 3 a.m. for the first time in your life. Hormonal ups and downs may have affected your sleep during menstruation and pregnancy, as well, but chances are, that was nothing compared to these fearsome midlife fluctuations.

Hormones drop; adrenaline rises
During menopause your ovaries slowly decrease their production of two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, the latter of which promotes sleep. When those hormone levels drop, it can be very unsettling to your system and make it hard to sleep. A drop in estrogen also leaves you more vulnerable to stress, another disturbance to your slumber.

Sleeping Through Menopause Symptoms
How this woman averted a midlife insomnia crisis  Read more
Hot flashes, which plague up to 85% of menopausal women, can jolt you awake too. These flashes are actually caused by a rush of adrenaline that alerts your mind and wakes you up. You won't be able to settle down until the adrenaline subsides, and that could take hours.

When menopause hit Lauren Butler, 52, hot flashes were just a small part of her ensuing insomnia. The main thing keeping her up, she says, was pent-up energy and stress.

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Lead writer: Gail Belsky
Last Updated: May 04, 2008

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