Sleep Problems

Dealing with Sleep Problems from Menopause

We all need sleep with a healthy amount for adults being 7 hours per night, but unfortunately the menopausal transition can interrupt how much sleep we get, how easily we fall to sleep and how we function the next day. Poor sleep is associated with lower cognitive functions, higher stress hormones and poorer mental and physical health.

Types of Sleep Disturbance

Around 28% – 63% of women will experience sleep problems at some stage in the perimenopause or the menopausal transition.

When seeking menopause for CBT most women complain of sleep disturbance of some kind including:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep (awakening during the night)
  • Early morning wakening
  • Less total sleep time
  • Overall quality of sleep (non-restorative)
  • Problems with sense of well-being and overall functioning

 

What Causes Sleep Problems?

As with all menopausal symptoms, the hormonal changes associated with this period of life are usually underpinned by the imbalance of female hormones, as during the menopause a women’s ovaries stop producing progesterone and estrogen, both which play a role in a peaceful night’s sleep. Progesterone has a sleep-inducing effect in brain pathways and so decreasing levels of this can mean a harder time getting to sleep, while a decrease in estrogen can affect the secretion of Melatonin, the key sleep hormone causing wakefulness in the night. Sleep disturbances can be caused by other menopausal symptoms in the night such as hot flushes, anxiety, depression, or joint pain

How Can CBT for Menopause Help?

Using CBT to treat menopause symptoms including sleep problems focusses on the thoughts and emotions which underpin our behaviours and looks to redefine them. The cognitive element teaches you to recognise and change beliefs that affect your ability to sleep and aims to reduce negative or anxious thoughts that keep you awake. The behavioural element teaches you to employ sleep strategies that can help you develop habits to get a better night’s sleep.

 

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