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The Importance of Sleep



At midlife, the importance of a good night's sleep is more vital than ever. More than just a restorative process, sleep emerges as a cornerstone for maintaining optimal health and vitality during this stage of life.


For women in their 40s and 50s, the rejuvenating effects of quality sleep are instrumental in combating the cumulative stresses of life. Nightly cellular repair and hormonal regulation play a crucial role, counteracting the visible signs of aging and promoting a radiant, youthful complexion.


WHY CAN’T I SLEEP?

Hormones The hormonal fluctuations that occur during perimenopause and menopause can lead to disruptions in sleep patterns, making it challenging for women to achieve a consistent and restful night's sleep.


Hormones and sleep have a closer connection than many people realize. According to Lauri Leadley, founder and president at Valley Sleep Center and Clinical Sleep Educator, “The connection between hormones and sleep becomes more important to understand, especially as women age. Declining estrogen levels, as women enter menopause, is a common cause of insomnia. Night sweats after menopause are also a big cause of sleep disruption for women and their partners. But menopause sleep problems like insomnia and night sweats are just the beginning. The pace and incredible stresses of today’s world means that getting good sleep is even more important to our overall health and wellbeing, as well as to maintaining a healthy weight.


Estrogen plays a key role in brain function, so it affects memory issues, language, the ability to focus, and sleep. This is why insomnia during menopause is so common.


As women age, it becomes harder to fight the battle of the bulge. Hormonal imbalances and the body disruptions caused by decreased levels of hormones are the underlying culprits. Perimenopause and menopause can also be stressful for many women. Added to daily stressors, it can trigger weight gain, which is also closely associated with sleep loss. In other words, the hormonal imbalances associated with menopause create a vicious cycle.”


Lauren Thayer, Registered Nurse (RN) at Health Canal, shares “In women, sleep issues begin to increase in their 40 to 50s because of hormonal shifts from menopause. Trouble sleeping during menopause is usually caused by hot flashes that women experience. These can cause unexpected nighttime awakenings. Some women can even develop sleep apnea due to the loss of reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. Many times this goes undiagnosed as women think their daytime sleepiness is due to the menopause itself rather than something else. There are steps that can be taken to try to get better rest during and after menopause, including regular exercise, hormone replacement therapy and other medications, to restore restful sleep.”


Stress and Anxiety

The multiple responsibilities we juggle, including careers, family obligations and potentially caring for aging parents all contribute to our lack of sleep. Elevated stress levels and anxiety can contribute to difficulty sleeping, as racing thoughts and worries may persist when trying to unwind at night.


Sleep Disorders

Women can experience sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless legs syndrome. These conditions can lead to disrupted sleep patterns, frequent awakenings, and an overall struggle to achieve the deep, restorative sleep necessary for overall well-being.


Lifestyle Factors

Certain lifestyle choices and habits can contribute to difficulty sleeping. Irregular sleep schedules, excessive caffeine intake, alcohol, lack of physical activity and the use of electronic devices before bedtime can negatively impact sleep quality. While there are many contributors to poor sleep, it's important to understand the potential causes in order to address these factors through lifestyle adjustments, stress management techniques and when necessary, seeking professional guidance.



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