7 Ways Menopausal Women Can Improve Sleep Quality, Naturally

by Dorian Martin Patient Advocate

Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Some studies show that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep are at an increased risk of poor health and functioning. Sleep timing and duration have an effect on the body’s metabolic, neurological and endocrine functions. Lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and death. During menopause, many women find that their sleep cycles are disrupted. In fact, 61 percent of postmenopausal women experience symptoms of insomnia. Changing estrogen levels during this time frame may result in night sweats and hot flashes that interrupt sleep. So how can you get a better night’s sleep?

Be physically active

A University of Pennsylvania study found that physical activity (such as walking and other types of exercise) is associated with better sleep habits. In comparison, people who were inactive didn’t sleep as soundly.

Try more purposeful physical activities for sounder sleep

These researchers also found that purposeful physical activities such as aerobics/calisthenics, biking, gardening, golf, running, weight-lifting and yoga/Pilates were associated with fewer cases of insufficient sleep when compared to study participants who just walked.

Don’t use housekeeping and babysitting as primary type of physical activity

The University of Pennsylvania study found that people who get most of their activity from cleaning house or taking care of children had poorer sleep habits. While housework and caring for grandchildren may be an important part of life, menopausal women may benefit from adding other types of exercise to their days.

Foods that promote sleep

Eating certain foods can help promote sleep quality. These foods include fish (especially salmon, halibut and tuna), jasmine rice, tart cherry juice, yogurt, whole grains, kale, bananas, chickpeas and fortified cereals.

Foods that disrupt sleep

Some foods may disrupt sleep when eaten prior to bedtime. These foods include dark chocolate, steak, alcohol, spicy foods, decaf coffee, fibrous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower), French fries and chili. Some are difficult to digest or have chemicals that can keep you awake. In addition, some foods (like spicy foods and alcohol) can trigger hot flashes.

Turn off the computer, tablet, and smart phone

Researchers found that electronic devices that emit a glowing blue light keep the pineal gland from releasing melatonin. Even if you don’t look directly at the screen, having enough blue light visible in a darkened room can stop the release of melatonin. Therefore, limit use of computer, table and smart phone prior to bedtime.

Watch out for sleep apnea

Studies have found that postmenopausal women have a high risk for having undiagnosed sleep apnea. This condition, which also is associated with obesity, happens when your airway gets blocked obstructed during sleep. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your doctor about testing, especially if you regularly snore when you’re asleep.

Dorian Martin
Meet Our Writer
Dorian Martin

Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.