Trouble sleeping during menopause?

Are you having trouble sleeping during menopause?

Some of the data shows 50 to 60% of women struggle with sleep in midlife. Learn more with this interview we had with Dr. Val a Women’s sleep coach with offices Hawaii and California that specializes in menopausal women. Dr. Val is really passionate about teaching women, especially women going through perimenopause, and menopause, how they can improve their sleep. Though there are a lot of good tools and treatment options available people don’t know about them even Dr.’s who in general have 2 hours of study about menopause and another 2 on sleep unless they specialize, take more courses, etc.

Or read the interview with statistics below. 

Dr. Val says:

"Sleep is a really big thing, menopause and sleep as a whole, we weren't really taught about it in medical school. So then sort of combining those two, you go to your doctor and you're like, you know, a woman and you're, maybe you're turning 15, it's like, you know, I can't sleep. And guess what, they'll probably give you a sleeping pill, which, you know, maybe can work but you know, the sort of patients that I see in my practice, they tried all the pills available, and they still can't sleep. So there's just something to tell you about that. Sometimes we were looking for the stronger pill or the better one. And I'm like, Well, you know, if you try to all of the things that are like FDA approved, even supplements, and even cannabis and still have a hard time sleeping well, you know, there's there's other things that we should really look at. So. So that's kind of what I do."


Percentage of adults in the United States who stated they use select sleep aids as of 2022

Jeff asks: “Where do you start with someone’s sleep journey if someone's having trouble with these issues, and they're in that that time period in life?”

Dr. Val

That's a good question. The first question I always ask is what's bothering you the most? Then taking a look at sort of the decision tree

 Dr. Val Decision Making Tree for Sleep Issues

Do you have a hard time either falling asleep, or is it staying asleep? Because the causes can vary, and sometimes it's both and then we really have to sort of like dig through the weeds to figure out what's going on.

A woman can have multiple sleep disruptors as a woman goes through perimenopause, menopause, or even midlife. So we start at the top, hot flashes, night sweats. Okay. So, you know, this happens, right? If you don't know, then you know, you probably aren't. Because typically people who have it, you know, can wake up from a deep sleep, sometimes you're sweating, where you have to actually change your clothes, change your your bedsheets because you're just drenched. And this has to do with fluctuations in hormone levels, but specifically, estrogen. Yeah, so that one's pretty big. And sort of an issue with this is, there was a big study of the Men's Health sort of study of Women's Health Initiative that said, hormone replacement was bad, because, you know, some people had an increased risk of things like heart attack or stroke. When actually we analyze the data, it wasn't that much of an increase.

A lot of women even when I was in training, we were told, you know, if someone had high blood pressure, then they probably shouldn't be on hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy, actually taking hormones as your levels are starting to decline is one of the best ways to control the hot, hot flashes and night sweats. That doesn't mean you have to be on these medications forever and ever. But, you know, for God's sake, right? You know, you gotta help someone be able to sleep. Because if you don't sleep well definitely can affect your mood. 

So the anticipation of a hot flash nights were to come about. And that can cause some anxiety, right? I used to think of it like when I worked in a hospital, and I used to work nights, and you know, the ER would be really quiet, like, everything was sort of slow. And I would have the opportunity to take a nap. But then you never know when that pager is gonna go off. So it's like, you're sort of sleeping with one eye open, sort of, like, if you have a newborn at home, right? Okay, you got him down. He's, you know, sleeping, you just sped up, burped him change his diaper, okay, everything is good. But maybe because, you know, last night or the night before, you know, he will go five times. So you're just like, oh, it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. And so that anxiety that apprehension of you know, another hot flash is gonna come and that can really stem stimulate in some some anxiety and depression. But women as a whole have higher rates of mental health concerns, as opposed to men. And guess what, it doesn't get better as we go through that hormonal change. So yeah, hot flashes and anxiety, depression are things that I look for. And then you know, I'm a sleep doctor. So I look threats, I look for sleep disturbances. So believe it or not, I mean, circadian rhythm issues are pretty big. I see a lot of people who come in referred for insomnia, and you know, they are trying to go to sleep at night. Or maybe they're trying to go to sleep at 10pm. But guess what, on the weekends, they don't go to bed until after midnight? Or if they're on vacation, right? Maybe they stay up to like two or three? And what is that? Well, it's a day, sorry, it's a night, I will try and live in a person's life, right. And so it can be really, really frustrating. And there's actually a certain percentage of the population maybe 10 15%, where you know, you go is actually socked in around puberty, and then you go through college. And it's great, because you can take like the late classes, right? You can sleep in till 10, you don't have lunch, and then go to class at two, or even like, you know, there are six to nine classes as well. And then guess what, once you have your eight to four, nine to five job, it's pretty awful. And then you're asking your doctor and your doctor will say, Okay, here's a sleeping pill. But actually, what you really need to do is know that your internal clock has shifted, you're a night owl, and then learn how to shift your clock back. So I sort of like that one, because it's an easy fix where I'm like, oh, okay, I know why you're, I know why you're so frustrated. Your body's just isn't ready to go to sleep. It's like you're living in a different time zone. So using light in the morning helps. 

Watch the video for more or comment so we know to add more of the interview.