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How does the menopause affect my sleep?

Thankfully, in part due to Davina McCall's campaigning, there is much more conversation around menopause. The menopause is a natural time in a woman’s life when they see significant changes in hormones and may experience many symptoms that can affect their work performance. For many, this life stage typically starts between the ages 45-55 years, but symptoms can often be experienced earlier. Many women experience

symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, feelings of anxiety, weight gain, struggle to concentrate and sleep issues.

Our resident sleep expert Dr Lindsay Browning has seen that 12% of women generally experience sleep problems, which rises to 40-60% during perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.

In our latest blog, we wanted to share some tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

1. Practice a restful wind-down routine:

  • Ditch the tech 1hr before bed.

  • Avoid spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol before bed.

  • Keep a notebook beside your bed and jot down any thoughts to clear your mind.

  • Practice meditation.

  • Let go of any sleep expectations (difficult, we know!).

2. Try to keep the bedroom cool, the optimum temperature is 18C or 65F.

3. Have your own duvet, sheets or blankets, depending upon how warm it is.

4. Wear cotton PJs or nighties, they will be cooler. Don’t forget to keep a spare set close

5. by in case you need them.

6. Be kind to yourself, and remember you are not alone.

Resources: Where to seek help

If you need further support, start by seeing your GP or checking out your EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) at work. Be prepared for these discussions, as you may forget important points and take notes to explain what you are experiencing.

Mindfulness can also positively affect menopause symptoms such as irritability, depression and anxiety. In a recent study Medical News Today (29 Jan 2019) advises: “The goal during mindful moments is not to empty the mind but to become an observer of our mind’s activity while being kind to ourselves.” To read more about this study, click here.

Whilst meditation may not eliminate menopausal symptoms, it can help us to become less stressed about them.  By becoming more 'at peace' with symptoms rather than fighting against them, meditation may allow enough space and stillness for sleep to happen and not add any extra 'heat' to the situation. 

Listening to a Breathing Space practice a few times throughout the day and a Body Scan practice at bedtime might help to reduce stress levels and prepare you for a peaceful slumber. 

As someone experiencing perimenopause, I am so grateful for my meditation practice as I experience higher anxiety levels and low mood during this time.  When my insomnia arrives, I find that listening to soothing sleep sounds or a yoga practice really helps - most of the time.  There are occasions when sleep is elusive, and in those moments, I find that not trying to force sleep and mindfully accepting the situation is a kinder and less stressful approach. If you want to try mindfulness, there are some great apps available, such as Insight Timer,

Headspace and Calm, which can help get you started with mindfulness.

In Summary

If you wish to read further about the topic of sleep, why not check out some of our other articles, “Sleep our Resilience Superpower” and “Sleep Better with Mindful Meditation.”

We have also created a resource to help HRDs and Line Managers support their teams in understanding more about menopause, please drop me an email to to receive your complimentary copy. Of course, if you would also like to understand how we can support the well-being strategy in the workplace, please get in touch.

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