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Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise
Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise

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4 Increasing sleep drive

One piece of advice about sleep is that you should go to bed at the same time each night and then get up at the same time every morning. However, if significant stretches of this time in bed are spent awake then the strategy becomes flawed. Increasing sleep drive, or the desire to sleep, may be a better strategy as you will see in Activity 1.

Activity 1 Sleep strategies

Timing: Allow 20 minutes

Listen to Audio 1, taken from a podcast where menopause doctor, Louise Newson, discusses strategies on how to get the best night’s sleep with sleep expert, Kathryn Pinkham. Then answer the following questions:

  1. Why may sleep hygiene measures be counterproductive?
  2. How can sleep drive be increased?
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 1 You Are Feeling Sleeeepy: Kathryn Pinkham
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Audio 1 You Are Feeling Sleeeepy: Kathryn Pinkham and Dr Louise Newson
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Ironically, the focus on creating an environment conducive to sleep can start to make an issue of sleep and actually create anxiety around the activity. Going to bed can become a trigger for anxiety, making the problem worse. Spending time awake in bed is a real problem and may be helped by increasing sleep drive rather than sleep quantity. This is done by working out how much sleep you need and ensuring that you are tired and ready to sleep when you go to bed rather than creating a comfortable environment and hoping it will happen. A loss of sleep during the week cannot be effectively compensated for by having lie-ins at the weekend unfortunately.

If you have tried several interventions to improve sleep but to no avail it is worth speaking to a healthcare professional so they can consider more focused treatments. Sleep quality is so closely linked to mental health and during the menopause 95% of women said they had experienced changes to their mood and emotions since their perimenopause and menopause (Newson, 2023). The most commonly reported symptoms were stress and anxiety and you will go on now to consider stress.