As women, our bodies are capable of extraordinary, life-giving feats. They carry us through transformational moments, protect our vital organs, and adapt as our life circumstances demand.
But throughout all of the many changes that occur in our lives, pregnancy and perimenopause/menopause are two of the most challenging in regards to hormonal health. With so much out of our control, it’s important to know what’s happening to our bodies and what we can control in order to minimize the negative effects.
Menopause Study Results
ChiliSleep was recently involved in a new Wake Forest menopause study, which investigated the role between colder sleep and the worst symptoms of menopause: night sweats and hot flashes. View the Menopause Study Results.
A woman’s body is regulated by her hormones. During massive transitions like the shift into pregnancy or menopause, hormones act as messengers to let our bodily systems know how to perform to support these changes. The key hormones in play are predominantly estrogen and progesterone. These two control the reproductive system and determine everything from egg count to egg quality and during menopause, they are no longer regulated as efficiently.
The change in hormonal balance, whether during pregnancy or menopause can cause a change in everything from our mood, to the types of food we crave, which is why it’s very normal that pregnancy and menopause can be confused. Below is a chart of the various symptoms experienced during both life phases. Not surprisingly, there’s a number of similarities between the two.
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Some of the overlapping areas worth noting from the chart are hot flashes as well as night sweats. These symptoms are common as around 85% of women experience them in some form. And while scientists are still uncertain what exactly causes hot flashes, their impacts continue to be studied, we do know they are related to our changing hormones. Recent estimates show that in regards to menopause specifically, hot flashes can continue for around 5.2 years! That’s a lot of years to experience disrupted days and nights due to discomfort and sweating.
Researchers continue to link poor sleep quality to hormonal changes in women, but specifically, they’ve found that the prevalence of insomnia in women coincides with the age when menopause begins. This means that the sooner you start experiencing menopause or perimenopause, the sooner your sleep quality is at risk. For pregnant women, a lack of sleep can also be tied to their hormones like estrogen tampering with your body’s ability to thermoregulate, which references your internal body temperature’s ability to remain steady and healthy.
Pregnant women are also at a disadvantage for properly regulated internal temperature due to a 40% increase in their blood plasma volume, which leads to a sensation of being constantly “warmer” than pre-pregnancy. When our thermoregulation is out of whack like this, the onset of sleep doesn’t arrive as easily, and it’s harder for us to stay asleep too. Our body tries to help by releasing sweat to cool our skin, which is great! However, most of us would rather avoid sweaty sheets altogether and get to sleep comfortably each night.
Sleep Cool, Sleep Well
Anytime your body is going through a hormonal change, your internal temperature fluctuates. No matter what phase of life you’re encountering, it’s important to prioritize your self-care by reducing stress and fatigue. We all deserve to feel our absolute best each day, but that starts with better sleep each night. I’ve written in-depth about the relationship between better sleep and cooler core temperature, and it’s something that could change your life forever.
To show up as the best mothers, sisters, wives, and friends we can, we have to prioritize our bodies and minds, and that begins with sleep. First, I always suggest diving into mindfulness or journaling at the end of your day to remind yourself of the things you are grateful for. It can be so easy to let our minds wander to things that stress us out or need “doing”, but this is your time to let go of those things and focus on this moment.
Try some deep breathing with counts to force your mind to stay focused on your own breath and how you’re feeling right now. Once your mind begins to relax, the rest of the body can follow.
Bed Cooling Systems
Once you’ve put the cellphone down and the lights are off, your body still needs one final “trigger” to let it know, “We can sleep now.” This “trigger” is a decrease in temperature. Although humans no longer sleep outdoors, exposed to the elements, our bodies still expect the sun to go down and the environment to cool in order for sleep to commence. By reducing the temperature and putting a cooling mattress pad like our Cube or OOLER underneath you, you can hack this primal response and convince your body that it’s truly bedtime. Isn’t that amazing?
Not only will you fall asleep faster but you will stay asleep longer, even through hot flashes and shifting hormones, because of the cooler internal temperature you have established. Don’t let night sweats and hot flashes ruin your sacred mental and physical restoration time.
Take back your sleep schedule, eliminate discomfort, and restore the deep sleep your body is craving.