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Do you ever think...if I go to bed now, I will only get 6 hours of sleep? That of course, is assuming I don’t wake up in the middle of the night. It’s completely normal to fixate on the amount of sleep we get, but what we sometimes forget is the quality of this sleep is just as important. For menopausal women, the problem intensifies. Menopause and sleep problems is one of the most difficult parts of this stage of life.

Menopause and SLEEP | REM and Your SLEEP Cycle


Do you ever think…if I go to bed now, I will only get 6 hours of sleep? That of course is assuming I don’t wake up in the middle of the night. It’s completely normal to fixate on the amount of sleep time we get, but what we sometimes forget is the quality of this sleep is just as important. For menopausal women, the problem of menopause and sleep go hand in hand. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 61% of menopausal women have sleep-related menopausal symptoms. (webmd.com). We’re here to help explain why you may be having poor sleep quality through your menopausal transition.

Symptoms of Menopause that Affect Sleep

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Hot flashes and night sweats can be very disruptive to sleep and over time can cause long-term sleep disruptions. Hot flashes are one of the most common menopausal symptoms. Approximately 75%-85% of menopausal women experience hot flashes, which can last on average for five years. (webmd.com). Women tend to get hot flashes during their REM cycles among other things, stimulating the areas of your brain that are crucial to retaining information and making memories.

Mood Disorders

Anxiety and mood swings can also cause disturbed sleep. During the menopause transition, the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone in your body can cause feelings of anxiety or depression. If your mind is racing and you have trouble relaxing the quantity and quality of your sleep can be affected. Anxiety can cause many women to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. These feelings can quickly turn into a vicious cycle. The less you sleep, the more anxious you become about not sleeping.

Menopause and Sleep Cycles

In order to get true high-quality sleep, one must progress throughout a cycle – known as the sleep cycle – multiple times. The cycle consists of four separate sleep stages which in sum last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Each stage in the cycle plays a critical role in sleep’s restorative process, allowing you to feel mentally and physically refreshed when you wake. 

Usually, your first time through the cycle is the shortest and each time gets longer throughout your sleep. Not only does your overall cycle length adjust, but the proportion of time spent in each stage. Factors such as sleep disorders, alcohol consumption, age, and recent sleep patterns are key factors in the composition of a sleep cycle. 

Before we get into the four stages, a brief background on “REM”. REM stands for rapid eye movement, which is a helpful indicator of the kind of sleep you are getting. This is when your eyes are moving rapidly in many directions, but they don’t send visual information to the brain. 

Now, onto the four sleep stage transitions.

Sleep Stage Transition 1: Transition to Sleep

 your first non-REM stage, is the shift from wakefulness to sleep. During this 1-5 minute stage, you doze off but you wake up easily. Your body and brain start to slow down; your muscles relax and your eye movements slow. If there are no sleep disturbances, you move into stage 2.

Sleep Stage Transition 2: Light Sleep

The second stage is another non-REM stage, is a period of light sleep. During this stage, breathing and heart rate slow, and your body experiences a drop in temperature. Your brain waves are generally slow, but marked short bursts of activity which help resist external factors from waking you. The average person spends about half of their sleep in this stage. 

Sleep Stage Transition 3: Deep Sleep

The third stage (also non-REM) is the period of deep sleep that allows for body recovery and growth. It restores and improves bodily processes, while simultaneously boosting insight, creativity, and memory at a time when brain activity is reduced. Most of our deep sleep takes place in the first half of the night, and tends to last 20-40 minutes. 

Sleep Stage Transition 4: REM Sleep

The fourth stage is the only REM stage, is characterized by your eyes moving rapidly from side to side behind shut eyelids. Brain activity increases, closely resembling that of when you are awake. Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure rise steadily. The REM stage is where most of your dreaming occurs, and atonia (the temporary paralysis muscles) prevents you from acting on these dreams. However, the muscles that control breathing and your eye muscles (hence the name REM cycle) remain active. Your REM stage becomes longer towards the second half of your night, making up about 25% of an adult’s sleep. 

The complex and lengthy sleep cycle reveals that when it comes to a good night’s rest, some things are out of our control. The good news: a lot is in our control! sleep hygiene, which includes the environment you sleep in and your daily routines that promote consistent sleep, can be adjusted to ensure that both the quantity and quality of sleep you get allows for the best version of you. So many women suffer from sleep difficulties and it is something we should not ignore. Sleep is crucial to your overall wellness and if you are not sleeping, you have to do something about it.  Hello Again’s vaginal suppositories or menopause teas for sleep can help you get the sleep you need, so you can feel like yourself again.

solving menopause sleep problems

Why is Sleep So Important

We’ve all been told that sleep is important, but it’s not everyday you hear why this is the case. Like anything else, fully understanding the benefits of sleep will likely motivate you to get more of it – so we suggest you put your brain to work now so that it can get the rest it needs later. There are endless reasons why sleep is important, and below we highlight five that (we hope!) will convince you to hit the hay.

Energy and Mood

Think about how often we blame our temper or laziness on a lousy slumber. It probably comes as no surprise that a poor night of sleep can affect how you feel the next day, but let’s break it down for you. Sleep deficiency wreaks havoc in the brain – impairing the way you think and act, and the amount of energy you have. With a lack of sleep comes a lack of enthusiasm, stamina, positivity, libido… the list goes on. The bottom line is that to be your best self – the person that you enjoy being and that others enjoy being around – sleep is essential.


Sleep improves our ability to process both analytical and emotional information. Studies have found that sleep-deprived individuals make significantly more errors in their work, and have a more difficult time recognizing social cues. When asleep, new knowledge is integrated into our base of existing knowledge. Therefore, a good night’s sleep is linked to test scores, work performance, and healthy relationships.


An overwhelming amount of evidence reveals that sleep hygiene translates into a healthy diet. When we don’t get enough sleep, we often turn to food to provide the energy we didn’t get from rest. Furthermore, exhaustion can lead to poor decision making – directing our focus on cravings rather than what is nutritious.

Restoration and Memory

Sleep allows us to consolidate and solidify memories. For something to become a memory, three steps need to occur: acquisition, consolidation, and recall. Acquiring and recalling memories are done when we are awake, but both episodic and fact-based memories are ingrained in our minds while we are sleeping. During sleep, the hippocampus and neocortex replay and review a day’s events – translating them into long-term memories.

Immune Systems

Our immune systems are always at work, but they strengthen when we sleep. Warding off infections and illness is not easy for our immune systems, but the hours we rest give them the boost they need to raise our defenses. When a foreign body (known as a pathogen) enters our own, specialized T cells attach and tackle the pathogen. Research found that sleep enhances these T cell responses – because other receptors in the immune system are less active during sleep. Almost all adaptive immune responses require T cells to target a virus, so any steps that could improve their function – especially something as enjoyable as sleep – should be taken.

At the end of the day (literally!) sleep is extremely important to our well-being and quality of life. If you don’t get the sleep you need, you will spend more hours doing less or doing worse. Get the rest you need to be present and at your best while awake.

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