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Sleep and the menopause quiz

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Hot flushes are rarely the cause of interrupted sleep.

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Hot flushes are rarely the cause of interrupted sleep.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Hot flushes, as well as night sweats, are the most common symptoms of 'the change of life'. Three out of 4 menopausal women get them and the malfunction they trigger in your body's temperature control system is a key cause of disrupted sleep. Medically known as 'vasomotor' symptoms, their intensity may vary, but commonly include:

  • A feeling of rapidly increasing heat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Red flushing of the face and neck

It's all a result of falling levels of the hormone oestrogen. Hot flushes do go away, but how long that takes varies. Some go on for months or years, while others can linger for over a decade.

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Which of these bedroom tips help manage hot flushes?

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Which of these bedroom tips help manage hot flushes?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Staying cool is the key to coping with hot flushes, especially at night. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and well ventilated. Use a fan if necessary. Heavy bedding like duvets can end up drenched, so choose layers of sheets that you can throw off when you feel a hot flush coming on. Avoid heavy woollen, flannel, or man-made night-clothes, and wear light breathable fabrics like cotton. Wind down before bed with a lukewarm shower or bath, and if you have trouble dropping off, get up and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy again.

Which of these can trigger night sweats?

Which of these can trigger night sweats?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Research suggests that spicy foods can raise your body temperature and disrupt sleep. So, if you crave Indian food or other hot fare, try eating it for lunch, not dinner. Chocolate and coffee contain caffeine that's notorious for keeping you awake. Limit intake of these stimulants to earlier in the day when you need to be alert.

Which drink can soothe hot flushes and help you sleep?

Which drink can soothe hot flushes and help you sleep?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Rather than soothing hot flushes, alcohol like beer or wine can make them worse. You may fall asleep more quickly after drinking alcohol but you're more likely to keep waking up and fail to get enough deep sleep.  Soya milk is rich in phyto or plant oestrogens that have been linked to a reduction in menopausal symptoms, but more research is needed. Plus, a hot drink can also trigger flushes as it leads your brain to believe you are overheating, when you're not.

Exercise just before bedtime can help you sleep better during menopause.

Exercise just before bedtime can help you sleep better during menopause.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Regular, healthy exercise can help improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. However, jogging round the block before bedtime isn't recommended. Exercise gets your adrenaline pumping and stimulates your body, which is fine when you want an energy boost, but not so good when you want your body to wind down and get some rest. Don’t stop working out though, as aerobic exercise can help you avert weight gain associated with menopause, while strength training can keep your bones healthy and strong. Avoid vigorous exercise within 3 hours of going to bed and try gentle stretches or yoga poses instead.

Which of these can help prevent insomnia during menopause?

Which of these can help prevent insomnia during menopause?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Establishing a healthy sleep routine can help with insomnia. That includes getting up and going to bed at about the same time each day, even at the weekend. Establishing a relaxing, bedtime ritual like dimming lights and reading may help you wind down too. Napping at any time during the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

Sleeping pills help improve sleep quality during menopause.

Sleeping pills help improve sleep quality during menopause.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Sleeping pills induce sleep, but not necessarily healthy sleep. There are also some troubling side-effects of long-term use of hypnotics that may not be worth it. See your GP before taking any sleep aids. He or she may suggest you try hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or help you with alternative sleep therapy from meditation to yoga or deep breathing relaxation techniques.

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