Guest Author - Tammy Elizabeth Southin
If you are going through menopause or peri-menopause, you are likely tired; not to mention tired of being tired. One of the most frequent complaints associated with menopause, fatigue drains us of energy just when we need it the most. Understanding what causes your fatigue is the first step to finding ways to cope with this condition during menopause.
Symptoms of fatigue in menopause may seem obvious, but what you want to look for are changes compared to previous energy levels. Feeling tired from time to time affects almost everyone; the difference is noticing new patterns of tiredness in your body. It is normal to feel exhausted after hosting a big family event, but it is not normal to feel drained from folding the laundry.
During menopause, you may notice:
*A complete lack of energy to get through the day
*The simplest tasks – unloading the dishwasher – seem overwhelming
*Feeling tired in the daytime to the point where you feel worse than the usual 2:00 p.m. slump
*The strong urge for a nap, or even nodding off at your desk, on your commute, or when driving
*Increased irritability with those around you, or frustration that the simplest of tasks that should take a couple of minutes become 20 minute chores
*If you could have one day to yourself to do anything you wanted, sleep would be at the top of your list, followed by more sleep
Causes of fatigue during menopause
Hormones play a huge part in fatigue during menopause. Lower estrogen levels often lead to night sweats or interrupted sleep, leaving you unable to get a good night’s sleep. At the same time, decreased estrogen can simply rob you of energy during the day even if you do manage to get a night of uninterrupted sleep. Another common problem is many women find they need to urinate during the night which further disrupts a good quality sleep.
When it comes to fatigue, we are often our own worst enemies. Most of us are trying to do so many things between raising families, working at jobs, participating in social groups, and cleaning houses. We exhaust ourselves trying to push ourselves harder believing that sleep is something we can do without in our 24/7 world.
Think of the many people who brag about getting by on a couple of hours sleep and dragging themselves around. When was the last time you heard someone proudly proclaim that they had a good night’s sleep? To do so would seem like a sign of weakness or indulgence.
But we need to ensure we do what we can in the face of menopause or peri-menopause to deal with fatigue. Ignoring it or vainly pushing on will only make the problem worse, and add to the vicious cycle of being tired all the time.
Dealing with fatigue during menopause is not giving in to our bodies or a sign that menopause is taking control. We need to keep our bodies healthy and learn the ways that will work best for us in dealing with fatigue.
*Hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed to deal with troublesome night sweats that disrupt your sleep. HRT will help to rebalance the hormones and increase estrogen levels.
*Not sure about HRT? You may want to consider alternative therapies such as soy or black cohosh which have been shown to work in the same way as synthetic hormones to combat night sweats and fatigue.
*Add exercise to your day, even just 30 minutes of walking, to help boost energy levels during the day and help you sleep better at night. Just avoid exercising too close to bedtime as this will only rev up the body and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
*Avoid the urge to use alcohol to help you sleep; besides the other side-effects associated with increased alcohol consumption, alcohol actually disrupts sleep patterns.
*Switch from caffeinated beverages and try herbal teas to help you relax, as well as break the habit of reaching too often for coffee, cola or chocolate as a way to cope with fatigue. The supposed boost is short lived and you will feel even worse after the crash.
*Try different relaxation methods to help you deal with stress. You might find yoga or tai chi a great way to reduce stress. Or try deep breathing or meditation exercises before bed to help you relax.
*Avoid eating before going to bed as your body will still be working to digest food at a time when it should be in rest mode. If you really need to eat something, have a small serving of fruit or cup of warm milk, and avoid rich, sugary and starchy foods.
*Make your bedroom a sleep zone. Aside from maybe a little reading to help you get ready to sleep your bed should be for sleep and sensual intercourse. Ditch the television and laptop at the door. Keep the room dark and cool to help make you more comfortable at night. Avoid heavy blankets or nightwear to stave off night sweats.
Despite your best efforts fatigue can still be a part of menopause. But it does not have to control every aspect of your day. By experimenting with various coping methods, you can find ways to lessen the way fatigue interferes with your life, and you no longer have to be tired with being tired all the time.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You