Sleep: The treasure trove of good health in midlife

It is true that women face distinct sleep issues throughout their lives due predominantly to hormonal changes besides various other factors. That is, these challenges can crop up even at menarche (onset of menstruation).

As such, during perimenopause and menopause transition, fluctuating hormones can take a toll on our physical and mental health. Adding poor sleep to the mix: Nah, definitely not good!

In fact, this is like adding oil to the fire because sleep is quintessential for the synchronization of hormone synthesis and secretion, which are heavily dependent on and share a bidirectional relationship with the circadian rhythm.

In this article, we have broken down the science behind sleep and the reasons why sleep deprivation during midlife can wreak havoc on different aspects of your health when left unaddressed. However, with timely intervention and conscious steps toward regaining sleep health, you can manage several of the associated symptoms during (peri)menopause and lower the risk of lifestyle diseases and mental health issues in the post-menopausal years.

Why is sleep crucial?

Emerging evidence indicates that the essential role of sleep is to help maintain the brain cells, especially by repairing DNA and removing toxins, which can be performed efficiently only when the brain cells are inactive. No wonder our brain is sluggish after a sleepless night!

According to the latest research, 7 hours of sleep is ideal in middle and old age for good cognitive and mental health. This is essential for the brain to gradually relax and enter the REM or slow-wave sleep stage, commonly referred to as “deep sleep”, for the toxin cleanup process to happen. Both poor and excessive sleep routines seem to cause changes in specific regions of the brain.

Due to this impact at the cellular level, adhering to the circadian rhythm i.e. a consistent sleep-wake cycle is highly important for basic metabolic functions, including but not limited to maintaining hormonal cycles, appetite/ feeding patterns, and glucose and fat metabolism.

All in all, good sleep is precious for physical and mental wellness!