Feeling like you never get enough rest at night? Do you feel like your brain is foggy and you are just plain exhausted as you try to go about your daily obligations? You are not alone. Perimenopause fatigue is a very common symptom and it is frustrating as hell. There are some things happening in your body that cause extreme fatigue when you are in perimenopause. Let’s talk about them.
Firstly, Why Do We Need Sleep?
Our bodies require a long period of sleep for optimal health and wellbeing. During sleep, our bodies consolidate memories and experiences, restore and rejuvenate, repair tissues, grow muscle, and synthesize hormones. When we do not get enough consecutive hours of sleep, our bodies are not able to complete all of these necessary tasks in order to perform at our best.
Interestingly, our bodies regulate sleep similarly to the way we regulate breathing, eating, and drinking. Therefore, while scientists are still exploring theories for why we sleep, there is consensus that sleep serves a critical role in our health and well-being. Unfortunately, when we are in perimenopause, there are a number of symptoms (try at least 34 symptoms of perimenopause) that prevent women from getting enough sleep. Consequently, fatigue during perimenopause further aggravates an already stressed body.
Perimenopause and Extreme Fatigue
During perimenopause, your body is going through some pretty intense hormonal changes as your ovaries begin to shut the doors on their reproductive years. Coupled with other symptoms that accompany the perimenopausal period including night sweats, insomnia, and hot flashes, it can feel impossible to get a good night’s rest.
In perimenopause, you experience fluctuating hormone levels. Estrogen and progesterone (hormones produced in the ovaries) tend to decline as you go through menopause. However, there are receptors for estrogen and progesterone all over your body. Thus, changes in your ovaries affect your whole body.
Unfortunately, when we are in perimenopause, there are a number of symptoms (try at least 34 symptoms of perimenopause) that prevent women from getting enough sleep. Consequently, fatigue during perimenopause further aggravates an already stressed body.
The Relationship Between Melatonin and Perimenopause Fatigue
Melatonin, the sleep hormone, has also been found to change profoundly during perimenopause. In the journal Sleep Science, a comprehensive study was conducted to evaluate the links between sleep, melatonin, and menopause. The research demonstrated that melatonin levels decrease during the perimenopausal period. However, melatonin levels decline more slowly compared to estrogen and progesterone. Furthermore, the study found that exogenous melatonin (for example, taking a melatonin supplement) can improve sleep quality in perimenopausal women.
Research has further suggested that a decrease in melatonin may be linked to the onset of perimenopause. While a decline in melatonin has been linked between perimenopause and extreme fatigue, it is important to note that men also experience a decline in sleep quality around the same time as women. Along with a decrease in melatonin secretion in both men and women, aging also leads to impairments in your circadian system. Therefore, changes in sleep quality are a part of the normal aging process in both women and men.
Despite knowing that your sleep changes as you age, it still doesn’t make living with fatigue any easier. Many women in perimenopause find their fatigue extremely debilitating. For example, fatigue can cause depression, poor concentration, and an overall decrease in quality of life. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve fatigue during menopause.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.