If you’re in your 40s (or even 30s) and you’re experiencing sleep problems – maybe you have a hard time falling asleep – it could be because you’re undergoing perimenopause. So read on to learn why perimenopause often goes hand-in-hand with sleep problems.
Perimenopause and Sleep Disturbance
Perimenopause comes with rapid changes in various hormone levels. Hormones are “chemical messengers” your body uses to regulate important things like metabolism, menstrual cycles, sleep, and more. As such, a perimenopausal shift in certain hormone levels can dramatically affect different aspects of your body’s biology.
Consider melatonin, for example. Melatonin is a hormone your body releases into the bloodstream to promote a regular sleep-wake cycle.
As you age, however, your body releases less and less melatonin. A study by EverlyWell’s clinical research team – presented at the NIH’s “Sleep and the Health of Women” conference last year – found that melatonin levels are lower among women aged 50 and over compared to women under age 50 (a trend that has been shown in many other studies).
Many women begin entering menopause around this age – in the United States, the average age for entering menopause is 51 – which strongly suggests that melatonin levels play a role in the sleep issues often experienced by women transitioning into menopause.
Estradiol – a form of estrogen – is another hormone that can be involved in sleep problems during perimenopause. For example, a fall in estradiol levels – common during the menopausal transition – is linked with poorer sleep quality . Additionally, studies show that sleep quality tends to deteriorate as FSH levels rise  – which is also common during the menopause transition. (FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, plays a key role in the menstrual cycle.)
What’s more, there’s evidence that sleep quality can be particularly poor if hormone levels change very quickly .