How to Beat Menopause Fatigue

3 minute read

By: Sheryl Kraft|Last updated: May 10, 2022
Medically reviewed by: Sharon D. Malone

It’s hardly uncommon to come face-to-face with various symptoms during the menopause years. Among the most bothersome menopause symptoms: Menopause fatigue.

Yawn, yawn.

Like hot flashes and mood swings, menopausal fatigue is a common complaint that usually surfaces in the early years of menopause, during perimenopause, when your body is adjusting to your ever-shifting hormone levels.

It’s a familiar story: After a less-than-stellar night’s sleep, you’re dragging your you-know-what through your day, wondering how in the world you’ll make it until bedtime.

Will I ever sleep? becomes the refrain.

7 Reasons You Might Have Menopause Fatigue

When you consider menopause and it’s crazy-making symptoms, then add the phase of life you’re in, it’s pretty easy to understand that you might be suffering from fatigue.

  • For some, it’s hot flashes and night sweats causing sleepless nights.

  • For others, it’s a racing heart and anxiety. Emotions can take a lot out of you, sapping your energy.

  • You might be going through normal midlife changes that bump up against and coincide with menopause: changes in marital status, taking care of teenagers and/or aging parents, job responsibilities, financial worries, etc.

  • For many, it’s middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom. (Our bladder muscles aren’t what they used to be.)

  • It might be that you’re staying up too late. Burning the midnight oil isn’t as easy as it was when you were in your 20s.

  • Are you bored? Among other things, boredom can cause fatigue. Maybe you’ve stopped working or your work is no longer fulfilling. (Time to take up painting or piano again? A hobby will keep your mind engaged and your brain from atrophying.)

  • Napping can be restorative. But beware of naps longer than 30 minutes, which can cause brain fog  and lethargy for the rest of the day and make it tough to fall asleep at night.

  • Maybe you’re simply taking on too much. (Remember, “No” is a complete sentence.) Too many of us don’t use that simple word which can save us so much time and energy. This means setting realistic goals and limits. Doing so can help you feel less stressed, harried and rushed — and can lift the proverbial load off your shoulders. Keep to a simple equation of less stress = more energy.

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Other Reasons You Could be Tired

Naturally, it’s easy to pin your fatigue on menopause. And chances are good that many of its symptoms are to blame for your fatigue. But make sure not to ignore other possible reasons you could be tired, like:

  • Alcohol or drug use

  • Too much — or too little — physical activity

  • Certain medications, like antihistamines or cough medicines

  • Medical conditions like anemia, diabetes, cancer.

  • Depression or grief

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Stress

How to Fight Menopause Fatigue

What, you’re tired of feeling tired? We get it. If the tried-and-true warm milk and sheep-counting still fail to produce the zzzz’s you need, here are some sound suggestions:

Exercise daily. You might feel too fatigued to exercise, but once you get going, you’re bound to gain energy. Studies back up that fact, finding that physical activity improves sleep quality and duration and can be especially helpful for women with hot flashes and night sweats.

Exercise creates cellular changes that increase your body’s supply of energy. An added plus? Moving more helps boost oxygen and endorphin levels. Endorphins are those “feel good” neurotransmitters, responsible for what’s known as a “runner’s high.”

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But a word of caution: Try not to exercise too vigorously too close to bedtime (about one hour prior), when it can instead stimulate your body and mind, making sleep harder to come by.

Limit caffeine consumption. Reaching for more coffee to get you through your day might seem like a good idea, and it is, to a point. But drink too much and you risk insomnia. Experts suggest a daily limit of 400 mg of caffeine. (For reference, an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains about 96 mg. of caffeine.) A word to the wise: Watch out for energy drinks, some which are known to contain high levels of caffeine.

Although too much is not great for sleep, some caffeine offers many positive health benefits, due to its antioxidants and other active substances. These help curb internal inflammation and guard against diseases, like Parkinson’s, coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes and kidney disease. Also on the list: A lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Watch your alcohol intake. That infamous “nightcap” could be counter-productive, if it’s more than a little. Yes, alcohol acts as a sedative, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a good night’s rest. Did you ever notice that when you drink too much, you toss and turn and never wake refreshed? In excess, alcohol use and consumption has been linked to insomnia. That’s because it can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, especially during REM or deep sleep, the phase that is essential for memory consolidation and dreaming.

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Alcohol can also increase the risk of sleep apnea, another sleep-stealer, which is also dangerous to your health.

It’s best to keep to a single serving of alcohol, which translates to 12-ounces of beer or 5-ounces of wine.

Stay consistent. To sleep better and help your body adjust, aim for a routine bedtime and wake-time each day, even on weekends. Also helpful: Follow a consistent pre-bed routine, like disconnecting from electronics, listening to some relaxation music, soaking in a warm bath and lowering the lights.

Create a comfortable sleep environment. This includes a comfy mattress, pillows and sheets along with a cool temperature (experts advise about 65 degrees Fahrenheit). Also helpful: Keeping noise to a minimum with earplugs, headphones or a white noise machine; blocking out light with blackout curtains or a sleep mask; eliminating clutter; using essential oils such as lavender.

Try meditation. It has superpowers: It can eliminate stress and increase energy, according to this 2015 study, which also lauds meditation for improving health, reducing pain, helping to lower blood pressure, improve memory and increase efficiency.

Eliminate electronics. Computers, TVs, iPads all conspire against a good night’s sleep. That’s because they stimulate your brain, plus emit blue light which can interfere with a solid night’s rest. A good rule of thumb? Lights out about an hour before bedtime, or a total before-bed ban altogether.

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Eat for sleep. Just as spicy, greasy, heavy foods keep your stomach churning and keep you from sleeping well, there are foods that promote healthy sleep too. Consider complex carbs like whole-grain breads, pasta, crackers and brown rice; lean proteins like chicken, turkey, fish and low-fat cheese; heart-healthy fats like peanut butter and nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts. Herbal tea and warm milk can be soothing beverages for bedtime, too.

We know that menopausal symptoms are no joke, especially menopausal fatigue. Talk to our team at Alloy today for more on how to beat menopause fatigue. 

Sources:

  1. Eric Suni. "Healthy Sleep Tips". Sleep Foundation. Nov 18, 2021. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips

  2. Danielle Pacheco. "How Electronics Affect Sleep". Sleep Foundation. Nov 6, 2020. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-electronics-affect-sleep

  3. Danielle Pacheco. "Exercise and Sleep". Sleep Foundation. Dec 9, 2021. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-activity/exercise-and-sleep

  4. Danielle Pacheco. "Alcohol and Sleep". Sleep Foundation. Nov 29, 2021. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/alcohol-and-sleep

  5. "Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress". Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

  6. "Fatigue". Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/fatigue/basics/definition/sym-20050894

  7. Kristin Kirkpatrick. "5 Foods That Help You Sleep". Cleveleand Clinic. Jan 13, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-foods-that-help-you-sleep/

  8. "Increasing physical activity may improve sleep for menopausal women". Sleep Education. https://sleepeducation.org/increasing-physical-activity-improve-sleep-menopausal-women/

  9. "Does exercising at night affect sleep?". Harvard Health. Apr 1, 2019. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/does-exercising-at-night-affect-sleep

  10. Ward-Ritacco, Christie L et al. “Feelings of energy are associated with physical activity and sleep quality, but not adiposity, in middle-aged postmenopausal women.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) vol. 22,3 (2015): 304-11. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000000315

  11. "Fatigue". National Insitute of Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/topics/fatigue

  12. "Stress management". Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469

  13. "Nutrition and healthy eating". Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372?p=1 https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

  14. "9 Reasons Why (the Right Amount of) Coffee Is Good for You". Johns Hopkins. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/9-reasons-why-the-right-amount-of-coffee-is-good-for-you

Written by:

Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft is a seasoned freelance health writer, who writes, and is passionate about, healthy aging, wellness, fitness, nutrition and just about anything related to improving our lifestyle and personal health. Her work has been published widely in print and online outlets, including AARP, Parade, Family Circle, Weight Watchers, Spry, Prevention, WebMD, Everyday Health and many more. Sheryl lives in Fairfield County, CT., with husband Alan and new puppy Annie, and is the mother of two grown sons, Jonathan and Jeremy.

Medically reviewed by:

Sharon D. Malone

Dr. Sharon Malone is among the nation’s leading obstetrician / gynecologists with a focus on the specific health challenges associated with menopause.