One of the most frustrating and symptoms of menopause is insomnia…whether you suffer from hot flashes, awaken to go to the bathroom…you know the drill. Ugh!
Meet Karen Giblin – she is the founder of RedHotMamas.org and helped to sponsor a survey of 900 menopausal women that revealeda majority are suffering from insomnia and – for many reasons – are not speaking with their health care providers about it. As a result of this survey an educational effort has been created called Take Back Your Sleep to help women better understand, manage and cope with the “change of life” and the many symptoms that come along with menopause – particularly insomnia.
Recently Ms. Giblin took some questions from us regarding the symptoms of menopause:
Q: What symptoms or characteristics of menopause do you find that women struggle with the most?
A: There are a number of irritating symptoms associated with menopause that women struggle with including, hot flashes, night sweats and irritability – to name a few. However, insomnia is one symptom of menopause that is commonly overlooked by both women and their doctors or healthcare professionals.
Women experience sleeplessness as a result of their insomnia and often just chalk it up to being a “normal” part of menopause. However, often times, insomnia as a result of menopause is severe enough to warrant attention from their doctors.
Q: Are sleep problems a result of other menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, or is it a separate issue altogether?
A: There are several common misconceptions about menopausal symptoms, one of which is that experiencing sleep problems is just a typical part of the menopause process. However, it’s imperative for women to know that if they are experiencing difficulty sleeping during menopause, it could be a sign of insomnia. If women continue to experience persistent sleep problems, they should work closely with their doctor to address the issue.
In fact, a recently release survey of more than 900 women who experienced sleep problems during menopause, revealed just how significant of an issue insomnia can be for women. Women surveyed noted the immense impact their insomnia during menopause had on multiple aspects of their life. Specifically, women indicated that they experienced daytime drowsiness or fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating on certain tasks. The survey also showed that women’s personal and romantic relationships also suffered as a result of their insomnia during menopause, with 34 percent indicating intimacy with their husband or partner was affected.
I recommend women visit www.TakeBackYourSleep.com if they are interested in learning more about the insomnia and menopause connection. The website offers more information on the survey findings, in addition to tips and tools on how to effectively address and manage insomnia during menopause.
Q: Why do you think this symptom is so overlooked, and goes unaddressed?
A: Insomnia continues to be overlooked and under-treated due to a lack of communication between women and their doctors. Oftentimes, insomnia during menopause is not proactively addressed by doctors and alternatively, women don’t effectively communicate their symptoms to doctors.
In the study referenced earlier, 62 percent of the women surveyed said they had not talked to their doctor about the symptoms of insomnia they experienced during menopause. Of the women who did talk to their doctor (only 38 percent), 92 percent noted that they had to initiate the conversation themselves.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of open and honest communication between women and their doctors. I often recommend that women track their symptoms and use discussion tools to help guide their conversations with their doctors.
Q: How did you get to this place where you’re helping women understand, live with and cope with the age-old ‘curse’ of menopause?
A: When I was in my 40’s, I experienced some health issues and was forced into surgical menopause. My experience was life-altering to say the least; after going through the emotional ups and downs and the numerous symptoms of menopause, I came to the realization that women need more education about menopause. Going through menopause can often leave you feeling lonely and isolated, and it’s important for women to know that they’re not alone in this!
With that in mind, in 1991, I founded Red Hot Mamas Inc., an organization dedicated solely to educating and providing support networks for women going through menopause. Now, nearly 20 years later, Red Hot Mamas is the nation’s largest menopause management education program, with monthly program series licensed to hospitals and physician practices across the country. My goal is to empower women to take charge of their menopause and to be the biggest advocates for themselves and their health.
Q: If you could say one thing to a woman just beginning to struggle with hot flashes and other symptoms, what would it be?
A: Know that you are not alone! Millions of women are struggling or have struggled with these same symptoms. Don’t be afraid to speak up about all of your symptoms and make sure you work closely with your doctor to address each and every one. It will then be easier for your doctor to create a treatment plan that will work best for you.
Also know that there are resources out there that can help. Visit TakeBackYourSleep.com and/or RedHotMamas.org for more information and helpful tools.