You are at that stage in life when you think that menstruation and the horror that comes with it has stopped. But with it comes another daunting experience that includes hot flashes, sleep distraction, night sweats, fatigue, mood swings, and anxiety. Your search online points to a weighted blanket for menopause.
Two things become apparent; you are in the menopause stage of life and most probably, your savior has something to do with a weighted blanket.
You probably know that menopause is a stage that you have to go through in life, but you least expected that it has got it’s own fair share of painful experiences that if not managed well, can hamper your productivity.
But before we discuss how a weighted blanket can come in handy during menopause, we will first introduce what menopause is and how it can affect your productivity.
What is menopause?
WebMD defines menopause as the period in which a woman’s menstrual cycle comes to an end. Menopause is therefore used to describe the changes that women go through just before or after their menstrual cycles come to an end signifying the end of their reproductive period.
Menopause can be a natural occurrence or it can be influenced by other factors such as surgery or cancer treatment.
Every individual has its own unique experiences associated with menopause. However, common experiences that cut across include hot flashes, sleep distractions, night sweats, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and emotional/mood swings.
The most common age for natural menopause is 50 years, however, this varies greatly among individual women.
The awful experiences that women go through at this stage often coincide with or are compounded by other lifestyle changes in life such as retirement.
4 ways menopause affects sleep
Women attaining menopause experience difficulties in sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 61% of women in the post-menopausal period report insomnia symptoms. Snoring becomes common with frequent pauses or gasps in breathing. This could be a result of the following:
1. Hormonal change
According to Dr. Walsleben, menopause triggers a gradual reduction in the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones which are best known to promote sleep. Due to the reduced production, women at this stage struggle to fall asleep.
The reduction of estrogen in the body not only influences sleep, but it also gives room for other factors such as stress to pry on women. This is not the normal stress that we experience. It can range from abnormal triggers such as changes in room temperature, background noise, or even lights.
2. Hot flashes
Hot flashes are a common experience for women going through menopause.
You can describe hot flashes as a sudden feeling of heat that doesn’t seem to originate from anywhere but spreads rampantly to the whole body causing discomfort.
The hot flashes can be accompanied by profuse sweating, palpitations, and face flushes.
The occurrence of hot flashes can be occasionally during the day, however, in some women, it is so frequent that they find it disruptive, embarrassing, and uncomfortable.
Hot flashes can start immediately after you stop your menstrual cycles or some few months or years before the end of your menstrual periods. However, it can last several years after menopause kicks in.
The cause of hot flashes is attributable to changes in hormonal levels. The hormonal changes affect the body’s temperature control.
Hot flashes can happen before warning at any time of the day, however, in some cases, it can be triggered by:
- The use of spicy foods
- Drinking caffeine or alcohol
- Putting on warm and thick clothing
- Increase in temperature
- The feeling of anxiety or stressful conditions
- Certain treatments of cancer and this are common to both men and women
- The use of certain medication
- Underlying health conditions such as diabetes, tuberculosis, and an overactive thyroid
3. Mood swings
Menopause also leads to mood swings. More than 20% of the women in menopause report that their daily activities are hampered by mood/emotional swings.
The frequent shift in moods impacts sleep patterns reducing the quality of sleep. In some cases, this culminates in chronic insomnia.
4. Social changes
Not every woman’s social changes coincide with menopause, however, the timing and the stage of life at which menopause happens is where most women’s social lifestyles take a turn.
Some of the most common social lifestyle changes include children getting old and moving out of the parent’s home. The thought of how to adjust to staying alone can greatly impact their sleep pattern. Other parents might be thinking about retirement and investing for old age which gives them more stress and anxiety, resulting in loss of sleep.
5 natural remedies for menopause sleep problems
Quality sleep is important to any human being. Getting quality sleep is not a default thing, however, you need to put in some efforts to create a conducive environment.
In some cases, quality sleep may be affected by underlying conditions. In this case, menopause is one of the conditions that affect your sleep quality.
Having a sleep problem during menopause doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. There are some natural remedies for menopause sleep problems. These are discussed below.
1. Exercise the more
It’s true that everyone should get more exercise. Exercise cannot cure every condition, but it has been proven that it eases the symptoms of menopause and insomnia.
Engaging in physical activity makes you active and less sleepy during the day. It stimulates the production of endorphins and other feel-good hormones which help boost your mood. These are crucial for quality sleep.
The amount of physical activity you engage in doesn’t matter. The thing is, try to be active even if it’s just taking a 10-minute walk. However, the more vigorous the exercise is, the more beneficial to your sleep quality it will be.
You can also try to engage in yoga as an alternative to physical exercise. Yoga is good for helping the mind and body to relax.
2. Reduce caffeine intake
Caffeine is a body stimulant that stimulates the body 10 to 12 hours after taking it.
Research has shown that caffeine increases the frequency of hot flashes. It also delays the schedule of the body’s circadian rhythm. The resultant effect is a reduction in the total sleep time hence quality sleep can’t be guaranteed.
If you must take in caffeine, experts insist that you take it early morning so that by evening its effects won’t be too much.
3. Cooldown your bedroom
Ideal temperatures for sleeping should be lower. Experiencing hot flashes or night sweats signifies that you need to adjust your room temperatures even lower. This can be achieved via a thermostat. You can use natural materials such as cotton which is known to cool the body by absorbing sweats.
The optimal temperature for sleeping at night is 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can keep a glass of cold water or ice next to your bed so that you can use it to cool down quickly when the need arises.
4. Create a bedroom time routine
I know routine doesn’t sync well with you. I mean, you have had too many routines in your life and you are not about to take another one. But this one is even more important than the rest, trust me.
Creating and sticking to bedtime routine helps signify to the brain that it is time to sleep. A healthy adult requires at least seven hours of sleep. In your routine, you should set aside at least eight hours of sleep.
Your routine should include going to bed and waking up every day. This should include both weekdays and weekends. A consistent sleep-wake time reinforces the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
You can try some tips for creating a consistent sleep routine like meditation before bed, taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to soft and calming music among others. However, avoid devices with blu light such as smartphones.
5. Use a weighted blanket
Sleep problems related to menopause can be eased with the use of a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets use extra weights in them to exert gentle but firm pressure on the sensory nerves making people less anxious and calmer. The principle behind this pressure by the weighted blankets is known as deep touch pressure stimulation.
Sleep-related problems during menopause such as hot flashes, insomnia, depression, and anxiety can be eased by using a weighted blanket. The cooling weighted blankets will help reduce night sweats and hot flashes experienced during menopause.
What are weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets are similar to the normal blankets but have additional weights that give them their therapeutic function.
The extra weights that are added on the weighted blanket give the distinction between them and normal blankets. Their name comes from the extra weight and it is what has given them their popularity.
Filler materials such as plastic poly pellets and micro glass beads are used to give the weighted blanket additional weight. The weights are fastened into the pockets sewn within the fabric of the weighted blanket making their weight evenly distributed.
Another differentiating factor between the weighted blanket and the normal blanket is their size. The size of the weighted blanket is smaller and fitter than the normal blanket.
The small and fitter size is intentionally designed to fit the body with no loose hanging from the bed. This way, the body gets maximum pressure from the weighted blanket hence optimizing functionality.
What makes weighted blankets a thing is that they induce calm while sleeping. They were initially designed and used by Occupational Therapists to help their patients relax and calm down.
How do weighted blankets work?
Weighted blankets recreate touch which is good for our bodies. The weighted blankets achieve this using the principle of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) stimulation. DTP stimulation feels like a hug and it stimulates the release of oxytocin and serotonin, the feel-good hormone.
The presence of serotonin in the body means the production of melatonin in large quantities. Melatonin calms and soothes the body to sleep, hence famously known as the sleep hormone. Weighted blankets such as gravity blankets are known to increase the production of melatonin and are therefore used for hot flashes on most occasions.
The ‘pressing weight’ or ‘grounding’ of the weighted blanket is also known to inhibit the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, hence allowing more restful sleep.
Why is a weighted blanket good for women in menopause?
A weighted blanket will help women in menopause by easing some of the thorniest symptoms such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, premature waking, and sleep interruption. Some cooling weighted blankets such as the Coolmax weighted blanket can help with menopause hot flashes and night sweats.
Weighted blankets are also good with restless leg syndrome, a condition that may be common with menopause.
It’s worth noting that most of the reasons given as to why a weighted blanket is good for menopause are from the manufacturers themselves. It’s also enhanced by customer reviews on Amazon and manufacturers’ websites. However, these claims have not been proven scientifically.
Therefore, ensure that you try out a weighted blanket and get a personal conviction before you make a purchase decision.
Weighted blanket benefits during menopause
Many women in menopause experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. These menopause symptoms can be eased out by a weighted blanket.
1. Provides calmness
The weighted blanket weight exert pressure on the body using the deep touch pressure (DTP) stimulation. DTP stimulates the production of serotonin which calms and relaxes the body.
2. Reduce anxiety
Anxiety is a common symptom during menopause as women cope with physical and mental changes. Social changes such as retirement and children leaving home can also lead to anxiety.
Weighted blanket through its deep touch pressure stimulation can help calm the body relieving anxiety.
3. Relieve Restless Leg Syndrome
Many people in the menopause stage battle with restless leg syndrome and a weighted blanket is a perfect remedy for this condition.
Weighted blankets exert pressure on the legs keeping them still and more comfortable at night.
What is the best weighted blanket for menopause
There are so many weighted blankets in the market. Most have been tried out while others are still new to the market and there is no proof that they work. However, menopause weighted blankets should be cooling and made from natural materials like cotton. The things that you should keep in mind while choosing the best menopause weighted blanket include:
1. The weighted blanket fabric
Hot flashes or night sweats as symptoms of menopause might necessitate a weighted blanket with cooling fabric. At first, weighted blankets and hot flashes/night sweats might seem like a bad idea. However, Weighting Comforts has Coolmax weighted blanket which is true to its name. The Coolmax weighted blanket is helpful for those with anxiety and insomnia and works magic for those who experience hot flashes.
Another perfect weighted blanket that reviewers like is the Calmforter weighted blanket which has a perfect texture for anxiety relief. Calmforter weighted blanket has two sides to choose from with different feel and temperature regulation properties.
A cooling blanket can be effective for menopause symptoms as it works against most of the sleep-related symptoms.
2. Washability of the weighted blanket
Washing a weighted blanket is not a walk in the park, however, some weighted blankets come with a cover for keeping it clean and making it easy to wash. Ensure that you follow the proper weighted blanket washing instructions as some are not machine/dryer friendly.
3. The filler material used
Before you choose a weighted blanket, consider the filler material used. Consider how the weights are distributed within the blanket and how tight the sewing technology is. Ensure that the weights used do not make noises when you move the weighted blanket as this might distract your sleep.
4. The cost of the weighted blanket
Weighted blankets can be pretty expensive. It can range from $40 to as high as $250. Making the right choice concerning the price is an important thing. However, you should also be cognizant of the fact that investing on a weighted blanket is like investing on your health.
If the price of a weighted blanket still gives you a headache, you can try a DIY weighted blanket.
Weighted Blankets and Hot Flashes
The use of a weighted blanket has so many benefits during menopause, however, it can be a challenge for those who experience hot flashes and night sweats.
Hot flashes and night sweats are a common occurrence to be ignored.
You could be owning a weighted blanket but you notice that it keeps you hot at night. However, when you start experiencing hot flashes and night sweats, it doesn’t mean that you get another cooling weighted blanket. There is something you could do to keep yourself cool as you use your current weighted blanket. This include:
- Turn on a fan throughout the night for the period you experience hot flashes
- Adjust the room temperature down using a thermostat
- Sleep under a weighted blanket only
- Cover the upper part of the body only with a weighted blanket
- Try cooling packs under your weighted blanket
- Make use of the A/C to keep the room temperature lower
- Use cotton pajamas that will easily absorb moisture and sweat
The best cooling weighted blankets for menopause
The above tips for using a weighted blanket with hot flashes work magic. However, manufacturers have invented a cooling technology that is used with weighted blankets. This technology comes in handy for hot sleepers hence a savior to those in menopause.
Three weighted blankets that use the cooling technology are highlighted below.
1. Coolmax Weighted Blanket
Coolmax weighted blanket is one of the customers’ choice for cooling blankets. This handmade weighted blanket is of high quality and uses 35% Coolmax Technology for its fabric and the rest is natural cotton. This makes Coolmax highly durable and comfortable.
Read also: Complete review of Coolmax Weighted Blanket
2. Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blanket
The Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blanket is a perfect choice for hot sleepers and comes with two duvet covers. One duvet cover is warm making it perfect for cold conditions. However, the other duvet cover is made of CoolMax Microfiber Technology allowing heat ventilation from the body hence making it perfect for menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.
Degrees of Comfort weighted blanket gives you the much-needed freedom to enjoy your comfort and can be used throughout the year without worry about temperature changes and keeping it clean.
More on this at the top-rated weighted blankets.
3. YnM Cooling Weighted Blanket
The YnM weighted blanket offers the most attractive design. The blanket is designed with reduced fiber that offers temperature regulation. This weighted blanket keeps your body cool irrespective of the outside temperature making it perfect for hot flashes condition.
You can check out more on this on the best cooling weighted blanket.
Are weighted blankets safe?
Weighted blankets are generally safe. However, you need to pay attention to a few things.
People with breathing issues. People with asthma and COPD should avoid using a weighted blanket. It may be difficult and overwhelming to breath with a heavy object on your chest. Talk with your doctor before you try a weighted blanket.
Kids and children. Children are visibly weak. Whenever they experience any difficulty using a weighted blanket, their reflex action might not be good enough to remove the blanket. Children can use a weighted blanket under an adult’s supervision. They should also be comfortable and it should be the right weight for them.
Adult and the sick. Be careful when using a weighted blanket with an adult. They are visibly weak. Ensure that you monitor them closely and observe how they behave with one. Also, use the right weight for them.
Pets. Don’t allow small pets to craw under the weighted blanket. They might be overwhelmed by the extra weight.
A positive but rather the ‘worst’ danger of the weighted blanket is that you may not be able to get out of bed easily. This is good because it means you sleep more, and get that ever-elusive sleep quality.