Part 3: Navigating the Stormy Weather of Menopause

Part III: Sleep Disruption

Like so many women in the prime of their lives, Cheryl Miller was too busy with life’s responsibilities to pay attention to perimenopause’s first signals.

Perimenopause literally means the time “around” menopause and is a term used to describe the beginning of the estrogen decline leading to menopause. However, many women use the term “perimenopause” to describe the time when they first begin to notice menopausal symptoms.

With the help of Heather Pugmire, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) at the Bingham Memorial Women’s Center, it’s time to decode the signals of perimenopause—that transitional phase before periods end for good. Understand the symptoms and practical strategies for surviving sleepless nights.


Signal: Starry night sky with a slight chance of sleep.

Storm advisory: Cheryl can never forget her sleepless nights. “During the warring part of menopause, I had horrendous insomnia, for which I took Ambien, a prescription sleep aid, for about three years because I just couldn’t sleep at all,” Cheryl recalls.

How to weather it: Some women experience menopause-related sleep disturbances, especially if hormone changes provoke hot flashes (or “night sweats”) during the night.

To get more adequate shut-eye, women should first focus on improving their evening routines, including avoiding heavy meals and adjusting levels of light, noise and temperature.

“As people get older, having caffeine and chocolate, especially dark chocolate, may be a stimulant that prevents falling asleep easily, so they should be avoided after late afternoon,” Dr. Pugmire recommends.

To minimize night sweats, she suggests avoiding comforters that trap heat and opting instead for lightly woven bed linens that breathe. Also, keep the air circulating in your bedroom by setting an overhead fan on low.

Part 1 – Irregular Periods

Part 2 – Hot Flashes

Part 4 – Mood Swings

Part 5 – Sunny Skies Ahead

About Heather Pubmire, MD

Dr. Pugmire is an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) at the Bingham Memorial Women’s Center. As an OB/GYN, Dr. Pugmire is qualified to care for all of women’s healthcare needs. She also understands the challenges facing today’s women, and encourages patients to be open with her so she can provide the best care for them.Dr. Pugmire is always welcoming new patients, and to schedule a consultation, please call 782-3900.

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