Fatigue

Hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness are common symptoms of menopause. Fatigue can also be an issue during the transitional time when your menstrual periods stop and fertility ends. When that fatigue is constant and severe, it can affect your quality of life. However, you can take steps to restore your energy.

Tips to beat fatigue

Follow these five tips to beat fatigue:

1. Make time for regular exercise

It can be hard to drag yourself out of bed when you’re exhausted, but exercise is one of the best solutions for fatigue. A 2015 study of postmenopausal women found moderate- to high-intensity exercise is associated with higher energy levels.

According to another study, exercise can improve:

  • hot flashes
  • weight
  • mood
  • chronic pain
  • quality of life

Look for activities that are enjoyable and manageable. For example, you can take a short walk during your lunch break or join a yoga class. The important thing is to find something that you can regularly enjoy. If you pick an activity that you don’t enjoy or can’t find the time to do regularly, try something else. You’re more likely to turn exercise into a habit if you enjoy it.

2. Develop a good sleep routine

A good sleep routine can leave you feeling more energized. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on the weekends. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.

You may want to establish a nighttime routine to help set the mood for sleep. Take a warm shower or a bath, and avoid using smartphones and computers close to bedtime. It’s also good practice to only use your bed for sleeping. Avoid reading, watching television, or using your smartphone while in bed.

3. Take a meditation break

Stress can sap your energy and interrupt your sleep. One way to beat stress is meditation. To practice one of the most popular forms, mindfulness meditation, sit in a quiet place and close your eyes. Slowly breathe in and out, clearing your mind while focusing on your breath. When negative thoughts try to enter your mind, steer them gently back out.

If you have trouble sitting still, try yoga or tai chi, which combine exercise with meditation to harness the benefits of both practices.

4. Turn down the thermostat at night

The last thing you need is an overheated bedroom when you’re already dealing with hot flashes and night sweats from menopause. Keeping your bedroom cool accommodates your body’s natural temperature fluctuations during the night. Experts say the ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep is around 65˚F (18˚C).

5. Downsize your meals

Eating a big dinner too close to bedtime can leave you feeling too full to sleep. Heavy meals also contribute to heartburn, which can also interrupt your sleep. Eating smaller portions of healthier foods is a good choice no matter what stage of life you’re in.

Understanding perimenopause and menopause

Perimenopause refers to the time of transitional before menopause begins. Your periods may become irregular, and your flow may become heavier or lighter.

Production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone usually begins to slow when a woman reaches her 40s. That happens as a woman enters the perimenopausal period. The full transition to menopause can take 4 to 12 years.

Menopause is the time of life when your periods stop, estrogen and progesterone production ends, and you can no longer become pregnant.

During perimenopause, you might start experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, and fatigue. You’ll officially be in menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months.

Other symptoms

Fatigue can be one sign that you’re in a menopause transition. Here are a few of the other symptoms that are common during perimenopause:

  • hot flashes
  • irregular periods
  • mood changes, such as feeling sad or more irritable than usual
  • night sweats
  • trouble sleeping
  • vaginal dryness
  • weight gain

Talk to your doctor if these symptoms or any others bother you. You can work together to find the best treatment options for your symptoms.

Why is fatigue a common symptom of menopause?

As you enter the perimenopausal period, your hormone levels rise and fall in unpredictable ways. Eventually, your female hormone levels will decrease until your body stops making them completely.

The same hormonal changes that cause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats can also affect your mood and energy levels, leading to fatigue. Those hormone variations can also make it harder for you to sleep at night, which can leave you feeling tired during the day.

Risk factors for fatigue

Even if you’re in your 40s or 50s, fatigue isn’t necessarily due to perimenopause or menopause. All of the following can cause fatigue:

  • alcohol and drug use
  • anemia
  • cancer
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • a lack of exercise
  • medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, pain relievers, and heart medicines
  • obesity
  • poor diet
  • sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
  • stress
  • viral illnesses
  • underactive thyroid gland

See your doctor for a checkup if you have fatigue.

What is the outlook?

When you’re in the menopause transition, the symptoms may seem challenging. Lifestyle changes can help. Talk to your doctor about current treatment options for fatigue and other symptoms.