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Menopause Health Center

Your Brain on Menopause

Hormone surges and dips throughout menopause affect your brain as well as the rest of your body. Here's what happens and why, and how to cope.
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Menopausal Mood Swings: What to Do continued...

Another important suggestion: Whenever you do have an emotional upset, such as feeling very angry, step back, take a deep breath, and let a little time pass before you act on your dancing emotions. Chances are, when the mood swing passes -- as it always does -- you might not have the need to lash out at someone who probably doesn't deserve it.

At the same time, if the mood passes and you still feel the same way, then by all means do what you must to clear the air. While many problems can temporarily seem bigger than they are during this time of life, real problems can also occur. But taking a little time between action and reaction may be all you need to know the difference.

Sleep Your Way to Happier Menopause

While hormones influence your mood and your temper, what can make everything seem worse is a lack of sleep. And if getting a good night's rest seems to be getting harder during this time of life, you're not alone.

A study published in the journal Menopause in 2001 observed that "insomnia is a frequently reported complaint in menopausal women."

The reason: You may be sleeping - or wanting to sleep -- but your estrogen levels are still up dancing all night long. And that continual action can interrupt healthy sleep.

This, in turn, reduces both the quantity and quality of your sleep, and when that happens hormones can go further off kilter, filling your waking hours with even more symptoms, particularly emotion-based problems.

But there are ways to induce better midlife sleep and in doing so help control some menopause symptoms. According to natural health expert Susan Lark, MD, herb teas of valerian root taken 45 minutes before bedtime might induce a deeper and more restful sleep. Passionflower or chamomile tea may have a similar effect, she says.

What you should avoid: Hot and spicy foods, as well as caffeine, at least several hours before bedtime. They may keep you awake and increase hot flashes, even in your sleep.

And relaxation can also have a positive effect on sleep. Cornell University sleep expert Samuel Dunkell, MD, says that taking 20 to 30 minutes to engage in a particularly relaxing activity right before going to bed may help you fall into a deeper sleep faster -- and that means more and better quality rest can be yours.

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