What causes fatigue during menopause?
While there are several factors that contribute to menopause fatigue, the main cause is due to fluctuating hormones. (2). The changes and fluctuation to these hormones can also have an effect on the adrenal and thyroid hormones, which are responsible for regulating energy in the body (4). If these hormones are imbalanced, this can cause a person to feel fatigued.
Hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia are also commonly experienced symptoms for many women during menopause which can impact sleep quality, and contribute to menopause fatigue (4).
Why do women experience weight gain after menopause?
While every woman’s experience is different, it is quite common to experience menopause fatigue on and off throughout all stages of the menopausal transition, which can last 8 years or more. On average, menopausal transitions last for 7-8 years but some go on for as long as 14 years (2).
If menopause and tiredness is having a significant impact on your physical and mental health, it’s important to visit your GP. This way, they can determine if there are any other factors or health conditions impacting your energy levels such as low iron, or hypothyroidism for example, or whether it’s in fact driven by hormonal changes through menopause.
How can I boost my energy during menopause?
If you’re suffering from menopause fatigue, here are some practical tips you can try to boost your energy levels:
Improve your sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene can be one of the most helpful things to combat menopause fatigue. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, having a cool environment when sleeping, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime can be helpful to ensuring a good night’s sleep.
It also may be helpful to have a nighttime routine to help you wind down before sleep. This could include taking a warm bath or shower, turning your phone or smart devices off or on silent close to bed, and avoiding watching TV in bed (5).
Exercising regularly is another great way to overcome menopause fatigue. Start by finding an exercise you enjoy such as walking, yoga, swimming or anything. Why? Because doing something you enjoy means you’re likely to be consistent with it. If you’re not a morning person, and struggle to roll out of bed in the mornings, try the afternoons, or even make some time in your lunch break. If you are finding you are not enjoying a particular activity, try something else, as the post exercise endorphins are worth the effort (5).
Avoid spicy foods
Avoid eating spicy foods, especially before bed time as this may trigger hot flushes and cause discomfort such as heartburn, which in turn may reduce sleep quality (6).
Try smaller, more frequent meals
Try to eat 5-6 small meals a day and aim to eat every 3-4 hours (5). This could improve menopause and tiredness, as it will help to spread your energy more evenly across the day. Think of food as fuel. It’s like a campfire which needs just the right amount of kindling and logs to keep the fire going. It is exactly the same with humans and food. If we don’t have enough in frequent intervals, our fire will run low just like our energy levels.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant which can lead to low amounts of energy during the day. This is because caffeine blocks the receptors in our brain which make us feel tired, but once the caffeine effects wear off these receptors kick back in and can cause sleepiness (7). Similarly, alcohol has been shown to impact sleep quality, which can leave you feeling sluggish and contribute to menopause fatigue the day after. (4).
Include soy rich foods
According to research, some people may benefit from soy-rich foods. This is because these foods contain a chemical known as isoflavones, which gives the same benefit that estrogen has on your body. Soy products include soy milk, tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts and sprouts (4,6). Here are 3 simple ways you can add more soy to your day:
Try a soy milk coffee, or adding some to a smoothie or bowl of oats
Snack on edamame beans as protein rich snack
Add firm tofu to your next stir fry or soup
Take home message
While menopause fatigue can be challenging both physically and mentally, there are many lifestyle measures you can try to overcome this symptom of menopause including, improving sleep hygiene, engaging in regular exercise, avoiding spicy foods, eating smaller, more frequent meals, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and eating more soy rich foods (4-6).
Seeking individualised support from an Accredited Practising Dietitian can be a great way to support menopause symptoms you may be experiencing to improve your overall health. Book your free assessment to learn more about our Mastering Menopause program and to speak to one of our friendly staff today.