Fatigue and Menopause

One of the more common symptoms of the menopause is a persistent on-going feeling of exhaustion and fatigue - mental and physical. This article looks at the causes of fatigue and provides you with 8 tips to combat fatigue.

Fatigue can make concentration difficult.

Fatigue can make concentration difficult.

Menopause fatigue can be mental and physical

During menopause and perimenopause many women may experience an on-going and persistent lack of energy and feelings of tiredness and weakness. You may be surprised to find yourself feeling exhausted in a way that is unexplainable. The signs of menopausal fatigue include decreased wakefulness, lowered attention span, mental fuzziness, irritability and memory lapses. You may find that you are lacking your usual zest for life.

Can a change in hormones cause menopausal fatigue?

The main cause of menopausal fatigue is the change in hormone levels. Oestrogen, progesterone, thyroid and adrenal hormones are all involved in regulating cellular energy in the body which when compromised can lead to fatigue.

Physical menopausal symptoms like night sweats and insomnia contribute to fatigue. Many women find themselves suffering from a chronic lack of sleep and this is a contributory factor in fatigue during the day. Fatigue exacerbates menopausal symptoms such as anxiety, poor concentration, and a lack of confidence. You can easily find yourself in a spiralling, vicious circle.

Breaking the cycle of fatigue - 8 Tips

Breaking this cycle and getting better sleep will help reduce your feelings of fatigue.

1. Take a power nap 

Many women find it very helpful to have a short 20 minutes nap during the day to reduce fatigue. If you work in an office, and if it is possible, find a quiet place during your lunch break and close your eyes. A power nap is an essential tool to revitalize our bodies and mind.

2. Relax at your desk

If this is not possible for you, find a way to relax. If, for example, you're at a desk all day, carry out a regular breathing exercise.  Close your eyes, breathe in deeply and slowly to the count of 4, and then breathe out slowly to the count of 6. Do this 10 times each hour. Each exercise will only take 15 seconds, but the impact will be huge. Put a yellow sticky note on your computer to remind yourself. Your colleagues will notice the new, revitalised you!

3. Fresh air

Make sure to get out into the fresh air at lunchtime and during other breaks - hail, rain or shine.

4. Find a technique that you like

Consider taking up mindfulness, Feldenkrais or yoga. These practices can help rest the mind, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and produce feelings of deep relaxation which can be drawn on during busy or stressful times.

5. Keep a diary

Keep a diary or journal to log your thoughts and emotions. You may have a lot of different changes going on in your life (physical, mental and emotional) and it can be very helpful to write to yourself about them as a way of getting perspective and charting change.

6. Use herbal or nutritional support

Many women find Siberian Ginseng or Adrenal Support help to give them more energy and aid in rebalancing hormones. Magnesium can help sleep - either take a supplement or use a spray oil before going to bed. It's best to consult an expert nutritionist or herbalist who can advise on your needs and potential deficiences at midlife. Many of us are depleted by the time we get to our late 40s having run ourselves ragged in our 30s and 40s - often despite having a very good diet. Avoid caffeine as much as possible - especially after lunch. Chamomile tea or other herbal teas of your choice are a great alternative.

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7. Don’t over-exercise

Fatigue can be greatly helped by doing gentle exercise but you can increase fatigue by over-exercising. Regular gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming, cycling and dancing, can be very beneficial during the menopause to balance a wide range of symptoms, but remember - over-exercise can be counter-productive.

In addition to changing hormone levels and poor sleep patterns, menopausal fatigue can be caused by factors such as low iron levels, stress, too much work, food allergies, and other nutritional deficiencies. Our adrenal system is working hard to rebalance hormones during menopause, therefore it is important not to put your adrenal glands under additional pressure. So try to reduce stress, and cut down on stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and cigarettes.

8. A relaxing bedtime routine

Try to get into a positive, relaxing, and regular routine in the evening. Make sure not to over-stimulate your brain before going to bed. Wind down gently for at least an hour. Try not to work at the computer or watch TV in bed. Rather - perform some relaxing stretches, or have a candlelit lavender bath!

Have your evening meal at least four hours before going to bed. Avoid coffee, alcohol, and other stimulants during the evenings. Replace them with calming herbal tea such as chamomile tea. Have a look in your health food shop for a wide range of relaxing and sleepy time herbal tea blends and find one that you like. It is beneficial to drink these teas in the afternoon as well as the evening.

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