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menopause and nightmares

By | Fact Checked |

Are you in perimenopause or menopause and have been experiencing nightmares or more frequent nightmares? This is a symptom some women report, and it may be disruptive or disturbing. What’s the story behind the occurrence of nightmares in menopause?

What are nightmares?

Nightmares are scary, terrifying, or otherwise troubling dreams. People who have a nightmare can often remember details about the dream when they wake up. People who have night terrors, however, remain asleep during the event and usually don’t remember anything about their sleep terrors.  

Read about menopause and sleep problems

How are nightmares associated with menopause?

Is there a direct line between hormone changes and nightmares in menopause? Well, it’s not so straight, but there is a relationship between the two, and here it is. 

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Perimenopause and menopause are stressful times, and for some women their stress and anxiety levels can be quite significant. Fluctuating hormones can be behind these elevated emotional feelings, and they can heighten worries about health, work, relationships, family, social responsibilities, finances, and the world in general. These augmented feelings filter into your dreams and can result in nightmares. 

You may find that you wake up from nightmares with a pounding heart and for a brief moment, you may feel disoriented. If you experience an adrenaline rush from your nightmare, there’s a chance you will also have night sweats. 

Other possible causes of nightmares include eating near bedtime, use of certain medications (e.g., some blood pressure meds, beta-blockers, antidepressants, and drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease), alcohol use or withdrawal, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, and exposure to scary/horror movies and reading materials.

Read about menopause and night sweats

How to manage nightmares naturally

To manage nightmares successfully, it’s critical to address your stress and anxiety, as they are the seeds of nightmares. Stress management, along with a few other tips that can help create a better sleep environment, may help you ward off nightmares in menopause.

  • Start early: Preventing nightmares begins early in the morning. Start each day with a relaxing or centering activity, such as journaling, meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. 
  • Relax throughout the day: Effective stress management involves addressing stress when it occurs or as soon as possible. Repeat any of the stress-reducing activities from the morning or find others, such as taking a short brisk walk, tai chi, enjoying a cup of chamomile tea, or taking a brief nap. 
  • Prepare for bedtime: Avoid exposure to blue light for at least one hour before bedtime. Engage in calming activities, such as reading something light or soothing, having a cup of chamomile tea, taking a warm shower, meditation, guided visualization, or deep breathing. 
  • Take magnesium: This mineral has an ability to balance neurotransmitters in the brain and support calm and relaxation. It also has an effect on melatonin, a hormone involved in sleep. In fact, magnesium can regulate production of melatonin and thus promote sleep. 
  • Consider an herbal remedy: Herbal supplements that may assist in providing restful sleep and preventing nightmares include bay laurel, chamomile, juniper, lavender, and thyme. Try any of these dried in a dream/sleep pillow or as an essential oil in a diffuser in your bedroom. 
  • Try a natural sleep supplement: Morphus Sleepus has ingredients to support sleep like magnesium, Lactium, L-Theanine, and Melatonin.

When to call your doctor

If your nightmares and anxiety have become life-altering, it’s time to contact your healthcare provider. You may need to meet with a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you work out the stress and emotional feelings associated with your nightmares. 

Bottom line

Nightmares in perimenopause and menopause are typically a response to unmanaged stress, anxiety, and other high emotions during this transitional time of life. These occurrences may be managed naturally by focusing on the root causes of your stress. 

Andrea is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) & Menopause Expert. Andrea is in menopause & has been researching for the last 5 years science-based ingredients and methods to help women manage their symptoms. She’s the Founder of—a multiple award-winning website. Andrea co-authored the book “Unjunk Your Junk Food” published by Simon and Schuster, as well as “Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart,” and “Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.” Andrea co-hosts the Morphus for Menopause podcast and appears as a Healthy Living Expert on TV across North America. Andrea has more than 20 years of experience in the health & wellness space and is a multiple award-winning Influencer.