Are you feeling the menopause slump too? Sometimes we can barely keep our eyes open! Menopausal fatigue can be emotionally and physically draining, particularly when it is affecting your day to day life. However, there are steps you can take to restore your energy.
Why do I have no energy?
As we enter perimenopause, our hormone levels fluctuate in unpredictable ways. Eventually, the female hormone levels decrease until our bodies stop producing them completely.
The same hormonal changes that cause hot flashes and night sweats can also affect our mood and our energy levels, leading to fatigue. Those hormone variations can also make it harder for you to sleep at night, which can leave you feeling exhausted during the day.
Other reasons for low energy in menopause include:
- Heavy periods – be checked for anaemia if this is a concern
- Thyroid problems
- Too much or too little exercise
- Nutrient deficiency
- Too much caffeine
- Poor diet
Risk factors of fatigue and low energy
You may be in menopause, and yes, your low energy may be due to your fluctuating hormones, but you must also be aware of other potential culprits. All of the following can cause fatigue and must be investigated by a doctor:
- Alcohol and drug use
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Heart disease
- Lack of exercise
- Medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, pain relievers, and heart medicines
- Sleep apnoea and other sleep disorders
- Viral illnesses
- Underactive thyroid gland
See your GP if you have fatigue and low energy just to be sure it’s nothing more sinister than menopause.
How long does menopausal fatigue last?
Fatigue is most noticeable in perimenopause, when hormone fluctuations are in full swing. Unfortunately, this symptom can last for the whole duration of your menopause transition; 8 years plus.
Natural remedies for low energy
Perhaps the most effective yet trickiest way to combat low energy is exercise! It may feel like you have no energy to exercise, but if you are constantly fatigued, your mental health can suffer.
Set aside time for regular exercise. It doesn’t have to be gruelling and forceful; find an exercise you enjoy. You will see your energy levels rise almost immediately.
Exercise can also improve:
- hot flashes
- chronic pain
- quality of life
Going to sleep and waking up the same time daily can help your feel more energised! Try to establish a routine you can stick to – even on the weekends Of course, this may be difficult due to menopause causing significant sleep problems. However, even menopause sleep problems can be improved by routine. Get up at the same time and have a power nap later in the day if you feel exhausted.
What not to eat and drink
- Refined sugar
We use white and brown sugars to sweeten cakes and cookies, coffee, cereal, the list goes on! Be careful about lurking refined sugar; often hiding in foods and drinks such as yogurt, soup, drinks and condiments. These foods can often give you a little spike in energy but leave you feeling sluggish.
- Energy drinks
You may think these are giving you energy, but its more than likely they are stripping you of energy! The high content of caffeine will give you a short temporary boost but will cause a larger crash in the long run. Continually, energy drinks contain other stimulants including large quantities of sugar, sweeteners and salt, all of which are bad for your health and have been shown to disrupt sleep, subsequently causing drowsiness during the day. As if we need any more reasons to be lying awake at night!
A little caffeine can give you an energy boost but too much can cause an energy crash. A small hit of caffeine in the morning can kick-start your energy for the rest of the day. However, try to limit caffeine as it can induce and exacerbate menopause symptoms.
Alcohol disrupts sleep ladies! You may think that alcohol’s sedative properties can help you catch those Z’s but you’re not getting quality, deep sleep which is needed for optimal functioning. Limit that wine and try not to drink before bed.
- Refined carbohydrates
Refined Carbohydrates such as pasta and white bread can cause a rise in blood sugar, followed by a plunge in insulin levels, which can then cause fatigue and weakness. The same goes for processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, ready meals etc. Cutting refined carbohydrates can help you lose weight as well as boost your energy.
What to eat and drink
- Drink more water
- Iron rich foods: Lean cuts of beef, eggs, iron-rich cereals and grains
- Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, fish, walnuts, edamame, kidney beans, seaweed, hemp seeds
- Lots of vegetables and fruit: Bananas, apples, soy Beans, berries, oranges, leafy greens, beets
Cut your portion sizes
Eating a large dinner close to bedtime can leave you feeling too full and uncomfortable to sleep. Heavy meals can also contribute to heartburn; another potential sleep disturbing factor. Cutting your portion sizes and eating more frequently not only improves energy but also helps with:
- Weight loss
- Blood sugar control
- Hormone balancing
- Improved digestion
- Financial benefits when dining out
Smoking is possibly the worst thing you can do for your body in menopause! Toxins in cigarettes will strip you of hormones faster and you will therefore experience menopausal fatigue earlier and for longer than non-smokers. Furthermore, counteractive measures such as those in this list will have less effect on smokers.
Think of yourself as a plant! We need natural sunlight! We are constantly glued to our phones and laptops; these devices emit acritical light that subsequently affects our sleep, mood and circacian rhythm. Get off that phone at get out for a walk!
Stress and anxiety can drain energy! It can also disrupt sleep and further exhaust you. One way to beat stress and anxiety is with meditation. A great way to begin your journey is with an app on your phone, which will guide you through the process. Mindfulness is particularly popular and teaches you to catch negative thoughts in the moment and guide them away. It’s a great tool for a healthy and calm mindset/headspace.
Further stress relief practices include yoga and tai chi, which incorporate meditation and exercise. You may also wish to take up a hobby, talk to friends or family or just take some time for self-care to combat stress; whatever works best for you!
If you are struggling with stress management and self-help techniques are not working, be sure to visit your doctor.
Supplements to improve energy
- Black Cohosh
- CBD Oil
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12