Are you a tad fed up with hearing how important sleep is and you just can’t sleep and get more stressed because of the pressure to get a good night’s sleep!!!
So many of us, especially those who are peri/menopausal or new parents get woken up so many times a night and yet keep hearing how important sleep is. This can be a vicious circle, as you then get stressed that you can’t sleep and go to bed fearful of yet another restless night!!
We hear time and time again about the importance of the routine, not looking at screens before bed or try spraying lavender oil on your pillow. Tried everything, but you still wake or get woken????
Where to start with YOUR sleep
1st – look at what is happening to you with your sleep. Are you being woken many times a night by your little ones? Or are you peri-menopausal and getting woken by your hot sweats or have you got too much on your mind and you wake thinking and planning for things to remember to do??? Find out what is your main reason, if you can, as to why you can’t sleep.
2nd – accept it!! Yes, just accept that you aren’t a good sleeper, you may wake up many times a night but that is just you. This should then take away the stress of feeling the pressure to get a good sleep. Do maybe try and catch up or get a nap when you can or just lie down for 30 minutes (if you can!) to help relax your body.
3rd – take a look at your morning routine. Do you sleep better on some nights than others?? The myth is go to bed earlier to get a better night’s sleep, but this isn’t practical for some. One tip I have now read up on a lot, is actually your morning routine! You may or may not of heard about the circadian rhythm?? By creating a habit of getting out in daylight within the 1st 2 hrs of waking, can actually have a positive effect on your sleep. Can you get yourself out for 20 mins in the morning light?? Try it. Have a read about what exactly it is: https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Documents/fact-sheet-circadian-rhythms.pdf
4th – this is the hardest. If you wake up every night at the same sort of time and PING wide awake, it takes you ages to go back to sleep. This is really hard, but make yourself get up and out of bed. Go into another room and jot down what is going on in your brain, ie your ‘to-do’ list or just read until you feel tired. Then go back to bed. Again, just try it!!
5th – move or exercise more. I don’t know about you, but I definitely sleep better when I have done exercise in the day. It could be running, cycling, swimming but it could also be spending a few hours cleaning or gardening.
I hope one of those may help a little bit. Lets also look at the stages of life and our sleep. The menopausal years are especially a time when we begin to not sleep as well……
Sleep & the Menopause
I went through 2 years of waking at least 4 or 5 times a night in hot sweats, or just waking feeling quite hot and then not being able to get back to sleep. This is SO common in the menopause. The menopause is a time when we have such big changes mentally, physically and hormonally, hence it all creates havoc with our sleep.
These are sudden sensations of heat around our body, especially that feeling or it rising upwards & often with sweats. A woman’s body temperature will rise and blood flow increases to the face which is what often wakes us up! This is actually quite energising because of the increase in adrenaline, hence it is harder to get back to sleep. This can happen a number of times a night, so women then often feel groggy & tired the next day.
It is estimated that between 39 – 47% of menopausal women experience lack of sleep, so you aren’t alone!
The role of Oestrogen & Progesterone
Obviously, as we go into the peri-menopause, our ovaries slow down in producing the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Both of these hormones are involved in bodily processes that affect mood, appetite, sleep, sex drive, and more.
Oestrogen plays a role in the metabolism of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that affect our sleep-wake cycle. Oestrogen also helps keep our body temperature low at night – ahha! So of course, with less oestrogen, women may experience higher body temperatures, lower quality sleep, and poorer mood.
What can menopausal women do?
Rightio – there are natural remedies, certain foods with phytoestrogens or HRT. This is something YOU need to look into. It is a choice and it is up to YOU which form you want to try to see if something can help with your flushes and sleep.
These are plant based foods which are similar to oestrogen. Tofu, soy, linseeds/flaxseeds, beans & peas are examples. Phytoestrogens like the ones found in soy are also available in over-the-counter supplements like sage, ginseng, black Cohosh or red clover – but always check that these are ok for you, as they do not suit everyone and are not advised to be taken for long periods of time.
HRT – body Identical hormones
There has been so much about HRT over the years, so I always say DO YOUR RESEARCH. I would never tell anyone to take HRT but you need to understand where all the scares came from and also weigh up the positives and negatives with regards to your sleep, hot sweats etc. I do know it can help massively as it is just replacing the hormones we have suddenly started to lose. If you can, always opt for the body identical hormones – oestrogen in the form of a gel or patch and the Micronised progesterone.