Menopause and Sleeping: Unraveling the Mystery of Restful NightsJun 29, 2023
Menopause and Sleeping - the two often aren't happy bedfellows!
Sleep disruptions are a common complaint during perimenopause and menopause. It's partly to do with hormones but there are some simple lifestyle things that you can tweak to sleep better tonight!
As estrogen and progesterone levels decline, women often find it challenging to achieve restful nights. Coupled with increased stress and various lifestyle factors, it can feel like a perfect storm affecting sleep quality. In this blog post, we will explore why sleep is affected during menopause and provide practical tips to improve sleep hygiene and overall well-being.
1. Set the Stage for Sleep: put yourself to bed like a toddler!
Remember those days of bath, story and bed? Well that's what works ( most of the time) for our toddlers and it can work for us too. Think about ways you can create a calm environment for yourself. Minimize exposure to stimulating activities before bedtime - no Terminator films, and transition to a soothing ambiance. Dim the lights, reduce noise, and engage in relaxing activities like reading or lighting candles. Many find the scent of lavender or other calming aromas beneficial for inducing sleep and you might like to have a milky drink, turmeric tea, or camomile tea.
2. Reconsider Alcohol Intake: don't fall into the trap of Wine O'Clock!
While a glass of wine may help you unwind, alcohol can disrupt hormone balance and exacerbate night sweats and anxiety. That doesn't mean alcohol is out of the question, it just means that you are a bit more mindful about what, and when you choose to drink. If you choose to drink, consider moderating the amount or adjusting the timing, you may find that a drink at lunchtime on your days off, doesn't affect your sleep that night. Diluting alcoholic beverages with water or opting for a non-alcoholic alternative can also be helpful in reducing its impact on sleep quality, but be wary of very highly sugary drinks which tout themselves as 'healthy'!
3. Prioritize Exercise and Movement: Motion is Lotion
Physical activity plays a vital role in preparing your body for quality sleep. In our sedentary lifestyles, long days stuck behind a laptop, it's crucial to incorporate regular exercise to signal your body that it's time to rest. My advice is to include three different types of exercise for optimum health, you can find out more about the three here. If you do nothing else, aim for outdoor walks in natural light, preferably before noon. This exposure to light early in the day can positively influence your sleep-wake cycle.
4. Explore Bedtime Rituals: develop good sleep habits
Emulating the bedtime routine of a child can be surprisingly effective but that includes trying to establish some 'device free' time before bed. And as much as you want to be helpful to all those people who rely on you, try to create boundaries by setting cutoff times for emails or notifications.
5. Optimize Sleep Environment: the bedroom should be for sleep and sex!
Maintain a comfortable sleep environment by adjusting the temperature, bedding, and noise levels. If you experience night sweats or prefer different temperature settings than your partner, consider separate bedding options. Ensure the room is cool, and if necessary, use fans or air conditioning to regulate temperature. Earplugs or white noise machines can help block out disruptive sounds and promote deeper sleep.
6. Consider Supplements and Dietary Adjustments: Add some, remove others!
Magnesium supplements have shown promise in promoting relaxation and aiding sleep. They can be taken orally, applied topically, or incorporated into an Epsom salt bath. Avoid spicy foods and alcohol close to bedtime, as they may trigger hot flashes and disrupt sleep. Experiment with dietary changes to identify potential triggers and adjust accordingly.
7. Explore Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT):
Consult with your healthcare professional about the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy. Topical estrogen applications can provide relief from night sweats and hot flashes without systemic effects. Local estrogen applied to the vulva and surrounding tissues may help alleviate bladder issues, providing a more restful night's sleep.
8. Indulge in Sleep-Boosting Foods: they may just work!!
Certain foods can contribute to better sleep. A delicious combination to try is a bowl of natural live yogurt topped with chopped kiwi fruit and pistachio nuts. While research supporting their sleep-inducing properties is limited, this tasty treat may help improve your sleep quality.