7 Ways to improve your sleep during menopause
After a certain age, women must face the uncomfortable truth of menopause. Though a natural part of life, menopause and the years leading up to it can leave women with some unpleasant symptoms. Unfortunately, one of these symptoms is sleep disturbance.
Whether it’s down to hot flashes or anxiety, according to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 61% of menopausal women experience sleepless nights as they go through this changing time in their life.
For the human body, sleep is a chance to repair; but when that precious time is disturbed, it can lead to problems in your waking hours. We understand how stressful it can be, so we have prepared 7 helpful tips to help you on the way to a peaceful night’s sleep.
Stay on schedule
We understand, sometimes life happens, and schedules fall by the wayside, but a consistent night-time schedule is conducive to a good night’s sleep.
Resist the urge to stay up late. Go to bed at a similar time every evening and set an alarm to wake you up at the same time every morning. This helps give your body a sense of routine and structure.
On average, the human body needs around 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to fully repair itself. Without structure, you may find it difficult to switch off, which could leave you feeling irritable and a little out of sorts the next day.
If you are an avid believer in afternoon naps, try taking it before 3 pm so it doesn’t interfere with your schedule and keep you wired past lights out.
Exercise and the Great Outdoors
Regular exercise is an absolute must for everyone to keep the body and mind healthy. Just 30 minutes each day is enough to lift your mood by creating happy hormones such as endorphins, keep your cardiovascular system healthy, and improve your sleep.
Studies show that women who lead a more active lifestyle during menopause experience significant improvements in sleep and find it much easier to fall asleep.
If you love the great outdoors, try combining it with exercise by taking a brisk walk every day. This will keep your cardiovascular system healthy, keep your muscles active, and in turn lead you to a restful night’s sleep.
Pay attention to your clothing
Night sweats are unfortunately very common, and an unpleasant side effect for around 70% of menopausal women. The good news is, by paying attention to your nightwear and fabrics, you can help the intensity of night sweats and enjoy a more comfortable night’s sleep.
For nightclothes, opt for lightweight, comfortable, sweat-wicking fabrics that quickly dry such as bamboo jersey. Alternatively, there are cooling nightdresses on the market that are specifically designed for night sweats.
In terms of fabrics, natural fibres can feel nice against the skin, but fabrics made of silk and cotton can retain moisture and make you feel hotter, so best to avoid. Some people find they prefer 100% cotton, others sway more towards bamboo or poly-cotton blends. Really, it all comes down to personal preference, so it’s worth experimenting and seeing what works for you.
Keep it cool
This goes without saying but try to keep your bedroom well ventilated and cool. Try opening the window at night, keeping your curtains closed. This will help to keep fresh air circulating around your bedroom and keep the sun from disturbing you when it comes up.
You could also experiment with fans. Some people find it difficult to sleep with a fan because of the noise, or constant air blowing on them. If you don’t mind a fan, you could try pointing one out of the window, this will help to blow warm air out of your bedroom.
Watch what you eat
Bad news for avid coffee drinkers, but what you eat and drink during the day can play a big part in how you sleep.
You should avoid drinking too much coffee, and other caffeinated beverages during the day, and avoid completely after 6 pm. As caffeine is a stimulant, it wakes you up and causes you to feel more alert – not ideal for bedtime. Try opting for a soothing herbal tea, such as camomile before bed to help you relax.
You should also avoid spicy foods. We all enjoy a good curry from time to time but try to keep it mild. Spicy food raises your body temperature and triggers sweating, flushing, and other symptoms of hot flashes.
Try opting for a whole foods diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. These foods keep your body healthy and have been linked to alleviating some side effects of menopause.
Studies have shown that dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are high in amino acid glycine which can help you sleep.
If it’s the anxiety caused by hormonal fluctuations that are keeping you wired at night, try adding a relaxation technique to your routine and setting the stage for sleep.
You could try meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or simply reading a good book to unwind. You should avoid using your mobile phone, or computer around one hour before bed, and keep technology out of the bedroom.
If hot flashes aren’t a problem for you, you could try taking a cool soak in the bath with some lavender oil.
See a specialist
Chronic insomnia can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions. It also impacts your daily tasks and overall life quality. Fortunately, you don’t have to just lie back and suffer, speak to your doctor about medication to help you.
You could consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy which is a treatment specifically tailored around you and your individual needs. It replenishes the exact hormones that you are deficient in to alleviate the unpleasant side effects of menopause and restore the body to optimum performance.