If you think you might be heading towards the menopause and struggling to sleep, it could be your hormones are responsible. Every woman experiences different symptoms at different times. Don’t assume your restless legs or night sweats can’t be related to the menopause just because you’ve no other symptoms.
Some women report menopause sleep problems because of hot flushes. At night these hot flushes, which are sensations of heat in the upper body, can leave you sweating. They can even result in anxiety and heart palpitations. Some women get these night sweats badly and are woken every night, leading to chronic insomnia.
As you get older, your body starts to produce less oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and even melatonin. If you already have problems sleeping, then you could be more prone to issues during perimenopause and into the menopause. Oestrogen levels can directly affect how well you sleep. As the level falls, your body can’t regulate its temperature so well, creating hot flushes. In addition, just after a hot flush, medical experts have found that cortisol levels can rise. Cortisol is a hormone known as our ‘fight or flight’ signaller. It can leave you feeling anxious or stressed. That makes it harder to fall back asleep.
1. Wear cool, loose clothes. Consider not using a duvet, but having layers on that you can kick off to regulate your body temperature.
2. Keep your bedroom cool, turn off heating and make sure the room is well ventilated.
3. If your hot flushes are particularly bad and you share a bed with your partner, consider sleeping alone, if possible, for your comfort and theirs!
4. Create a proper bedtime routine. This should involve relaxing before bed, not looking at any electronic screens, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
5. As part of your bedtime routine, have a caffeine-free bedtime drink to relax and comfort you. Sleep Well milk is a natural sleep aid containing Valerian root which has been helping people get a good night’s sleep for nearly 2,000 years. It also tastes good, even coming in chocolate flavour. Plus, it contains honey, nature’s own blend of fructose and glucose. This is much better for you than white sugar or artificial sweeteners you find in some other night time drinks.
6. When you get to bed, listen to some relaxing music, an audio book, or a relaxation soundtrack.
7. If you are woken in the night by a hot flush or night sweat, allow your body to cool down. Sometimes you might find you need to get up to cool the mattress and pillow. Try to do as little as possible so as not to stimulate yourself awake and try to keep the lights off.
8. You could try mindfulness or meditation. A simple technique is to imagine your own secret haven away from any stress, such as a walled garden or deserted beach. Take your mind there when you are feeling anxious and walk around it. Concentrate on hearing the sounds and looking at the scenery, with your eyes closed. Breathe slowly and deeply to help you relax and fall back to sleep.
9. If you are overweight or don’t exercise, start a gentle exercise regime such as walking. You will be surprised how quickly your fitness can improve even if you just choose stairs over lifts.
Don’t be afraid to get help. Talk to your doctor about both natural solutions or discuss hormone replacement therapy which can ease the symptoms of the menopause and have other benefits.
If your doctor isn’t trained in this area, then look for a second opinion. Depending on where you live, there are now specialist menopause and hormone clinics available.
The menopause isn’t something to be ashamed of. Many celebrities have spoken out about their struggles with the menopause and its impact on their sleep. Every woman will go through this change in hormones at some point and to varying degrees of severity. Talk to your friends and you’ll find most of them eager to share their experiences.
Sleeping disorders are debilitating. A good night’s sleep is essential for our physical and mental health so make sure you are getting your sleep, no matter what age you are. At Sleep Well we are passionate about it.
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