As we all know, sleep is critical for optimal health and well-being. My good friend, Emily, reached out to me feeling stressed, overwhelmed and drained. Complaining of not having a good night’s sleep in what seemed to her like years. She is also in the process of going through menopause which means, hormonal fluctuations causing a decrease of progesterone and estrogen; plus, feelings of stress and overwhelm. Take all of the above, mix them together and that definitely leads to a disrupted night’s sleep. Over time it could turn into low self-esteem, headaches, irritability, fatigue. If left, could possibly lead to a huge assortment of potential health issues.
According to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics, more than one in four middle-aged women experience difficulty falling and staying asleep. More than one in three women reported getting fewer than seven hours of sleep per night. One in two women did not wake up feeling rested at least four times or more per week. 87% of women in general suffer from a regular lack of sleep.
Emily told me that she’d wanted an alternative approach to managing her menopausal symptoms. She had started working closely with her health care provider and began to look at phytoestrogens in over the counter nutritional products. Those such as black cohosh, extract of red clover and ginseng, which may help to lessen hot flashes. Emily also wants to try Bioidentical hormones which she feels would be a more natural way for her to go.
Bioidentical hormone therapy is often called “natural” because bioidenticals act in the body just like the hormones we produce. They are synthesized from plant chemicals extracted from yams and soy. Studies have shown that they can help relieve hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Please note when using Bioidentical’s, it is important to work with a women’s specialist in menopausal health.
Here are a few tips we planned to help for a better night’s sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time and have a sleep ritual just like you did when you were a kid. That way you help to tell the body and mind that it’s time for sleep,
- Decrease stimulation as much as possible nearer to bed time and start to mentally wind down. That means no electronics, TV, iPad, phone or laptop. They stimulate your brain!
- Take a nice warm relaxing bath. It adjusts your body temperature it helps you to fall asleep faster. When you come out of a warm bathroom into a cooler bedroom your body temperature will drop and that signals your body that it is time to rest.
- Find a good book to read as it can relax you significantly. When you’re reading a good book, your mind is distracted from the daily stress and worry that causes tension. It allows you to calm down and begin to relax.
- Let go of fearful thoughts, do a brain dump, write out anything that bothering you. Keep a journal next to the side of your bed so if you wake you can write that thought down, you can make a decision. Knowing that you can always change your mind in the morning.
- Wear loose fitting pajamas or nothing at all. Crack the window open to keep your bedroom cool and well ventilated. Turn down the thermostat.
- Block the light out of your bedroom, keep it as dark as possible in order to help get a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid caffeine or alcohol within three hours of bedtime, it can become a stimulant.
Do you know that some foods promote sleep? Here are just a few.
- walnuts are good to eat before bed as they cause the brain to secrete melatonin which may help anyone struggling with sleeplessness?
- Almonds are good as they contain a sleep enhancing amino acid called tryptophan and they also contain magnesium which helps to relax muscles.
- Whole wheat crackers and peanut butter for a mix of complex carbs and protein with tryptophan.
- Eating a low-fat cheese stick at least an hour before you go to bed supplies tryptophan.
- Drink two glasses of tart cherry juice every day. Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Going over relaxation techniques.
Meditation is a safe an effective way to slow down the chatter. I offered a relaxing guided meditation that Emily could listen to when in bed. I also took her through the steps of a great breathing exercise which can be done while lying in bed. It helps bring more oxygen to the brain and in return promotes a good night’s sleep.
We talked about her exercise routine. Exercise boosts your immune system; it also keeps you being productive and can help you to sleep better at night. However, try not to exercise to close to bedtime as it can be stimulating. Avoid eating big meals within two to three hours of bedtime.
The key to taking away the anxiety of waking up in the middle of the night, is keeping your mind relaxed before you go to sleep.
Should you wake up during the night, please don’t reach for your phone or iPad, no electronics.
However, this is a good time to listen to a guided meditation, a history podcast or an audio novel, something that’s not too exciting and could help you to drift back to sleep.
- With a dim light read a book.
- Focus on your breath, it also helps to calm your nervous system and shifts your thoughts.
- Try, counting sheep jumping over a fence or wall.
As Emily and I worked together we came up with strategies that helped her to manage any stress and overwhelm. We looked at what was going on in Emily’s life right now that could be causing any of these unwanted emotions. Which as we know, if not dealt with they too can create a vicious cycle of sleepless nights. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than lying awake in bed with a busy mind. Tossing and turning while those worrying thoughts keep going around and around in your head and won’t quiet down or go away.
There are many ways to get through menopause. I believe that with some help, guidance, and support you can achieve all of your menopausal goals. When I went through menopause I chose to reach out and I breezed on through it. Emily reached out too, and found the support she needed. Now, she is feeling much more relaxed with her progress and is ready for any change. If you need help then let’s have a chat. I’d love to help!
“The night is the hardest time to be alive and 4am knows all my secrets.”
~ Poppy Z. Brite
Diane Morgan works with women who are overwhelmed and torn by the aging process and have a hard time finding themselves and their place in life during and beyond midlife. She is the creator of a powerful transformational program Awaken Your Beauty Inside Out: Fall In Love With The Skin You’re In. This phenomenal program capitalizes on her 20 plus years of experience in the beauty industry and her expertise as a certified Master Empowerment Coach for women.