Let’s talk about Sleep

Have you noticed a change in your sleep as you’ve got older? 

As we navigate the various changes that come with reaching perimenopause, I don’t know about you but one thing that changed drastically for me was sleep.

The importance of getting a quality night’s sleep cannot be overstated, as it plays such a crucial role in maintaining our overall well-being, ability to manage stress, and supporting our physical and mental health.

It can, however, also be the cause of much of our stress because we just aren’t getting that quality or length of time asleep that our body is crying out for.

And there begins that vicious cycle of stress = not sleeping + not sleeping = more stress.

Sound familiar?

I know you’ve probably heard all of this before and yes, you’ve probably tried a lot of it too, but.

It never hurts to come back to the simple things and double check that we really are doing everything within our power to ensure we get a good night’s sleep.
As we all know, menopause brings about hormonal changes, including a decrease in estrogen levels, which can contribute to sleep disturbances such as hot flashes and night sweats.  This alone can often lead you to waking up several times drenched in sweat one minute and shivering with cold the next.  I mean, how’s a woman supposed to get a good night’s rest with that going on?

Increased stress, busy schedules, and caregiving responsibilities can also contribute to sleep difficulties as we get older.

How many of us though just think it’s something we have to put up with?

How many of us have just resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ve just got to suffer in silence?

How often have you tried “everything” and it’s just not worked?
I want you to HONESTLY take a moment though, and ask yourself “Am I really doing everything I can to give myself a good night’s sleep?”
I want to address four areas that we are in total control of.
Nighttime routine: you know that routine you made your kids have grown, are we actually doing that for ourselves? Having a proper nighttime routine can really help set the stage for when we actually go to bed.

I’m not saying you’ve got to have a bath, read a story and have some warm milk but think about it.

What do you currently do?  Think about it and be honest with yourself.

Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can be a game changer. Things like calming activities before bedtime, such as reading, gentle stretching, or practising mindfulness to signal the body that it’s time to wind down.  And yes, that means turning the TV off and the phone off at least an hour before bed.

Optimise your sleep environment.  Ensuring the bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Minimise electronic devices in the bedroom to really give yourself a fighting chance.
Managing Menopausal Symptoms:  I’m sure a lot of you are thinking “I wish Sandra”. There are soooooooo many things that we are in control of when it comes to managing symptoms that many women ignore.  Lifestyle is the BIGGEST and again, be honest with yourself.

Other things we can do are ensure the bedroom is cool, use lightweight bedding, and consider wearing breathable sleepwear to alleviate the discomfort associated with hot flashes.

Obviously, if you are doing everything as far as lifestyle goes (more on that below) do consult with healthcare professionals to explore hormonal and non-hormonal treatment options for managing menopausal symptoms that impact sleep.
Incorporating Mind-Body Practices: Yoga and Meditation: Gentle yoga and mindfulness meditation can be effective tools to calm the mind and reduce stress, promoting better sleep.

Practice deep breathing techniques to relax the nervous system and promote a sense of tranquillity before bedtime.

Journalling, getting those thoughts out of your head and on paper.  Practice gratitude.  Write down 3 things that went well that day and 3 things you are grateful for each day.  It doesn’t matter how simple they are, ending the day thinking good thoughts will actually help you sleep better.

Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle: Here it is, the biggest one that we are in total control of. Engage in regular physical activity to promote overall health and enhance your sleep quality. However, avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.   Get outside each day to top up those vitamin D levels and during the winter months take a Vitamin D supplement.

Maintain a well-balanced diet.

That means limiting caffeine.  Ideally, we shouldn’t be having any caffeine in our diet after midday.

Limit alcohol intake, especially in the evening.  Again, alcohol will dehydrate you so even though you might think it helps you get off to sleep it will hinder a good night’s sleep – including triggering hot flashes and night sweats (caffeine can also do this to ladies).

Reduce ultra-processed foods and sugar.  If you aren’t sure what UPF is, just look at your food labels.  How many ingredients are in it?  Does it contain things that you wouldn’t have naturally in your kitchen store cupboard?  What hidden sugars are in it?

It’s now been proven that UPF not only has a detrimental effect on our bodies but also on our brains.  Once again highly processed foods and sugar can trigger menopause symptoms, and cause inflammation which will impact sleep.

Finally, whenever possible, try and allow around three hours after your last meal and the time you go to bed.  This allows your body to digest the meal so when bedtime comes around it can do all its repair work whilst you are sleeping.

That means literally locking the kitchen door and no evening snacking.

WOW, that was a lot to take in.

As I said at the start though, yes, we’ve probably heard it all before and tried it all before.
One question though.

Have you HONESTLY tried them ALL at the same time?

sandra harnett fitness