If you’re making your journey through menopause, going to sleep through the night may seem an impossible feat. Hot flashes can cause insomnia and sleep disturbances, which can leave many menopausal women tossing and turning or even waking up in a sweat. Not only is it affecting your sleep, the next day can leave you feeling irritable, anxious, fatigued and trouble concentrating, all of which are common for women going through menopause.
At times, menopause is not the only reason for disturbed sleep. It is sometimes caused by other age-related conditions such as joint pain, or anxiety over work and family can interfere with sleep. Therefore, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor if menopause symptoms continually keep you up at night.
For the moment, we chat through these lifestyle changes and sleep strategies which can help you rest easy.
Regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, mood and vitality. A study from Northwestern University was done which included included 23 sedentary people; most were women age 55 and older with insomnia. Half the group began doing moderate aerobic exercise four times a week. At the end of the study, those who exercised reported significant improvements in sleep. Don’t however, exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime as this can also interfere with sleep.
Having a healthy diet can really affect your sleep. Avoid large meals, especially before bedtime and spicy or acidic foods as these can trigger hot flashes.
What to avoid
Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol, especially before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant that can take as long as 8 hours to leave your system. Besides keeping you awake, it may also trigger hot flashes in some women. It’s best to avoid it altogether if you are struggling with insomnia or night sweats, but if you must it, have it early in the day.
Similarly, alcohol can trigger hot flashes. While it may help some people relax, it can make it harder for you to stay asleep. Alcohol keeps you for the deep, restorative stages of sleep that your body needs.
Dress in lightweight clothes, such as breathable cottons, as this may improve sleep efficiency. Avoid heavy, insulating blankets and consider using a fan or air conditioning to cool the air and increase circulation.
Reduce stress and worry as much as possible. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises or yoga and make it a nightly ritual. Yoga is a gentle and restorative way to wind down your day and help you sooth your mind and body, if you want to know some yoga poses that will help you relax read our blog here.
Establish a sleep routine
- Try to go to bed at the same time each day.
- Put down your phones or laptops half an hour to an hour before bed.
- Run a bubble bath an hour before bed to help you wind down and gently raise temperature, which can trigger the sleep mechanism.
- Surround yourself with scents such as lavender and geranium which are naturally calming scents to help you drift off.
- Heat up, with warm, milky drinks and herbal teas to help you wind down.
- Play soft, soothing music to put you in the right frame of mind for sleeping
- Ensure your room is set at the right temperature to help you sleep. For more information about the best temperature to sleep, read our blog here.