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Five Tips To Help With Menopausal Sleep Problems

person lying on bed while covering face with pillow and holding eyeglassesThe effects of menopause on sleep can be chronic, debilitating, and downright annoying. It can affect all areas of our lives causing mood swings, exhaustion and anxiety. Add hot flushes and restless legs syndrome into the mix and we have a recipe for a vicious circle of wakeful nights where we lie in bed feeling increasingly exhausted and our days feeling drained, depleted and just downright tired.

I have suffered from insomnia and disturbed sleep for about ten years but it definitely picked up speed around my mid-fifties. I have suffered from restless legs syndrome (an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move the legs)  since my early twenties (when there was no name for it) but it often affects women for the first time during the perimenopause and menopause.

There are lots of herbal sleep remedies and teas on the market which claim to aid a restful sleep. I have tried several but they don’t work and if the did they did have the ability to send us to sleep they would have to be reclassified as drugs. These five tips work for me but I don’t always follow my own advice (which is why I know they work!).

  1. Don’t fall asleep watching television on the couch. If I fall asleep downstairs, by the time I get upstairs and brush my teeth, my muscles have woken up and want me to get active. This is also activates my restless leg syndrome.  I have learnt over the years that as soon as I get the urge to twitch my limbs, I need to go to bed. The causes of RSL are largely unknown but for me, being over tired and ignoring those first little twitches ensures it kicks in (pardon the pun) for the night.
  2. Don’t read your Kindle, phone or other electronic devices before going to sleep. I think most of us are now aware of the perils of the blue light emitted from our devices. It affects melatonin (the hormone which induces sleep) and signals to the mind that it is not time to sleep yet. If, like me, you absolutely have to read before going to sleep, a ‘real’ book will enable a more natural nodding off.
  3. Exercise, exercise exercise! I am a big believer in the power of exercise and its ability to enhance our quality of life in so many ways. It helps to reduce stress, requires us to expend energy making us feel more tired by the end of the day and helps to increase the time spent in a deep sleep – the most physically restorative sleep phase.
  4. Avoid late night meals but a banana before bed is said to aid sleep. Apparently the potassium, magnesium and zinc in a banana contribute to a restful night’s sleep.  I have tried it and actually had a good night’s sleep but I can’t say for sure that it was the banana that did it.  I do know though that for me, eating a meal late at night is not conducive to a restful night.
  5. Stare into the darkness instead of closing your eyes as you try to drift off. This helps to increase the sleep hormone melatonin but only if your room is pitch black so make sure there are no little chinks of light from lampposts or security lights poking through.

 

koala sleeping in the tree
If only I could sleep like  this little fella.

 

 

Carole Ludlow

I am a 50+ Fitness Instructor and founder of Hoopercise®. I'm also a college library manager, belly dancer, walker, cyclist and grandma. I'm a firm advocate of the positive side of the menopause and being an older woman in the 21st century!

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