Ellen Dolgen offers the best tips on how to court the most elusive man of them all: Mr. Sandman. Read more from Ellen on her website.
Are you “Sleepless in Seattle”? Does Disney’s Sleeping Beauty make you hostile? Does the sight of a blissfully snoozing infant make you weep? Do memories of teenage sleepathons that last 12 hours make you misty with nostalgia? Take heart, you’ve got a lot of company.
Insomnia is a problem many women encounter when they enter perimenopause. I have always been a very busy, multitasking kind of person, who worked hard in the daytime and slept hard at night (including falling asleep mid-conversation, but we don’t need to get into that). All of a sudden in my forties, not only was I having trouble sleeping, but multitasking became more difficult, too. My focus and memory kept failing me. I felt like an alien had taken over my body and I was no longer in control. My insomnia was getting the best of my … what was I just about to say?
If you’re suffering through insomnia, you are not alone. Only 45% of peri-menopausal women report getting a good night’s sleep almost every night, says the National Sleep Foundation. Hormones connect your brain and body. When they change, the way your brain and body function does, too. Progesterone is a very important hormone for sleep, but progesterone levels drop when you enter perimenopause, making your body chemically less capable of sleeping well.
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) lists trouble falling asleep as one of their main five symptoms of menopause. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), most women complain of sleeplessness during perimenopause to post-menopause, with about 61% of post-menopausal women having issues with insomnia.
A study conducted in 2013 by scientists at the University of California San Francisco found a lack of sleep can put adults at risk for a variety of chronic health issues. A report published in Harvard University’s Harvard Women’s Health Watch in 2006 says adults who sleep less than six hours a night can suffer from such issues as memory loss, poor cardiovascular health, irritability, and problems with their metabolism and weight.
Here are four tips to help you get back in touch with Mr. Sandman:
1. Get Moving
To get a good night’s sleep, you may have to move your body more during the day. Menopausal women who had more leisure physical activity during the day reported rating their sleep as good. Those same women who did household physical activity during the day—like vacuuming and mopping—found they were sleeping through the night more.
2. Just Relax
While you are lathering yourself in your latest and greatest wrinkle reducing moisturizer, think about preparing yourself for sleep, too. Before you hit the sack, try some tricks to help relax your body and get you in the sleeping mode. For example, do something calming, like reading a book while sipping some chamomile tea, enjoying a candlelight bath, or just closing your eyes and listening to some soft music. As it gets closer to sleep time, prepare your bedroom so there are no distractions—eliminate as much light and sound as possible, and definitely keep your bedroom a smart-phone-free zone (phone sex is permitted). In fact, experts suggest you turn off all the electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
3. Stay Cool
Hot flashes can be another reason why women in menopause have a hard time staying asleep. To help combat the heat, be prepared by wearing loose-fitting clothing to bed and by making sure your sleeping area is well ventilated.
4. Consider Hormone Therapy
An article published in Menopausal Medicine—the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine—says that studies have found HT helped menopausal women with sleeping issues, and helped them get more productive sleep. If sleeplessness is a major issue for you, this is an option you may want to discuss with your menopause specialist.
There’s no need to stumble through your day like an extra on The Walking Dead. Ditch your inner zombie and get your snooze back!