How To Sleep Well During Menopause

Are you finding it difficult to get to sleep? Do you wake up several times during the night and have to throw off the blankets pretty quickly to cool down? Is exhaustion and irritability leading to comfort eating and choosing the wrong kinds of food ? - If you are facing menopause and on top of all the uncomfortable symptoms, you are not getting the rest you need, it can really take a toll on your ability to focus and manage your symptoms and anxiety....

How to sleep during menopause? Look closely at how you are you living your day to day...

What happens if you’re losing sleep over menopause?  Let’s face it, a good night’s sleep is a gift to appreciate. 

It’s only when you lack sleep that you realise what a treasure a good night’s sleep is. Not sleeping well can lower your immune system, encourage comfort eating, heighten anxiety, leave you feeling exhausted and may lead to burnout. There's no magic off switch at night unless we take meds, drugs or alcohol which actually lead to further problems. So what can be done? Could it be that our sleep at night is based on how we live our day?

Vitality is a symptom of good health, but perimenopausal symptoms can sap your vitality even when you are otherwise healthy. It's important therefore to take measures to up your game with regards to your current definition of wellness.  How you respond to symptoms can also have a profound effect on your energy levels. If you keep pushing through without considering the needs of your whole body at this time, you may end up exhausted. However, when you go to bed at night your mind can annoyingly switch itself on and make it impossible to get to sleep.  It's like your mind is unable to stop the momentum of your daytime activities which is why how you treat yourself during the day has a lot to do with how you rest at night. We need to look at a whole 24 hour cycle (everything in life is about cycles!) and honour the body's needs.  When you are more attentive to your body it becomes more obvious when you need to rest, what food you need to eat and what you need to avoid. this self caring approach supports your health both physically and mentally so it becomes easier to manage symptoms and anxiety.

How important is sleep, and how can you sleep better during menopause?

Apart from the odd anxious night and specific reasons for not sleeping well, such as eating too much too late or being excited about something that's happening in my life, I have always slept pretty well, but then perimenopause happened!

I found the constant hot flashes and night sweats very disruptive. They woke me up several times a night and it was so difficult to get back to sleep! It seemed like there was a bubbling lava pool of anxiety in my stomach and a restlessness in my limbs that just wouldn’t disappear.

It felt endless…

In the morning, I would wake up feeling dreadful, sluggish, foggy and sad. I was sure that if I could just get a good night’s sleep, I’d be able to handle anything else about menopause. 

It affected my performance at work and it was hard to concentrate on anything. I felt like all my energy,  vitality and joy had drained out through my feet. I knew I had to do something to help me to sleep better.  I took sleeping pills once when my sleep was disrupted due to losing my dad and I didn't like the way they made me feel. Therefore, I began exploring some alternative, natural ways of getting some quality sleep.

How sleeplessness affects you

 The following highlights how the body reacts to sleeplessness

Sleeplessness can affect your weight

It negatively impacts your ability to manage your ideal weight.  Researchers have found a link between sleep deprivation, obesity and depression.  When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces too much Ghrelin – the gremlin of the munchies! Ghrelin is a hormone that is released in the stomach and stimulates your appetite. It increases your appetite for sweet sugary and fatty foods. Another hormone called Leptin is compromised through lack of sleep.  Leptin lets you know that you have eaten enough, it puts the breaks on your cravings to pick at food.  Metabolism can also slow down when you haven’t had enough sleep.

It can weaken your immune system

Proteins called cytokines are produced while you sleep.  Cytokines protect the body by fighting off infections and inflammation.

It can negatively affect the skin

It effects the elasticity of skin. Skin recovers from any daily abuse while you sleep.  A clinical trial conducted at the University Hospital’s Case Medical Centre in Cleveland, Ohio, found that skin recovery in people who slept well, was 30% higher than those who did not.  The body produces collagen while you sleep, so long term sleep deprivation can also lead to the skin prematurely aging.

As if perimenopausal symptoms weren't enough to deal with! We could also add irritability, memory loss, procrastination, increased chance of accidents, anxiety and depression, to this list.  That's why it's so important to be more caring with yourself during menopause.  

Tips for a better night’s sleep

Worrying about not getting enough sleep is counterproductive so the first thing to remember is not try, but to surrender and accept. If you are laying awake for a couple of hours, try not to react with frustration and practice meditation or body connection (scanning your body with your mind's eye) this stops your mind from taking over which can prolong the sleeplessness.

Commitment to self-care is also very important. Creating little rituals to honour yourself can help you to consistently prepare yourself well for the beautiful release and clearing that sleep is.  Night and day is a cycle and if your day is full of disruptions,  it very often translates into disrupted sleep patterns.  We often cannot control what is happening to us, but we can choose to respond in a way that is self-caring and accepting rather than reacting in frustration that often surfaces when we are attached to a certain outcome.  This can be a simple as responding to your fogginess by sitting down and taking a moment to reconnect to yourself. Possibly a difficult thing to do at work, but just time out to go to the ladies to practice some breathing exercises could suffice.  Here are some of the things I did that helped me to sleep better:

  • I stopped eating carbs and sugar at night because I found it made me restless. I also stopped drinking alcohol, caffeine or any food that gave me indigestion - my own choice but it felt fabulous. If that is a stretch, any reduction will help. The important thing is to feel what is supporting you and what isn't. This kind of self-awareness is great as it helps you to observe honestly. I was always curious and asking myself about my habits. Am I eating more than I really need? Why is that? Is it because I'm bored or emotional? What else can I do about that? Am I craving sweets because I feel tired? Do I want that glass of wine because I feel insecure? If so why? What's going on? You get the drift. So a good way to observe honestly is to be your own scientific experiment. What foods disturb your sleep? Which foods are supposed to be bad for you but actually feel pretty good in your body?  Be inspired to eat foods that can help you to sleep, such as those high in alpha carotene (carrots and butternut squash) lauric acid, magnesium, manganese. See my blog ‘Is Sleeplessness Becoming a Nightmare?’ for more on this subject. 
  • Meditation and vibration voice/body work.  I’ll tell you about that in the next paragraph. An absolute Godsend!
  • I created a very self-nurturing bedtime routine and started going to bed early as soon as my body naturally felt tired. Rather than watching TV till late and overriding that communication, I recorded what I didn't want to miss and watched it earlier. I have ended up watching much less TV which also feels great as I have time for more creative pastimes. Working with my body and not against it feels harmonious and joyful. My bedtime routine begins in the morning by making sure I make my bed in a way that is inviting and nurturing. The bedroom is a serene space (no TV or computers) where I can meditate and relax in a safe and serene area. Little self-caring touches such as lighting a lavender incense stick or using an essential oil diffuser (lavender and neroli are very relaxing) have a calming effect and also give you the clear message that you are worth it and cherished. Being extra tender when putting face/hand/body cream on after a shower or a relaxing bath also makes a difference. It all supports you to surrender to sleep.
  • A massage every now and again with my partner with relaxing essential oils is an extra special treat!

The pool of inner vibration - a meditation to fully surrender

meditation during menopause

I don't like being out of control I admit it, but it is pointless to hold onto control because trying to control life is absurd! Control doesn’t help you to sleep nor does it help you to cope with menopause for that matter. What does work is surrender. Imagine your diaphragm as a pool of vibration as you gently breathe in and let out a low hum. How does it feel within you?  

How to sleep well during menopause? Meditation

Even meditation can be subject to control if you are thinking about how to sit, breathe and relax. The meditation that helps you to sleep is the reconnecting and surrendering kind. Meditation can help you to let go of control and to reconnect with your body. From that inner world of space, you will discover a stillness and serenity that is definitely lovely to surrender to. 

I’m a singing teacher and have ironically been teaching students to control their breath for years, but not anymore. Tension, wherever it is held, murders vibration. When you are concentrating on external muscles for control, you won't feel the subtlety of those vibrations from within and this is something that can help us so much when it comes to getting to sleep.  Yes - humming low and meditatively, feeling the vibrations within and releasing the tensions in your whole body is a great way to get to sleep.

Are you curious to know more?

If you're curious and you would like to investigate how re-connecting to your body and using your voice can support you to sleep better during menopause, please click the link below. It takes you to a page where I demonstrate some techniques as a taster. If you would like a more personalised deep dive session, click here to contact me. I will get straight back and arrange a free trial with you. Don't suffer anymore and feel that there is no solution, get in touch - there's nothing to lose.

Please click on the button below and get your free video demonstration!

These lessons show you how to connect to your breath, your body and your voice so that you can surrender to the stillness within you

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