Many people suffer with insomnia at different times throughout their life for various reasons (grief, worry, stress, etc) but it’s also a well-known fact that insomnia is one of the many symptoms of perimenopause and menopause for women, and so something I wanted to talk about. As a sufferer of insomnia myself (it comes and goes), I have discovered a few things that actually do help!
I’m sure you’re aware that sleep is incredibly important for our health and well-being. I’m not sure though that everyone fully understands the myriad of reasons why good sleep is so essential. Yes obviously after a good night’s sleep we feel refreshed, alert and ready for a new day but there are also many more reasons that sleep is essential for our health and well-being. For example, prolonged lack of sleep: 1) results in you not being mentally alert and most likely having poor concentration; 2) is similar to being drunk so you have an increased risk of being involved in an accident; 3) means that you are considered to have a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack. Diabetes has also been strongly linked to insomnia and lack of sleep; 4) can make you fat; 5) ages you; 6) affects your memory; 7) is linked to developing depression.
So what can be done to improve your ability to sleep?
- Take Magnesium – it’s well-known for its ability to relieve insomnia. One study found that it helps decrease cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can keep you up at night. It also helps muscles relax, to give you that calm “sleepy” feeling and help you unwind after a long day.
- Regular exercise contributes to improved sleep quality. It’s best though to ensure work outs are completed five to six hours before going to bed to maximize sleep benefits.
- Refrain from drinking coffee for at least six hours before bedtime – if caffeine acts as a stimulant for you (it doesn’t for everyone).
- Try to make dinner time earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
- Reduce fluid intake prior to bed to avoid a full bladder requiring post bed time trips to the bathroom!
- Unplug and go screen free 2 hours before bed time. Why? Well – 1) exposing our brains to information overload just before bed is not conducive to a peaceful, relaxed mind; 2) delayed bedtime due to the fact that we can easily lose track of time; and 3) light emissions – looking at bright light at night can disrupt the body’s natural occurring circadian rhythm, which increases alertness and suppresses the release of the hormone melatonin, which is important for maintaining and regulating our sleep-wake cycle. (See also my Digital Detox post and series)
- Relax the mind – consider meditation. Meditation places people in a more relaxed state, both mentally and physically. With a clear mind (from focused meditation) you will have a greater likelihood of falling asleep, and the physical relaxation will allow your body to fall asleep more easily as part of the physical process of falling asleep requires physical relaxation. There are lots of meditations about that are specific to improving sleep. Here’s some I found with a quick Google search – HERE.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool. Quiet: remove any possible unwanted noises that will interfere with your ability to sleep. Dark: your body is programmed to sleep when it’s dark, so you can encourage that rhythm by easing into nighttime. Close blinds and curtains and remove unnecessary light sources. Cool: your body temperature naturally drops as you drift into sleep, so cooling down your bedroom can jump-start the process and make it easier to doze off. Most experts advise setting your thermostat 5° to 10° lower than your average daytime temperature, maybe even lower for women experiencing hot flashes!
- Have layers on your bed so you can add or remove layers according to the temperature and your comfort needs.
- Invest in a good pillow – one that allows your neck and spine to be straight and fully supported. Add extra pillows where needed (under the knees, supporting an arm, wherever it feels good).
Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. ~ Thomas Decker
Do you find that sticking your leg out makes the temperature just right? I do!
Good night (yawn) and ciao for now,
Linking up with Kylie Purtell for #IBOT
After a night of little sleep, this is helpful. I think the full bladder was my problem last night :/
Glad to be helpful Renee! Yes I often fall victim to FB syndrome! 😉 xo
Hahaha! Yes! I’m a leg stick-out-er-er too. What has helped me immensely is wearing glasses (non-prescription) that block blue light at night when I’m watching TV or using a device. I was skeptical at first, but I am really amazed what a difference it has made to me getting to sleep. Where it used to take me at least an hour to get to sleep after I went to bed, now I’m asleep within ten minutes. Now, just to tell my bladder not to wake me up at 5am!!
Well hello there fellow leg stick-er-out-er-er! lol And THANK YOU for telling me about those non-prescription glasses that block blue light! I didn’t know about those but now I do and I will be investigating getting myself a pair. If you work out a way to get that bladder to obey – please do fill me in! 😉 xo
I’ve not slept particularly well for about 13 years. I used to sleep like a log, but a long season of stress a number of years back seemed to start me on a pattern of sleep that isn’t great! I have learnt all of the things on your list from #3 to #10. We don’t have layers on our bed though – we changed to a woollen doona. It’s absolutely perfect no matter the season.
So magnesium and exercise. I suspect the magnesium is way easier to implement. The exercise….not so much. Long work days and a total lack of enjoyment completely get in the way.
Thanks for the tips. Even one thing that I didn’t already know is something I learnt and can try out.
Oh Tracey – 13 years is a long time! I think getting yourself onto some Magnesium is a must. It has really helped me and it helps in other ways as well! I know what you mean about exercise – very hard to fit in if you’re working long days – but maybe try and incorporate a bit more incidental exercise maybe – like walking to and from work or public transport or take the stairs instead of the escalator – things like that. Hope you sleep well again soon! 🙂 xo
Haha, I love that graphic! That is how I have always slept, with one leg out and the other foot cocooned in the blanket! Getting better sleep is something I have been meaning to work on, my bedtimes have been getting later and later and I know it’s not good for me. Especially when I’m going to need to be in a much better sleep pattern come next year when I have a school kid to get up and ready 5 days a week! I’ve had insomnia on and off since I was a kid, and there is nothing more frustrating than lying in bed for hours trying to fall asleep. It’s part of the reason why I got in the habit of reading before bed each night, it helps me to slow down and my brain knows it’s time to start getting ready to sleep.
I love that graphic too – so cute isn’t it?! 🙂 Yes I always sleep with one leg out too LOL – unless it’s very cold (which doesn’t happen often where I live) or very hot (in which case ALL of me is out)! My bed times are getting too late also. I need to get myself to bed earlier for sure. That’s no good that you’ve had insomnia on and off since you were a kid! It’s the pits watching the clock and tossing and turning. Nothing better than going to bed and next thing you know you wake up and it’s morning and you feel all refreshed ready for a new day. Reading is a good way to wind down for sure. xo
I really struggle with sleep and have months on end when I don’t get to sleep untll 2am. I try everything…. and have 4 different types of sleep app on my phone. But because it was affecting my work (ability to get up for work) my GP gave me some prescription pills and they’re heavenly. I have a rule about only taking them on days before work (3 days / week) but it gives me the fantasy of being one of those people who goes to bed and goes straight to sleep. It makes a huge difference to my day!
I like the sound of your heavenly pills Deb! So long as they don’t make you feel like a zombie the next day then fantastic! I’ve had my struggles with sleep over the years too. Bit by bit I’m finding ways that help. Last summer I had it all sorted. I was early to bed, early to rise and doing my sunrise walks. Now it’s gone a bit off kilter. I’m getting to bed too late, not getting up as early, not doing my sunrise walks. I need to get back to how I was last summer. That was working well! The warmer weather now will help. 🙂
I’m all for sticking a bit of leg out! We’ve made our bedroom screen free and have been trying to have at least half an hour screen free before we head to Sleepy Town. Next I want to try some sleep meditations… Watch this space!
LOL – high five to a fellow leg stick-er-out-er-er!! I must admit there is a TV in our bedroom BUT I do turn it off hours before I intend to sleep. Sleep meditations are awesome. Love them!! 🙂 xo
Such great reminders of the simple things we can do to get more sleep. I am been going between just a cotton blanket and a doona lately – one night it seems hot, the next its cooler again. I am such a tosser/turner if I am not the right temperature!
It’s a weird time of year for temperature – the inbetween stage! I have a sheet, a blanket and a doona on the bed still and the variations of what I have on me change multiple times through the night … but I always have one leg out! That helps regulate the temperature. lol
Yes! I love sticking my leg out!!!!
Me too – works perfectly to get the temperature just so! 😉 x
I often have trouble falling to sleep of a night…some great tips here thanks!
Magnesium has made a HUGE difference to my ability to fall asleep!
Magnesium is my new best friend! I only just discovered this!
Magnesium is a life changer! If only everyone realised how much we need it.