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