Sleep is a universal requirement assuring good health and well-being, yet scientists and researchers are only beginning to understand the long-term health impacts from its lack.
Loss of sleep affects body and mind, increasing the risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance and inflammation.
Inadequate rest also impacts moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program?
The three main purposes of sleep:
- Restores body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and “detoxify” the brain during this cycle
- Improves the brain’s ability to learn and recall known as “synaptic plasticity”
- Conserves energy
During perimenopause, a woman’s ovaries gradually decrease estrogen production and progesterone, leading to many symptoms including sleep disruption. It’s the chief complaint of women in this stage of life.
Sleep is also affected by:
- hot flashes
- night sweats,
- sleep disordered breathing
- sleep apnea (shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep)
- depression and anxiety
- restless leg syndrome
Adults need an average of 7-9 hours of restful uninterrupted sleep each night.
To get the rest you need, try these tips:
1. Aim for a consistent sleep schedule. Turn off lights 8 hours before the alarm is set for morning wake up. Seven. Days. A. Week. Yes, even on weekends.
2 Balance blood sugar throughout the day. Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose whole oranges instead of juice. Make sure you’re getting some protein at every meal.
3. Choose health foods and avoid large meals, especially before bedtime. Avoid trigger foods. Spicy or acidic items may cause hot flashes.
4. Get sunshine and exercise in daylight hours- they will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
5. Avoid caffeine and sugar after 12pm.
6. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). Dim artificial lights and nix screen time. Read a book (actual, not “e”) or take a bath with Epson Salts (magnesium sulfate).
7. Avoid nicotine and alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol interferes with normal sleep patterns and contains sugar – which stimulates.
8. Dress in light weight clothes made of natural fibers like pure cotton or silk.
9. Reduce stress and worry by using relaxation techniques, exercise or breathing.
10. Make your room dark, quiet and keep the temperature as cool as tolerable.
11. Keep a cloth in a bucket of ice near the bed.
12. Take magnesium one hour before sleep and/or apply some magnesium oil on your temples and forehead.
13. Drink a cup of lemon vervain tea one hour before bedtime. This lesser known herb assists with insomnia.
14. Try aromatherapy. Specific essential oils can help you sleep more easily. One of the best is lavender oil, but also try vetiver, chamomile and ylang ylang. Use a diffuser and add a few drops to one table spoon of coconut oil or jojoba oil and apply directly to your skin (face and neck are ideal).
15. Try Melatonin supplements. This pineal gland hormone helps control sleep and wake cycles.
One size does not fit all! Experiment with sleep remedies to find the best solutions. You’ll soon be sending those sheep to pasture and waking up refreshed and ready to face the day!
LAURA PEISCHL, BA, INHC
Laura is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Holistic Menopause Health Specialist and Certified Hormone Health and Wellness Practitioner. She is the founder and owner of Feel Good Menopause.