Ah, that elusive sleep. As menopausal women, sleep can be something that often escapes us. Between itching, night sweats, restless legs, tinnitus, aching joints and mental health difficulties to name just a few symptoms, it’s not surprising that sometimes we struggle to get rest! There’s nothing worse than 7am coming round and you waking up after what felt like 30 minutes of sleep, and having to try and go about your day as normal. It can leave you feeling..well, horrible!
There’s no promising, but here are some tips to improve your chances of a good night's sleep:
Follow a regular bedtime routine where possible. We obviously all have evenings where we will go out but a regular routine will help your body know when it’s time to snooze.
Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening. Are you a napper? I’ve never been a napper but I know that some ladies like a “power nap” or a “nanna nap” from time to time. Maybe just after lunch is the best time for that, but don’t leave it too late in the day, else it could ruin your chances of dropping off later. (Same goes for you as went for your toddler back in the day, to be honest…)
Try turning off screens (phones/TV/laptop/iPad) for the last hour a night. Checking your phone stimulates your brain and makes it less easy to switch off. Doomscrolling on TikTok or Twitter can set off thoughts that keep you awake at night. Try reading a book, listening to music or taking a relaxing bath instead.
*Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime. Otherwise your body will still be digesting and this can affect your chances of sleep.
Stay away from caffeine late in the day. Caffeine is a type of drug that promotes alertness. These drugs are called “stimulants.” Caffeine acts as an “adenosine receptor antagonist.” Adenosine is a substance in your body that promotes sleepiness. Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptor to keep you from feeling sleepy. It is recommended that you stop drinking caffeine four to six hours before bed.
Remember alcohol won't help you to sleep. Production of adenosine increases while drinking, allowing you to go to sleep quickly — however, this chemical quickly subsides, making you more likely to wake up throughout the night. Drinking before bed is also linked with more slow-wave sleep patterns called delta activity, but alpha activity, which indicates wakefulness with eyes closed and often precedes sleep, is turned on at the same time. Experiencing these two brain wave activities at the same time is thought to inhibit quality rest. Additionally, alcohol inhibits REM sleep, which is often considered the most mentally restorative phase of sleep.
Keep your room at a comfortable temperature (especially if you're struggling with hot flashes/night sweats – fans are your friend if you don’t have air con) and as quiet as possible.
Sleep deprivation is horrible (and can make your other symptoms feel even worse!), so follow the advice above and hopefully things may improve for you.