Updated: Mar 8
Have you ever gone off to sleep then woken up in the early hours and found yourself worrying about any number of things in the middle of the night?
Perhaps you used to sleep like a log in your teenage years and early 20s but now, no matter how hard you try, you wake up in the early hours and start mentally writing lists of all the things you think you should be doing?
Or maybe you feel like you have your life kind of figured out until - BAM - 1.30am hits and you find your mind filling with new worries and stresses that have never bothered you before.
When I was at the beginning of my perimenopause journey, long before I had a diagnosis or any idea that this is what was happening to me, I suffered from extremely debilitating insomnia for 2-3 years. I used to wake up at 2.30am every morning and would lie there awake for hours worrying about things that ordinarily would not have kept me awake.
I have since discovered, that of all the many varied perimenopause symptoms, this is THE number 1 problem that women in midlife go to see their doctor about.
While the physical symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes can be aggravating, there is something about insomnia and being in a permanent state of exhaustion that tip women over the edge.
So, if this is you, then know you are very much not alone.
But as we all know, life is so much harder to deal with on reduced sleep and suddenly all the other perimenopause symptoms that are bothering you become more pronounced.
You are tired, so you can't be bothered to cook, instead reaching for unhealthy ready meals or snacking late at night, not helping the increasing waistline that is already suffering from hormone fluctuations.
You are tired, so you become more snappy and irritable, taking out your aggravation and frustrations on your nearest and dearest.
You are tired, so you are not eating properly and your brain doesn't receive the correct nourishment it needs to function adequately, thereby exacerbating your symptoms of brain fog and increasing instances of you forgetting things.
You are tired, so you run out of energy or enthusiasm to make time to do some movement, fitness or exercise, which in turns adds to your increasing stress levels and expanding waistline.
And on and on the cycle goes...
This shows why bringing it back to sleep should be your NUMBER 1 priority if you are struggling with perimenopause symptoms.
But how can you make a start on improving your sleep?
Nowadays many of us will carry on being busy right up until we turn our lights out, surrounded by noise, light and the blue wavelengths from our many different devices and screens.
Yet we somehow get into bed and expect to fall asleep immediately which just isn’t going to happen!! You might have got away with it in your youth but not any longer.
Now is the time to start introducing rituals into your evening routine that will help you to calm your body, quieten your mind and prepare you for a restful sleep.
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 TIPS:
1. KEEP TO A STRICT BEDTIME ROUTINE
Most women need around 7-8 hours of sleep a night. It is really important to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – even at the weekends!
Say goodbye to sleeping in on a Saturday morning until 11am to make up for staying up until midnight during the week.
Our bodies and minds LOVE routine when it comes to the times we eat, drink, sleep and wake!!!
2. AVOID CAFFEINE IN THE AFTERNOON
This includes tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and even some food (sadly chocolate!) as they can prevent a good night’s sleep. They should be avoided several hours before going to bed.
3. TIME RESTRICTED EATING AND ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
Research shows that eating heavily near bedtime can worsen sleep quality, making sleep more restless and less refreshing.
Try eating dinner early, at least 3 or 4 hours before bed.
In addition, many women drink more alcohol to try and help them sleep but alcohol is actually a stimulant and can lead to very poor quality sleep. Cutting back or even stopping alcohol should be considered.
4. SLEEP IN A DARK QUIET ROOM WITHOUT SCREENS
Blackout blinds, ear plugs and eye masks can be useful. Also, have as much daylight as possible during waking hours, preferably during the morning, as it helps to regulate your circadian rhythm (your body's internal clock).
Devices such as smartphones and tablets emit short-wavelength blue light, which can disrupt the sleep hormone melatonin. Ideally, they should not even be switched on in the bedroom.
5. STRESS REDUCTION
Night times are often when we worry more and our minds can race. Finding ways to be calm and relax before going to sleep can be hugely beneficial.
Many women find meditation, mindfulness, restorative yoga, a warm bath with Epsom salts or even writing a journal for a few minutes, to completely “empty” their brain of all thoughts, really beneficial before going to sleep.
Lavender is a great smell that can help you relax. Try using a lavender pillow spray or body cream at bedtime.
“Sleep is the best meditation.”
If you would like access to a FREE yin yoga class designed to help you sleep more deeply then sign up to my FREE 3 Day Series here