What do pistachios, magnesium, bamboo clothing and lying with your legs up the wall have in common?!
The answer is they can all play a role in helping you to get a better night's sleep at perimenopause and beyond!
It is well known that hormonal shifts can create huge changes to our sleep patterns - thousands of women who have begun to track their periods have noticed that they experience a few nights of very disturbed sleep in the build up to their periods - it is also the number 1 driver for women finally talking to their doctors about their struggles with perimenopause.
Lying awake night after night not only makes you feel completely wiped out and exhausted - it can also worsen lifestyle diseases, increase cognitive decline and memory problems as well as affect your decision-making abilities, so it is definitely an aspect of your life you should consider working on as a priority.
However, despite the fact that insomnia is so prevalent among women and even though it has such a debilitating impact on their lives, it is often surprising to me how few actually consistently try to make a few changes that could make a tangible difference to their sleep.
Sometimes I wonder if the reason lies in how huge some of the steps seem to be - when you are already exhausted, extremely busy, feeling low and lacking in energy - to make large sweeping changes to your life like overhauling your diet, cutting out alcohol, working to eliminate stress or setting a regular bedtime routine can perhaps feel so daunting that it is easier to just give up before you have even started.
But what if I told you that there were a few little things that you could start doing today that could really help you get a better night's sleep in a short space of time?!
I imagine many of you would grab the opportunity with tired, grateful, open arms.
If so, read on...
If you decide to try any of these tips below then I encourage you to give them at least a couple of weeks to see whether they are making a tangible difference before you give up.
They are small, simple but perhaps a little unusal tricks and tips that I have come across in my research into menopause but I know many who have seen big differences from adopting them.
You don't even have to be perimenopausal to benefit - my eldest daughter is 12 and she has suffered from sleep problems for years - she will often lie awake into the early hours. I have tried many solutions for her but funnily enough it is the small handful of pistachios just before bed that she has credited with helping her get off to sleep more quickly recently!
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 UNUSUAL AND LESS WELL KNOWN SLEEP REMEDIES:
1. KIWIS, PISTACHIO NUTS & CHERRY JUICE
Surprising fun fact about pistachios and cherries: they contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
The sleep-promoting effects of kiwis are thought to be due to their content of serotonin, a brain chemical that also helps to regulate your sleep cycle.
Try eating 1 or 2 kiwis, a small handful of pistachio nuts or a small glass of cherry juice around 20 minutes before you head to bed to help you drift off into a calm, restful and healthy sleep.
2. GOOD QUALITY MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTS
Many people find that taking a good quality magnesium supplement can improve sleep as well as lowering stress levels and reduce hormonal migraines.
One of the many reasons our cells need magnesium is to help muscles relax. Many people have a magnesium deficiency as they are eating diets that contains practically no magnesium.
Processed foods, meat and dairy food contain very little or no magnesium. Drinking alcohol and coffee, too much stress and certain medications such as water tablets and antibiotics, can all reduce magnesium absorption.
Always talk to a healthcare professional before taking any new herbal or non herbal medicine.
3. KEEP COOL AND TRY BAMBOO CLOTHING AS NIGHTWEAR
There are a myriad of reasons why someone may suffer from insomnia during perimenopause such as anxiety, urinary problems, stress and depression but one of the most common reasons is night sweats and hot flushes.
If the latter is a problem then ditch the heavy duvet and replace with sheets and a lighter duvet - if you share a bed with someone who complains of getting cold when you continually shove the duvet off during the night, consider having two separate single duvets!
Get rid of synthetic nightwear and choose natural fabrics such as bamboo - there are now a number of brands who specialise in menopause nightwear specifically designed to help keep you cooler at night. I can tell you from personal experience that this simple tip is well worth the money - it has, quite simply, revolutionised my night sweats!
Also keep a bedside fan nearby to offer some relief from the heat.
4. LIE WITH YOUR LEGS UP AGAINST THE WALL
Legs Up Wall is a yoga pose.
You have undoubtedly be told that doing yoga can help with sleep and menopause symptoms but perhaps adding in a yoga class is ones of those things added to your never-ending 'to do' list that feels insurmountable right now.
If that is the case, then rather than punishing yourself, just try this one solitary pose every evening for 5 minutes before bed. Just 5 minutes is all it takes, yet it may save you from hours of wakefulness once you are under the covers!
Legs Up Wall is a wonderfully relaxing pose. The semi-supine aspect of putting your legs up, combined with controlled breathing, leads to a slowing down within your body.
This exhibits itself in a lowered heart rate and produces a relaxation response which can help lower anxiety, reduce stress and lessen insomnia.
This pose is ideal as a preparation before bedtime if you struggle with your sleep.
5. 4-7-8 BREATHING
If you have gone off to sleep but found yourself awake again in the early hours, it is worth trying the 4-7-8 breathing technique which has been described as a 'natural tranquiliser for the nervous system' helping to reduce tension in the body.
The technique is based on pranayama, an ancient Indian practice that means 'regulation of breath' and performing it can have a relaxing effect on the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest response that we need for good quality sleep), which promotes a state of calmness and can help you drift off again quickly into a restful deep sleep.
To perform this technique:
Begin by exhaling fully through the mouth
Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to the count of 4
Hold your breath as you count to 7
Exhale fully through your mouth to the count of 8
Repeat for a total of 4 full breath cycles
Keep practising this technique for a couple of weeks so your body recognises it and reaps the benefits as a relaxation and unwinding technique.
“When sleeping women wake, mountains move”
- Chinese Proverb -
If you enjoyed these tips, please leave me a comment below, then why not read more around the topic in my blog on why getting sleep sorted should be your top midlife priority:
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: