Tips and Strategies to Improve Your Sleep During Menopausal Journey (By Deon Hall Garriques)
As a woman transitions through the various stages of menopause, there are often a variety of changes that are happening in her life. She may still be raising children or supporting children as they move into adulthood, taking care of elderly relatives, reflecting on her own life, and dealing with the changes in her own body (fluctuation of hormones) which usually includes various menopausal symptoms (sleep issues, hot flashes, bloating, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, etc.). Dealing with all these changes and symptoms can leave a woman feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
While there are different ways to address menopausal symptoms, it is never a one-size-fits-all. Your best option is to work with a medical provider who understands menopause and a menopause/wellness coach who can help her implement her provider's recommendations.
In my coaching practice, one of the top complaints I hear from women is difficulty sleeping during the menopausal journey which consists of three phases, perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.
Some women can use over-the-counter sleep aids (for short-term use only) to get better sleep, while others may need to consult their providers for evaluation and treatment.
Lack of consistent sleep can affect different areas of your life and lead to other health issues such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Here are a few tips & strategies to improve your sleep during your menopausal journey. Please note that most of these recommendations are from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Start by tracking your sleep, using this Sleep Diary from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Download the NSF Sleep Diary. Research shows that tracking an activity you want to improve or change increases the likelihood that you will experience success.
Establish a consistent bedtime schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time daily. Create a bedtime routine such as taking a warm bath with essential oils or Epsom salt, reading a book, or listening to soothing music.
Incorporate regular exercise as part of your daily routine but not close to bedtime.
Avoid eating large meals or caffeinated drinks (found in many coffees, teas, and chocolate) late in the day or close to bedtime.
Be mindful of your alcohol consumption as alcohol can make falling asleep more difficult, even in small amounts.
Avoid late afternoon naps as it may keep you awake when it's bedtime.
Maintain a comfortable temperature in your bedroom and keep it as quiet as possible.
Avoid watching television or using your computer or mobile device in the bedroom. The light from these devices may make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Practice relaxing your entire body by bringing awareness to different parts of your body starting with your toes. Imagine your toes are completely relaxed, then your feet, and then your ankles and work your way up the rest of your body, section by section. This is similar to a savasana at the end of a yoga practice.
If the above tips and strategies do not improve your sleep, another suggestion from NIA is to consider cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. This problem-solving approach to therapy has been shown to help improve sleep in women with menopausal symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be done through a class or in one-on-one sessions. Find a trained professional with experience working with women during their menopausal transition. Your doctor
maybe able to recommend a therapist in your area.
Sleep is fundamental to your health and well-being, therefore you should make every attempt to improve the quality of sleep even if you do not have a severe sleep problem. I recommend that you first download the Sleep Diary from NIA and track your sleep. Pick two to three items from the tips and strategies above and try to implement them. You will likely have more success if you start small. Don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions.
Additional resource on sleep and aging: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/good-nights-slee; Source:https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/sleep-problems-and-menopause-what-can-i-do
In Good Health,
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide medical advice. The purpose is to provide education and a broader understanding to my readers. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. I do not recommend or prescribe, or recommend changing dosage or discontinuing, any prescription medications or pharmaceutical drugs.
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