Better Sleep in Perimenopause and Menopause
Nutrition, fitness and other strategies for a more restful night's sleep
There are several factors that affect quality of sleep, some of which can be improved with changes in your nutrition and fitness regimen.
The following are a variety of tips you can try at home to improve your sleep for mild to moderate symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Take note, that it may only take one change or it may take ten to improve your sleep. The process to a better night’s sleep can take time and can, and will, change with your hormonal fluctuations
However, it is important to note, if you are suffering from severe night sweats, hot flashes and lack of sleep due to the hormonal fluctuations in perimenopause and menopause, you may need to talk with your Doctor about menopause hormone therapy to help with severe symptoms.
- Finish eating at least two hours before going to bed
- If you are hungry and want a snack, dairy products, such as ½ cup cottage cheese or plain greek yogurt can be a good snack. If you have a lactose intolerance, use plant based sources of yogurt or cottage cheese.
- Drinking alcohol with dinner is okay, but continuing to drink alcohol after dinner up until bedtime can make for a bad nights sleep. It can also increase the severity of hot flashes in the night.
- No caffeine after about 2 or 3 PM. Caffeine can stay in your system anywhere from 6-10 hours. That means that the cup of java you had at 3 PM could potentially still be in your system at 9 PM, preventing you from falling asleep.
- A 4 oz glass of tart cherry juice 30 minutes before bed may help you to fall asleep. The ice cold part helps to lower your core body temperature to help decrease the severity or lessen a night sweat, while the compounds in the cherries can decrease inflammation. Lastly, cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that naturally helps you to fall asleep.
- Except for the cherry juice 30 minutes before bed, try to limit or eliminate drinking fluids within 2 hours of bedtime to prevent the nighttime bathroom urge from waking you up
- Exercising on a regular basis does make your body tired and can help to promote sleep at the end of the day.
- Exercise a minimum of 2 hours or more before bed. Heavy or hard exercise within 2 hours of bedtime can ‘amp’ up your system and make it hard to fall asleep.
- Exercise as early in the day as you are able to allow your body to fully recover and relax from the exercise session.
- If you are struggling with hot flashes and night sweats, the room temperature should be no more than 65 degrees F.
- A fan could be useful to help keep you cool.
- Make sure there are no lights on throughout the night in your room (including a phone which lights up with every message that comes through).
- If you are sensitive to noises, use ear plugs or a white noise machine in your room.
- Have dark curtains put on your windows.
Miscellaneous things to consider for night sweats
- Pajamas made out of bamboo wick sweat away really well and dry quickly.
- Sheex brand sheet sets wick moisture and breathe better than traditional cotton sheets, helping you to stay cooler
- See above in nutrition recommendations, especially things to avoid
Implement a bedtime routine that starts to shut your brain down, for example:
- Minimum of no screens 30 minutes before bed. Better yet, no screens within 1 hour of going to bed. The blue light given off by phones signals your brain to stay awake, not relax
- If you do use screens up to, and in bed, buy some blue light cancelling glasses. They can be found at most drugstores.
- Relax with 10-15 minutes of quiet sitting before going to bed
- Write down any thoughts or concerns you have for the next day so you won’t worry about forgetting them at night
- Sleep with a notebook by your bed for those middle of the night thoughts that are preventing you from falling back to sleep.
- If you are laying in bed and can’t fall asleep, stop fighting it. Push back your bedtime an hour so that you will truly be in bed when you are just sleeping.
As you can see, there are several things you can do to help promote a better night’s sleep. Sleep can truly make or break your day (we all know that). Trouble sleeping and a lack of sleep for a variety of reasons increases stress, hence our cortisol levels, and in turn, can result in unwanted weight gain as well. During perimenopause, menopause and post menopause, stress and weight gain are two of the biggest complaints women have. There are several factors for this, including changing hormone levels and life circumstances. Trying to pinpoint areas that may improve your sleep using some suggestions from the list above will take time. But, hopefully you will have some ideas of where to start.
Cheers to a better night’s sleep and more zzzzz’s at night.