You may have noticed that when you have not had enough sleep you are more irritable and much more likely to be more emotional and prone to outbursts of anger. Menopause also impacts our sleep as hot flushes and night sweats disrupt our normal pattern and wakefulness during the night seems to be more common as well.
If you are suffering from slow reactions or not thinking clearly then if you are getting less than 4-6 hours sleep a night you may be even more prone to ‘brain fog’ than usual. prevention is always better than cure so how can you get a better night’s sleep?
Risks from not enough sleep
Lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease and now it seems it may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes among women. This latter information comes from analyzed data gathered from 133,353 women in the U.S.A who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study between 2000 and 2014.
When they enrolled, none of the women had diabetes, heart disease or cancer, but over 10 years of follow-up more than 6,400 developed type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that women who reported having trouble sleeping “all the time” or “most of the time” were more likely to develop diabetes than those who had no sleeping problems. The sleeping disturbances were also linked to a higher body mass index, being less active than other women in the study and a higher incidence of hypertension and depression.
Trouble sleeping is linked to excess secretion of hormones that increase appetite leading to weight gain, and stress, both of which are associated with metabolic problems that raise the risk of diabetes.
So how do we achieve a ‘good’ night’s sleep?
However, it isn’t the quantity of our rest that is important, it’s the quality because we are all different. It’s a myth that we all need eight hours per night as some people will function well on three hours, while others require more.
When we are younger we can often sleep far longer than as we age, so don’t have too fixed a view of what you ’should’ be getting. For me, a good night’s sleep is one that leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning and more productive throughout the day.
There are many elements that make up a good night’s sleep and remember it won’t be the same for you as for everyone else. You need to find your own routine that helps you go to sleep, stay asleep and wake refreshed, but these tips can help.
1. A comfy bed and pillow might seem obvious but how long since you replaced your mattress? Did you know that you spend around 2900 hours on your mattress every year and that’s why both the mattress industry and the Sleep Council strongly recommend that you replace it every eight years, because by this time it will have lost much of its original comfort and support.
If your pillow is not properly supporting your neck, you wake up with aches and pains and also at menopause what is also helpful is either a pad for the mattress or pillow with a cooling gel in it to help reduce the heat of those night sweats and flushes.
2. Create a sleep sanctuary so your bedroom is quiet, dark and the correct temperature – around 16-18C is perfect. If you are used to watching tv, or using a laptop in bed then try give it up and see if it makes a difference. Electrical and electronic items have an impact on quality of sleep and reading emails or searching online also doesn’t help you relax and wind down.
3. Have a tried and tested bedtime routine because you know it works on children, and it is just as important for adults too. Start your bedtime routine about an hour before going to sleep in order to allow enough time for both the body and the mind to wind down.
4. Don’t go to bed hungry, but avoid a heavy meal late in the evening and avoid drinking too much – particularly alcohol and caffeine – as they are too stimulating and won’t help you sleep.
5. Use natural aids known to encourage relaxation and sleep such as bioidentical progesterone, herbs such as valerian and hops, and try a few drops of lavender oil or a lavender mist on your pillow as a traditional method of aiding sleep.
6. If your mind is too active when you get into bed, you will not be able to fall asleep – no matter how tired you are. Learn and practice one or more relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises that can help you slow down and calm your mind.
Many women find that bioidentical progesterone, as well as helping with menopause symptoms, also aids a good night’s sleep as it help us to relax. Stress is also a factor that inhibits sleep as anxiety and worry are often what keep us awake.