Menopause is one factor, but everyone is affected at times of extreme stress such as a bereavement or losing your job, or the stress of uncertainty in the current climate can definitely affect our ability to get a good night’s rest and that is an essential factor for good health. Dr Francesco Sofi of the University of Florence reviewed 122,500 patients and saw a connection between sleep quality and heart problems with researchers estimating a 45% greater risk from a heart related death.
Lack of sleep affects our judgement and physical coordination: research by the Henry Potter Advisory Committee of 2,000 respondents revealed car accidents, arguments that led to things said they later regretted, falls, accidents at work involving machinery or equipment and getting into a fight.
Turning to sleeping pills may seem the simplest solution, but it is not the best solution for most people. Short term it can be effective but there are side effects and the ‘morning after’ feeling of heaviness and fogginess that often accompanies such drugs makes them not the ideal choice. Also they are found to be ineffective for four out of ten adults who take them, so what else can you do?
1 Bioidentical natural progesterone helps by promoting a return to the natural sleep state. This was reported as a ‘side effect’ as far back as 1993 in the USA by Eric Braverman, MD and is one of the reasons that the late John Lee, MD recommended that women with sleep issues take a larger portion of their daily dose at night before they went to bed.
2 Leslie Kenton is also a fan of bioidentical natural progesterone and in her book ‘Passage to Power’ she finds that most menopausal women get off to sleep, but around 2am is prime for night time waking. She describes this as a very creative time and suggests you get up and use that time productively, so if you were planning on writing a novel or starting to paint that would be the incentive you need!
However if you need help getting off to sleep these four ‘R’ tips can help:
- Remove all stimulants from the afternoon onwards: caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and don’t watch tv or be on the computer just before bed either. Don’t be tempted by a siesta either, that won’t help you establish a good sleep regime.
- Routine – try to stick to the same time for sleeping and waking if you can and have your dinner early – it is much easier to sleep on an empty stomach rather than one trying to digest a heavy meal. Have a pattern that you follow each night such as having a bath or shower, or reading or listening to something calming – not murder mysteries or heavy metal!
- Relax with a warm (not hot) bath with some lavender oil in and light some candles instead of harsh overhead light. Soothe your nerves with a relaxing herb tea that can aid sleep such as one with chamomile, hops or a special blend to help you sleep.
- Remember to give thanks for at least three good things that made your day better. It’s the old fashioned ‘count your blessings’ but it really does seem to help if you have a positive memory to take into your sleep.
3 Herbal solutions have traditionally been used around the world and Potter’s in the UK have been providing such help since 1812. They make the appropriately named Nodoff mixture which has such sleep inducing ingredients as Hops, Valerian, Passion Flower, Scullcap and Jamaica Dogwood Bark. I can’t say it tastes wonderful, but it is effective and if you also are highly stressed you can combine it with their NewRelax tablets which have several of the same ingredients to relieve tenseness, irritability and agitation. Look for them in good health shops and Boots stores.
4 Reflexology is a popular therapy but you can’t usually get such a late night appointment, so one potential solution is new plaster style reflexology patches. Called Sleep Patch-It, they are placed on the soles of the feet before bed and give a feeling of warmth and deep relaxation by delivering FAR-infrared energy (the same energy waves emitted by the sun) that stimulate the key reflexology points on the feet.
A sleep disturbance trial found that on average, Sleep Patch-It reduced the amount of awake time at night by 40% as well as a 20% reduction in the time taken to fall asleep. They are available from major health stores or direct from the website at www.naturesdream.co.uk