Finding a Peaceful Way to Sleep during Menopause


Expert’s Name: Stephanie Ackerman

Tossing, Turning, and Counting Sheep and Menopause Tiredness

Like many menopausal women, I have trouble sleeping. I have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting back to sleep. My husband calls it bed time aerobics! I battle the sheets. It’s not just the night sweats; it’s the calming of my body. Often, I find myself tugging the sheets, puffing up my pillow, pulling my hair back so that nothing touches my sensitive skin and keeps me from sleeping. Most of the time, I have things on my mind. It doesn’t have to be anything particular. Sometimes it’s just a song and it plays over and over in my head and I can’t stop it. Other times, I am going through my tae kwon do form. Nothing that keeps me awake is earth shattering.

I have tried sleeping pills. In fact, after being on one for a few months I developedgastroenteritis. As soon as I stopped the sleeping pill, my stomach was all better. I have tried, valerian, tryptophan, and other sleep supplement combinations and I have had mixed reactions. Often times, I feel very heavy headed, but still sleep does not come.

Sleep is critical for good health. A good night’s sleep helps you feel and look good and has been shown to help with weight loss, which as you know, is often an issue with menopausal women. It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep. If you are not sleeping fitfully on a regular basis, you may want to go to a sleep center and make sure you don’t have sleep apnea, which cause you to stop breathing momentarily. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and depression. Sufficient sleep is increasingly being recognized as an essential aspect of chronic disease prevention and health promotion.”

Finding a Peaceful Way to Sleep

The following suggestions have helped me to sleep better. Try them:

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Sleep at least 7 hours so you feel rested.
  • Make sure your bedroom climate is conducive to sleep.
  • Your room should be dark.
  • If you have night sweats, make sure there is proper ventilation in the room.
  • Keep your room at a cool sleeping temperature.
  • Do not watch TV in bed. Save the bedroom for sleep and sex.
  • Do not have caffeine in the evening.
  • Make sure your bed and bedding is comfortable.
  • Do not eat within three hours of bedtime.
  • Do not exercise within three hours of bedtime.
  • Do exercise earlier in the day.
  • Do not nap during the day time.
  • Try meditation or visual imagery for relaxation.
  • If you are sensitive to noise or if your partner snores, use ear plugs.
  • Count sheep. No joke, the repetitiveness of this exercise puts you to sleep.
  • Keep a notebook by the bed so that you can write down anything that worries you.
  • If you are cold at night, wearing socks can help you feel warmer.
  • Have a bedtime routine so that your body recognizes the signals that sleep is approaching.
  • Don’t bring up any sensitive subjects that require thought right before bedtime. Ask you partner not to do it either. (that is a tough one!)
  • Don’t go to sleep angry. Chances are you will “fight” in your sleep and have a restless night.
  • Depending on your bladder, you might like to drink warm milk or chamomile tea. That would keep me up going to the bathroom.
  • If you do have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, just get up and go. Chances are if you try to fight the urge, thirty minutes later you will be getting up anyhow, so you might as well get up and go in the first place.
  • I have read that if you are awake for more than twenty minutes, you should get up do something, and when you feel tired again go back to bed. There is no way I am leaving my cozy covers to go somewhere else in my cool, dark house. You can try it.
  • Hide the clock. Looking at the clock to see how late it is, and how much time you are awake, can cause disruption.

Sweet Dreams!

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