Poor sleep sucks! And it can cause a range of bothersome symptoms:
- Making it harder for you to function during the daytime
- Making you hungrier during the day, leading to your eating more comfort foods
- Poor judgement
- Brain fog (forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating)
- Reduced motivation or energy
- Making errors or having accidents more often than usual
- Fatigue, and
- Ongoing worry about sleep.
Sleeps cleans the brain of harmful waste products and damaging free radicals.
Lack of sleep is a serious threat to the brain and it may deteriorate cognitive function and increase the risk of dementia.
Some factors that affect sleep:
- Alcohol – decreases REM sleep early in the night, but as the alcohol wears off there is a REM sleep rebound with prolonged REM stages and shorter deep-sleep stages.
- Medications – Sleeping aid medications increase light sleep but they can decrease deep restorative sleep. Antidepressants suppress REM sleep.
- Body temperature (hot flashes and night sweats)
- Hormone fluctuations (steep drop in estrogen levels). Estrogen levels will level out and, YES, you will sleep again (just like, if you had children, you may remember those sleepless nights and after that you were able to sleep again)
- Sleep disorders – sleep apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), and others
Dr, Maria Sunseri writes in her book Sleep After Menopause: 2nd Edition (short, inexpensive, and a sleep-changing read)
…when we are super conscious of waking and we fall back asleep we do not feel like we are sleeping. We have amnesia for the actual time of falling asleep, but then we wake and “alert” ourselves over and over with the passing of the clock time such that we do not feel that we have sleep in the intervening time even though we did sleep.
That’s why one of the best tips for better sleep is to turn the clock around.
Yes, because it doesn’t matter what time of the night it is when you wake up. What matters is that you will get back to sleep, and fast.
Here are other tips to help you get back to sleep:
- Avoid alcohol
- Your bedroom should be a quiet, dark, and cool, room (16 – 20 °C)
- Get natural daylight exposure
- Exercise regularly but not within 3 hours of going to sleep (exercise raises your core temperature and makes it harder to fall asleep)
- Take a warm shower before bed. It helps to cool you down and you’ll fall asleep faster.
- Don’t drink caffeine past 12 PM. Caffeine can linger in your body for up to 8 hours.
- Wear light sleeping clothes and light or no bed covers (only a sheet if you experience night sweats).
- Magnesium (100 – 200 mg) at bedtime may help you sleep
Teresa Isabel Dias is a pharmacist and Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP) who provides education and support on symptom management for women at work and at home so they’ll feel like themselves again and enjoy a vibrant and productive life.
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