Good sleep is an issue a lot of adults struggle with. According to surveys 36% of adults in the UK struggle to get to sleep at least once a week and nearly 20% have trouble falling asleep every single night. 35.2% of adults in the US report sleeping on average less than seven hours a night.
Women have more trouble falling asleep than men and tend to seek more help with sleep issues. When I give talks to women’s groups and ask, ‘Who has sleep problems?’ I would say that nearly ninety percent of the audience put up their hands.
This is important because of the role sleep plays in our physical, emotional and cognitive health. Insufficient or poor quality sleep can increase the risk of:
- Heart disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure
- Certain cancers
- Weight gain and diabetes
- Weakened immune system
- Low mood
- Memory problem
Sleep at Menopause
Many women struggle to get good sleep at menopause. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, the changes in the levels of oestrogen in specific brain regions can disturb sleep patterns. Without sufficient oestrogen, the hypothalamus cannot regulate body temperature correctly leading to night sweats. Also, the brain stem is not activated to trigger sleep.
Secondly, anxiety is a common symptom of menopause and women may have trouble going to sleep because they are ruminating on worries. Add to this the general busyness of midlife with young adult children, older parents and more demanding careers.
Another symptom of menopause is joint pain which can become more troublesome at night.
Do’s and Don’ts of Good Sleep
I shared some of my top tips on the Hot Women Rock Radio Show on 5 August.
- Make your bedroom a sleep haven. Make sure it is cool, dark and quiet. Remove electrical and electronic equipment that might disturb you – yes that means your mobile phone! Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Choose natural fibres for your bed linen and bed clothes.
- Establish a regular and restful bedtime routine. Aim to go to bed at the same time each night. Do a relaxing activity before sleep such as reading or listening to music.
- Eat foods that promote sleep such as almonds, dark cherries, bananas, kale, quinoa and linseeds
- Listen to a meditation before you go to sleep. Use relaxation breathing to calm your mind and reduce tension in your body.
- Check your medications to see if a known side-effect is sleep disruption.
- Drink alcohol before you go to bed. It is a false friend that makes you think it is a relaxant but is actually a depressant. It disrupts the normal sleep pattern and dehydrates you.
- Drink caffeine after lunchtime. It is a stimulant and the effects may take eight hours to wear off.
- Eat rich heavy meals late in the evening.
- Do vigorous exercise in the evenings. It raises your heart rate and base temperature. Some gentle stretches or yoga are fine.
- Watch the evening news. Stop watching or listening to the news at 6pm to avoid getting stressed and anxious.
- Look at screens in bed that emit blue light. They stimulate the brain and keep you awake.
If you are having problems with achieving good sleep you can download a journal and a relaxing sleep track from the Hot Women, Cool Solutions website.
For personal help contact me to discuss how I might help you.