For this guest post, one of our good friends, Lynette Sheppard, offers her tips for managing menopausal hot flashes, night sweats, and sleeplessness. Lynette Sheppard is the creator of Menopause Goddess Blog featuring women sharing wisdom for navigating the change with humor, heart, and hope. Please do check out the Menopause Goddess Blog.
All my life, I had been a good sleeper, dropping off for seven or eight hours of deep restful zzzz’s every night. Menopause changed all that.
I’d go to bed tired and drop off quickly only to wake at 1:00 am, 2:00 am, 4:00 am. After my first week of fitful half-sleep, I was a basket case.
Thankfully, I am once again able to sleep through most nights, only occasionally becoming reacquainted with wee hours wakefulness. Here are a few simple measures that might help nocturnally-challenged menopause goddess sisters or anyone experiencing sleeplessness.
Sensitivity to noise is one of the annoying symptoms of menopause and unfortunately, it occurs at night as well as in the daytime. I found that earplugs blocked unwanted sounds like my cat breathing or my husband snoring softly. Some women can’t tolerate having earplugs in, but for those who can, they are a sleep saver.
Light sensitivity is another sleep disrupter. The teeniest little emission of light from a charging phone or moonlight slipping in through the curtains keep us awake.) I’ve found wearing a face mask to be almost as conducive to a good night’s rest as earplugs. The only drawback is that sometimes they can feel HOT, which doesn’t work. Buy a good quality breathable mask like the Dreamlite Sleep Mask or make your own.
Limit Caffeine Near Bedtime
Some lucky women can imbibe fully leaded coffee or tea right up until time to turn in. I envy them. The rest of us have a cutoff time, after which our favorite caffeinated treats will pump us up way too much to sleep or will wake us after only a few hours. It’s a good idea to find your optimal cutoff time and stick to it. (Mine is no caffeine after 7pm.)
Easy on the Alcohol
If you are like most of us, you like an occasional glass of wine with dinner. Sadly, many of us have made a midlife discovery. One glass of wine relaxes us gently and we sleep well. However, two or more glasses may cause us to wake after just a few hours, too wired to go back to sleep. So we try to stick to our optimal alcohol amount if we want a full night’s sleep.
Fed Not Full
Don’t go to bed hungry – eat a couple of crackers with peanut butter. Hunger can definitely wake you, making it hard to go back to sleep. A good rule of thumb is to eat a snack if bedtime is 3 hours or more past dinnertime.
Conversely, eating a heavy or spicy meal just before retiring also interferes with sleep. Small, more frequent, meals work best.
Give up Napping
Daytime snoozes can keep you up at night. That said, I do know some women who swear by midday napping. If you find yourself waking during the night, try jettisoning those naps to see if it helps.
Use Your Bedroom Only For Sleeping
Form a habit of only using your bedroom for sleep. I must confess that I break this rule all the time, but it makes total sense to have a space that is just utilized for sleep.
Soft Comfortable Bedding
This is a no-brainer. Even if we can’t sleep, at least we can toss and turn in comfort. Slumber Cloud’s Nacreous Mattress Pad and Stratus Sheet Set can help. I also like linen sheets, although some women find them too scratchy.
If you suffer from hot flashes or night sweats, wicking pajamas or gowns can be a godsend. I rarely wear any other kind of sleepwear.
Meditation and Deep Breathing
You don’t have to sit on a cushion or be a world class meditator. Just sit quietly and clear your mind. Let thoughts drift by as if they were leaves on a stream. Deep breathing can relax you and prepare you for sleep. Let go of the day as you ready yourself for bed.
Lull Yourself Back to Sleep
If you can’t drift to sleep after 20 minutes of restlessness, get up and do something quiet, says author Susan Roberts.
Some women read or play endless games of computer solitaire. Others prefer to do something productive; actually crossing things off their to-do list till their eyelids become droopy. I usually read for a bit and fall right back to sleep.
Next time you find yourself awake when you ought to be asleep, notice what works or doesn’t in regaining your rest.
In the meantime, I wish you all sweet dreams and blissful nights of uninterrupted slumber.
Lynette Sheppard is the creator of Menopause Goddess Blog (menopausegoddessblog.com) featuring women sharing wisdom for navigating the change with humor, heart, and hope. As always, it was a pleasure working with Lynette. If you would like to offer your advice for dealing with menopause or sleeplessness, please comment below!