We all know a woman’s body changes during menopause, decreasing production of two hormones that are critical for proper reproductive function. Unfortunately, those two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are also heavily involved in regulating sleep. Changes in their levels and balance can contribute to sleep disturbances, a common complaint from women transitioning to menopause.
The good news is that the same sleep hygiene concepts that benefit premenopausal women, with a few special tweaks, will also benefit her as she transitions into menopause. From managing your environment to quieting that busy internal monologue, these are the five top tips to help you get better sleep during menopause:
Set a consistent schedule
The key to any sleep hygiene plan is consistency. The benefits of great sleep don’t come from a single night’s efforts. It takes consistent sleep of proper duration and quality to get most of us out of the sleep deficit we’ve dug ourselves into with our 24/7 lifestyles and high-stress responsibilities. One of the best places to start? Simply set specific times to get to bed at night and wake up in the morning. Sticking to a schedule will help stabilize your natural circadian rhythm and will help you set a bedtime routine that you can continue to customize as you improve your sleep ritual.
Turn off those screens!
We all hear about the importance of managing screen time for kids. Adults are just as bad! Recent research by Nielsen shows that American adults now spend about 11 hours a day looking at screens - up from 9.5 hours only four years ago. We’re now staring at our phones, tablets, TVs, and laptops longer than we sleep.
“Blue light,” which allows our digital devices to produce sharp, bright images, delays the release of melatonin, the primary sleep-regulating hormone. Blue light essentially tricks our brains into behaving like it’s daytime. It keeps melatonin levels low, even in the evening when melatonin should naturally be rising and preparing us for sleep. By turning off your screens 1-2 hours before bedtime, you’ll help your body complete its daily cycle and produce the signal to begin the process of falling asleep.
Disconnect from daily stress
For many of us, it’s not only the physical that keeps us from sleep, but also the psychological. With our 24/7 lifestyles, always-on-call work schedules, and family responsibilities, it’s no surprise that stress is a common driver of sleep disturbance. Ridding ourselves of all stress is impractical, but we can take action to calm our overactive minds at night.
Another benefit of powering down electronics is that we’re able to disconnect from the continuous hum of social media, texting, and work emails. Choose a time each evening, after dinner for example, to wrap up the important emails for work and let your friends know you’re signing off for the night. Once you’re finished and all the screens are dark, consciously separate yourself from the daytime flow and thought process. Begin a new phase in your day that is focused entirely on slowly winding down and preparing to drift smoothly into sleep. By creating a standard routine and time for disconnecting, your work and social contacts will have an easy time adapting to your new schedule (and might even follow your lead!).
Set your thermostat low for success
Research consistently shows that the best temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, fine tune a few degrees either way for maximal comfort. Err on the side of a bit too cool, since you can always add a blanket, if needed. It’s especially important to pay attention to bedroom temperature during menopause, since hot flashes can be a significant source of sleep disturbances. Wear loose-fitting clothing and keep an extra set of pajamas nearby in case a sudden hot flash leads to excessive sweating.
Try Som Sleep
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