We have all heard about the hot flashes, weight gain, and mood swings that are associated with menopause. But one of the more persistent side effects of menopause is insomnia. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 61% of menopausal women find it difficult fall asleep or stay asleep. Due to this widespread problem, many women either turn to sleep aid prescriptions or seek hormone therapy from their physicians. But sleep medications can become addictive, and hormone therapy can have its own side effects. So how can you get through menopause without being perpetually sleep deprived or dependent on drugs? Here are some tips to get you started.
Exercise is often good for mind, body, and soul. In relation to sleep, exercise can help make you drowsy enough to sleep. When you do aerobic exercise, your inner body temperature rises and so do your Cortisol levels. However, this exercise “high” is only temporary. As your body temperature decreases, and the cortisol diminishes, you become more relaxed and may even become drowsy enough to sleep. For the best results, it’s not advisable to exercise too close to bedtime or it can produce insomnia. Studies show exercise is more sleep- producing if is done more than a hour before bedtime.
Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
Staying up late to watch a movie may not be your best move for getting a good night’s sleep. While it may make you sleepy enough to go to sleep, the quality of your rest may not be good. Irregular sleep hours, or waking up and going to sleep at inconsistent times, can prevent you from feeling rested. Getting up early during the week and sleeping in on the weekends doesn’t cut it either. The only way to get restful sleep is to keep a regular sleep schedule. Anything else will leave you feeling sleep deprived.
Warm Bath or Shower Before Bed
A warm bath or shower is very effective in helping you relax and wind down before you go to sleep. To enhance this experience you might try adding Epsom salts to your tub or aromatherapy products containing lavender.
A Comfortable Bed
This may sound like a no brainer but many women are sleeping on beds that are either too firm or too soft. While you may skimp on other household items, it is always a good investment to get a quality mattress. Mattresses can range from the traditional coil mattresses to the gel and memory foam variety. The mattresses with the gel and memory foam may be somewhat better if you are menopausal because, they can tend to stay cooler than traditional mattresses. This can really be helpful if you suffer from hot flashes and night sweats.
But if you can’t find a good gel memory foam mattress or just prefer the coil variety, there are many pillows out there that contain gel too. The only caveat with the pillows are that they tend to be very firm. They can initially be somewhat uncomfortable but, soften up once they are broken in.
Another alternative is cooling packs that can be placed in your pillowcase. These packs are placed in your freezer during the day and help cool off your pillow at night. They may be a good alternative to the gel pillows if you prefer something a little softer.
Meditation or Relaxation Exercises
Listening to meditation or relaxation apps is a great way to deal with insomnia. These apps contain short sessions where a narrator gives you prompts to help you sleep, or there is a combination of prompts and soothing sounds. You can plug into a 10-20 minute relaxation app on your tablet or other mobile device.The apps are the most effective if they are used right before bed, or while you are in bed.