My top 7 steps how to sleep soundly through menopause

I have to say that I always envied people that could just drop into a deep sleep once their head hit the pillow. Even before peri-menopause it would take me an hour to wind down and head into slumberland. I am also a light sleeper when someone opens the front door 3 houses down, I would hear it. I needed to create my own7 steps to sleep through menopause soundly and wanted to share what worked for me in the hope that it would work for you too. I don’t know about you, but when don’t sleep, I get a bit cranky 🙈.

Let me tell you a bit about my “no sleep story”. I nearly burned out five years after the death of my husband. I held it all together until then, actually I kept myself frantically busy, not so much out of choice but I had to be the provider for my girls and their rock. As a trained psychotherapist, I did everything I could to prevent more damage being done to my girls. Losing their Dad at the age of 15 and 12 with no other family around must have been so hard for them and I was so determined to be the perfect mum, whilst working very hard and learning so many things that my husband used to do for our family. I also finished my masters in transformative teachings the same year. I would study and write at night and slept very little. 

I felt I was on day and night duty for years protecting my little ones from any more pain. All the noises I had never heard before at night in the house, for example, kept me awake. I always had anxiety and an active crazy but creative mind, which didn’t help either. My anxiety levels were so high but I always managed to hide very well. It all came crashing down for me once my youngest daughter had graduated. I couldn’t stop crying, it seemed another season of my life was over, never to return. I finally got my hormones tested and guess what, they were out of whack, no surprise there! But my cortisol levels were even worse! And this is stress related heart attack territory we are talking here! I was shocked because I was a health coach and mindfulness teacher and taught three classes of Nia movement every week.  I thought I was doing ok but I was completely wrong.

I became my own best client so to speak. I took a good look at my life and made a lot of necessary changes. To manage the stress of peri- and menopause plus empty nest syndrome and my near burn-out took some time and finally the dedication to make my health priority.  Sleep is only one of the pieces of the puzzles that is essential to sort out but a really important one.  

As many as 61 percent of women during peri-menopause and menopause report symptoms of—you guessed it—insomnia. 

It seems that so many things come together at once that cause these sleeping issues. Feeling like your melting into the hot lava of a volcano for example, also called “Hot flashes” of course! Not only during the day in all sorts of embarrassing situation but then also your night sweats occur during your sleep. When your body temperature rises and ends with you throwing off the covers and all your clothes (well, that’s what I do) you know you got them! They wake you up and interrupt your sleep, but may keep you from getting back to sleep too.  And did you know the average hot flash could last up to three minutes? For some women, it’s so bad that they have to get up in the middle of the night to change the bedsheets and whatever they are wearing. You can imagine that this a few times each night sure put a cramp in your sleeping style.

This will put a damper on your already messed up moods, sex life and can keep your mind racing at inopportune times. And just the anxiety of knowing that you haven’t slept well since who-knows-when can set you into a cascade of more anxiety and worry that you won’t sleep again tonight. 

Then there are the frequent trips to the bathroom, we tend to have during these years! Because our bladder muscle age along with the rest of us, which means its capacity to store urine diminishes also. 

But not everything is bad news and I would like to teach my top 7 tips on how to get a better night’s sleep. If you are pushed for time, you can access the “better sleep through menopause cheat here”, so that you have all the info you need and can access it with one glance.

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Let’s start with your 

 1. Nightly ritual

Give yourself 30 minutes to wind down with the following evening ritual.

Minute 1-10 Close the Day

How about every evening you vow to take 10 minutes to journal about your day? The good, the bad, the funny! And put some words of gratitude into your words about what you have accomplished, what you have learned, and what you are particularly grateful for.

This is a process you can use:

  1. I remember what I did starting from the evening going in reverse until I am in my mind where I started in the morning
  2. I look at my overall progress and check if I am doing all the things that I intended be doing 

From minute 10 – 20

Have a look at your schedule for tomorrow and your “to do list”

This is really important for me. Before I started doing this my busy mind would keep going over the things I needed to be doing the next day or week.  I would catch myself mumbling to myself in my head “don’t forget…. And afterwards….!”

When you wake up, you want to know exactly what your day is about. Do you have any important meetings or calls? Deadlines, maybe? What do you have to get done?

Schedule your “you time”, your workout time, your meditation time and how about a little of just “Being” time with no plans? 

This simple exercise takes away almost all stress and anxiety I have.

Most of my anxiety comes from unsolved problems and things I can’t control. For example, if my girls are safe and sound when they are out. But really, if I worry about them or not, it won’t change the end result and what happens. If they need me, it would better for everybody if I was well rested and ready for action. 

And often, I worry about problems that are not real. But when I say to myself: I’m going to work on problem X from 10 AM until 11 AM, I can relax.

Also, there’s nothing you can do late in the evening. Just go to bed, already. Leave the problem solving for tomorrow when your brain is fresh.

From minute 20 – 25: What are you going to wear tomorrow?

It’s all about your calm mind at night and to simplify your life. If know what you are going to wear the next day, that is one less thing to think about and to get ready in the morning. So why not prepare your outfit so you don’t have to use your precious brainpower in the morning?

From minute 25 – 30: 

Because you already have your schedule and “to do” list sorted for the next day you already know the “what” know I would like you to visualize the 
how”. How will you feel during that day? What makes you happy? What are the details of your day? If you are wondering why I am asking you to do this, it will make you more productive tomorrow and also puts your mind at rest in the “now”!

2. Your Sleep Environment and “Power Down”

Your bedroom should be your sanctuary – your retreat! The place you feel relaxed and comfortable! Which of course means that it is calm and not full of clutter! So, declutter your bedroom and create your own “Sleep Oasis”. 

Be Consistent

 Stay on Schedule.

Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day—even on weekends—is crucial for setting your body’s internal clock, which experts call your circadian rhythm. Staying consistent also means that the quality of your sleep will be better 

 3. Be Mindful of What You Eat 

Pay attention to when you eat—going to bed on an empty stomach or hungry can keep you up later and also going to up after a big feast will keep you up too.  And go easy on any liquids before going to bed to prevent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I try to get all my water in by 7 pm since I did this, I have stopped needing to do my usual trip to the toilet at 3 am .

 Your winding down Ritual is part of your Nightly Ritual (see above)

Whether it’s curling up with a book, listening to calming music or taking a warm bath, doing the same, relaxing thing every night will signal to your body that it’s time to settle down. As mentioned yesterday, switch all screens, phones, TV, off an hour before going to bed otherwise the blue light can trigger your brain to stay awake.

 Don’t Watch the Clock.Staring at the clock when you can’t sleep can stress you out and make it even harder to snooze. Keep your bedroom clock turned away from you so that you won’t be tempted to watch time tick by. If 20 minutes pass and you still can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and do something peaceful until you feel drowsy.

4.  Temperature 

It’s important to the get the temperature just right! If your bedroom is too cool, it’s not good and if it is too hot it’s not good either! Spending most of my time in Australia on the Sunshine Coast has taught me many valuable lessons since starting peri-menopause. I had to install air-conditioning in my bed room or there would be no sleep at all! 

The reason is that a cooler temperature helps your body maintain a consistent temperature so you get night sweats and related insomnia. But if it’s too cold, your body has to expend more energy warming you up, so you’ll have a harder time falling asleep. Experts agree that temperature is 21 degrees Celsius – 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  1. Sleepytime Sleepy Time Women’s Bamboo Pajamas, Hot Flash Menopause Relief, Round Neck (Medium, Grey)
  2. Cooling Pillow Gel Pad by Cool Care Technologies – The Cool Flash Sleeping Mat For Instant Cooling While You Sleep – Pressure-Activated Gel Technology For Migraines, Hot Flashes, Sleepless Nights

Sleeping at the recommended cool temperature can help  fall asleep faster, enjoy more restful sleep, prevent certain types of insomnia AND improves your metabolism.

Cool temperatures facilitate better-quality REM and deep sleep, both of which are critical to healthy daytime functioning. During the REM phase you experience dreams, while your brain processes learnings and consolidates memories. Sleeping deeply restores your body and repairs your muscles and tissue. 

In order to keep your bedroom temperature consistent during the night, following these tips:

Keep your bedroom windows closed at night, as the outdoor temperature can fluctuate and affect the consistency of your bedroom temperature.

  • Keep blinds and curtains closed to block out sunlight and its associated warmth. 
  • Darkness and coolness are two of the most important factors for a good night’s sleep. 

5. Supplements that help you Sleep

Let’s look at a few supplements that have been a great help to me and my clients during this time in our life. Please make sure you always buy the best quality product possible. Try to buy organic and look at the reviews. I use Metagenics products when I am in Australia. If you live in Australia and want to order Metagenics, let me know and I can help you with the order because they are a “practitioner only” brand. 

When I travel I use local health shops or Amazon UK or US to find the best products. You will find some of my recommendations in the post below. There as so much many other supplements that I use for many different ailments during menopause (hot flashes, regulate moods and hormones etc.)  but for our little challenge I will talk about my top 3 supplements that will help you sleep better 😊
 

Melatonin

Most women know melatonin as a go-to supplement for sleep. But Melatonin is also great for cardiovascular and cognitive health, as well as other health benefits.

It improves sleep by helping the body better regulate its biological clock and can also shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. I have found this product really helpful Melatonin for Sleep

Melatonin has strong antioxidant powers—and that means it can help protect against cell damage in the brain and throughout the body. There’s also evidence that melatonin can strengthen your bones.  

(Nature’s Bounty is a great brand, the 10 mg is a high dose because I had a lot of problems sleeping, it comes also in lower dosages) Also this  Sleep Spraycontaining Melatonin and Lavender is really nice and makes a great little present for a friend too.



Cortisol Stress and Sleep Manager

I love this product from Integrative Therapeutics It helps especially if you don’t sleep because of stress and your Cortisol levels are high. (High Cortisol levels are also linked to Hot Flashes).

It contains  Ashwagandha, Magnolia, and L-Theanine which all support your Adrenal Health and help with anxiety levels.  Here is the link for you to stress less and sleep better

(I love love love this product, it’s great and combines the best ingredients to handle stress, sleep and anxiety)

 

CBD Oil (not the stuff that gets you high though 😊)

Cannabinoids are now used in treatment for a broad—and growing—range of conditions and symptoms, from sleep and pain, to anxiety and inflammation, to Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

CBD oil can reduce anxiety, making it effective in reducing sleep disruptions and improving sleep quality. 

(The featured hemp oil drops I featured are of high quality and that is really important. Here is the link to the product that I use for better sleep and to combat anxiety Good quality hemp 

6. Yoga for Sleep

Getting some sleep at all was one of the things that I really struggled with plus hot flashes along with mood swings that I didn’t like. I remember yelling at my kids, whilst a part of me was listening and watching this crazy lady that just could not stop herself. I don’t know if you ever felt like that?

And then there was my anxiety and feeling old and frumpy! Of course, you would not have known all of that looking at my Facebook profile and I think this is like this for most of us! It was only when I got myself a coach, along with a great naturopath and holistic GP that things started to make sense. My transformation was amazing, it was hard work and didn’t happen overnight, but I transformed my life once again completely. 

Wellness is not only ONE thing, but there are many pieces to the puzzle. It takes a while to sort them all out, it’s not only about the right food, movement, supplements but also about the next phase in your life and learning how to take care of yourself instead of looking after everyone first. 

Let’s get back to our sleep: 

Here are Some Yoga Stretches to help you sleep:

1. Cat-Cow 

To start, get on your hands and knees. Keep knees in line with hips and wrists; elbows and shoulders should be perpendicular to the floor. As you inhale, slowly round your spine toward the ceiling. Drop your head toward the floor, mimicking the shape of a frightened cat. Hold that pose for one second. Next, exhale and return to starting position. Now, Inhale and lift your chest and tailbone to the ceiling as you curve your back down. Raise your head. Hold that pose for one second. Repeat these motions five to 10 times.

2. Seated Forward Bend 

Start in a seated position and extend your legs in front of you. Sit tall. As you inhale, reach arms overhead. Exhale as you fold forward and reach for your toes. Hold that position for 10 seconds. Return to start. Repeat.

3. Seated Twist 

To start, sit in a cross-legged position. Exhale and place your right hand on your left knee. Place left hand behind tailbone. Twist your torso to the left, gently, as you look over your left shoulder. Hold that position for 10 seconds. Return to start, then repeat on the opposite side.

4. Legs Up the Wall 

Sit near a wall. Roll onto your back, push your buttocks as close to the wall as possible, and lift your legs up in the air, over your hips, and rest them straight against the wall. With arms by your sides, turn up palms up. Hold that position for 10 to 20 seconds.

You can do these just for a few minutes and if you do that, every night, you are going to feel so much better.

7. Meditation for Sleep

Your mind is never “empty”

Meditation has been a big part of my life for about 30 years and I feel I am just beginning. Also, please don’t think your mind will ever be “empty”! This is not how this works at all, it’s more about learning to not get hooked into your thought and carried away! 

Now we even have scientific studies to show that meditation works, like this one https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2110998

Here is the result in a nutshell:

‘Both groups met six times, once a week for two hours. Compared with the people in the sleep education group, those in the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the six sessions.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

I am a teacher with insight timer, a free meditation app 

that you can easily download from the app store. Here is the link for you https://insighttimer.com

I you would like to meditate with me over there, here is the link to me https://insighttimer.com/susannemcallister

There are so many meditations for you to choose, for any length of time. How about just listening to a 10-minute Meditation for sleep on there.

But don’t forget, that I am not a fan of electronics in the bedroom and especially phones! The toxic radiation and Wi-Fi should be out of your bedroom for sure! 

I meditate at night before going asleep and in the morning to set myself up for a good day. 

I hope you enjoyed all these tips. Don’t forget to sign up here for your
“Sleep Better through Menopause Cheat Sheet” for your essential tips and  have your checklist handy at night!

 Have a beautiful night’s sleep 
Love  Susanne     


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