Sacred sleep! How to get your peri-menopausal body to sleep when your mind has other plans.

by | Nov 17, 2020 | Blog, Lifestyle, Menopause, Midlife Mindset, Wellbeing | 0 comments

Last night when I went to sleep there was something hard poking my back, I’m no princess and there are no peas in my bed, but my daughter put a plastic chameleon there as a joke!.

This same chameleon now travels from room to room every night, seeing who can outsmart the other. This morning I found it in our loo! 

My mom keeps potatoes in her bed, apparently it helps with her restless legs. Sometimes it’s better not to ask! 

Pranks aside, if you love going to bed for a good night of catching Z’s but at the same time apprehensive, because you’ve not been sleeping well because of peri-menopause symptoms like night sweats, it can be very stressful. 

Also, It’s frustrating when you’re so tired, but the minute your head hits the pillow, it’s as if a button goes off and your mind starts working overtime. Planning, organising, thinking, ruminating as if on repeat. 

Once you notice you can’t sleep, it’s like a vicious cycle, your muscles tense up, the mind goes into overdrive and sleep becomes even more difficult. 

Beauty sleep! Yes, it’s for beauty and so much more! It’s when our bodies repair itself, our brains literally clean itself and sleep affects every area of our physical and mental health. 

Maybe last night was one of those? How are you feeling today? 

With so many demands, stresses, night sweats, and gripping box sets it can be hard to get 7-8 solid deep hours of sleep a night. 

Wondering why you’re gaining weight around your middle? 

Do you feel like yoghurt, fruit and muesli when you’re exhausted and stressed? 

Nope- bring on the croissants, muffins or toast and jam (nothing wrong with these foods btw) it just won’t give you the energy you actually need. You may end up grazing all day on things that give you quick release energy and these are the foods (higher in fat and refined sugars) that make us prone to gaining weight more easily. 

Do you feel energised, sharp and calm?

Chances are on broken or inadequate sleep, that you feel the effects of stress more easily and your buttons get pushed more often. This can be a big reason why some people eat for reasons other than real tummy hunger.

There are many other reasons (like low blood sugar) that our sleep gets disrupted during the transition and there are remedies and supplements which help, but I’ll discuss that more in another post. For now, why not give these a go? 

Over and above the general sleep hygiene guidelines such as keeping the room dark and cool, here are 7 tips for falling asleep like a baby. (and you can use the same 7 tips when you wake up in the middle of the night) 

Firstly remove any foreign objects from your bed!

  1. Be a beginner

Remember, each night is a new night to try something different

  1. Don’t force it

Sleep is a process that can’t be forced. Instead, allow it to unfold. Trying too hard to sleep longer or better isn’t helpful and will only stress you out. 

  1. Let go

If you’re holding on to an idea of how much sleep you “should” get, you’ll only worry if you don’t get that amount. Can you let go of the “should” and allow sleep, any sleep, to happen naturally?

  1. No judging allowed 

It is easy to judge being awake instead of asleep as bad, especially if you haven’t slept well for several nights. But this kind of negative judgment can interfere with the process of sleep. Instead of labelling it as “good” or “bad,” is there a way you can think about your sleep that feels less judgmental? 

  1. Acceptance

Recognising and accepting your current state is an important first step in choosing how to respond. If you can accept that sleep is not likely to come soon, why not get out of bed? Spending long periods of time awake in bed might make you used to be awake in bed

  1. Trust

Trust that your mind and body knows what it needs. Also, trust that both can self-regulate and self-correct for sleep loss. For example, short consolidated sleep often feels more satisfying than longer fragmented sleep. Trust your sleep system and let it work for you.

  1. Patience

Be patient! If you’ve been in a cycle of sleeplessness, it can take time for the quality and quantity of your sleep to fall into a more natural rhythm.

Something I find useful is to keep my journal next to my bed and when I can’t sleep, I see this as Devine time to write uninterrupted. The world seems so peaceful and quiet in the middle of the night. 

You may feel that you’ve tried everything, but falling asleep is a great mindfulness practice, notice your thoughts and bring your awareness back to your breath.

You may have to do this five times or 105 times. 

I do find that saying a little gratitude affirmation/prayer helps every time. I never finish the list of ‘thank you’s’ only to wake up 7 hours later, still in the same position. 

If stress, anxiety, rumination or going to bed on an overfull tummy is keeping you from sleeping like a baby and you’ve tried ‘everything’ but nothing works, stay in touch. 

I love exploring the hidden forces that may be keeping you awake at night. It may be as simple as having your dinner an hour earlier or switching off your phone 90mins before bed. 

If it’s night sweats, keep a little food, mood and activity diary and see which nights are worse than others, you can trace back over the days and maybe there’s a pattern emerging? 

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As a qualified nutritional therapist, mindfulness teacher and trained chef, I have a deep understanding of all the factors that contribute to our wellbeing.

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