Sleeplessness is one of the most frustrating parts of menopause. It makes us feel sluggish, less productive and can lead to consuming far too much caffeine, which can kick-start the entire cycle all over again. Worse, a lack of sleep can lead to long-term health issues. Sadly, sleeplessness is a common problem for menopausal women, with 61% of menopausal women reporting insomnia.
Hot flashes (or night sweats) can be blamed for some of the declines in sleep quality we experience during menopause. Even though the average hot flash only lasts about 3 minutes, a sudden rise in body temperature is bound to wake you up, preventing truly restful sleep.
So what can you do to get more shut-eye? Here are a few ways to get better sleep during menopause.
Try a natural sleep aid
If you’re looking for a more natural way to fall asleep, try one of these natural sleep aids:
- Melatonin: One of the most popular natural sleep aids, melatonin is produced naturally in our bodies and gives the signal to our brain that it’s time to sleep. It’s especially useful to those with jet lag or with irregular sleep schedules. The downside? Melatonin may cause stomach issues for some, and it’s not intended for long-term use.
- Valerian root: As a natural remedy for anxiety, depression, and other menopause symptoms, valerian root can also help promote more restful sleep. However, it’s also not intended for long-term use.
- Magnesium: Aside from helping with countless processes in the body, magnesium can help quiet the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep. If you have persistent sleep issues, you may want to consider taking a magnesium supplement.
- Lavender: There’s a reason why lavender is such a popular aromatherapy treatment: its soothing scent is believed to help ease people with mild insomnia into sleep. With few known side effects, it’s considered fairly safe for most people to try.
Make your bedroom an oasis
Your bedroom should be a soothing, calming place where you can retreat to and relax. Of course, that’s not always realistic, but there are a few ways you can make it a little more sleep-friendly.
- If a tidy room gives you peace of mind, giving your bedroom a good cleaning could be just what the doctor ordered.
- A cooler temperature with help keep night sweats away - aim for a temperature between 60-67 degrees.
- Re-evaluate your mattress, pillows, and linens, and consider investing in high-quality ones that you love.
- Remove work materials, your laptop, and/or your TV from your room for a healthier sleep environment.
- To strengthen your brain’s association between your bed and sleep, and ultimately increase your sleep quality, only use your bed for sleep and sex.
- Create a soothing bedtime routine to help you enjoy your new oasis and take the anxiety out of bedtime.
Stick to a routine
Your body needs some time to wind down after a long day, so use the hour before your bedtime to do a calming activity, like reading or doing some gentle stretching. During this time, you should stay away from all electronics if possible, including your phone. It’s important to stick to the same sleep schedule as much as you can - yes, even on weekends.
This helps regulate your body’s clock and leads to a more restful sleep. Finally, try to avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals right before bed, as each of these can disrupt sleep. If you do get hungry, eating a light snack about 45 minutes before bedtime will help you avoid indigestion.
Embrace a healthy diet and exercise
Speaking of eating, it’s more important than ever to maintain a healthy diet during menopause to support a good night’s sleep. Now is the time to check in on your diet: are you consuming caffeine and sugar throughout the day? Are you reaching for an extra glass of wine before bed? Each of these things can disrupt your sleep cycle, preventing you from getting a restful night’s sleep. Spicy and acidic foods may also trigger night sweats, so it’s best to avoid those as well.
Finally, exercising daily for about 30-45 minutes is ideal for healthy sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends vigorous exercise, but any exercise will do. If you can’t hit the gym, a brisk walk works as well.
Sleep better during menopause
Try these tips to ease your way into a good night’s sleep - but if your sleep problems persist, speak with your doctor about other options that may be right for you. To learn more about how to get better sleep during menopause, check out our post, 5 Biggest Myths About Menopause and Sleeplessness.