Menopause Kuel Category Expert: Lorraine Miano
(excerpt from The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back!)
There are multiple reasons why you may be suffering from insomnia. Other than stress and anxiety during the perimenopausal years, as hormones change, this can have an impact on your sleep. Estrogen and progesterone levels decrease. Progesterone is a hormone that promotes sleep. When your hormone levels are constantly shifting, this can cause disruptions in many areas of your life, including the ability to fall asleep.
Sleep deprivation can be one of the leading causes of serious health issues such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, or obesity. Lack of sleep can also affect anxiety and depression or even play a role in your lack of desire or sex drive.
Most women I see in my health coaching business complain about either their insomnia, interruption of sleep, or general lack of sleep. Many have come to realize that their diets, and more specifically, what they are drinking is leading to insomnia and sleep disruptions. The main culprits are wine and caffeine. I can hear you now,
“DON’T MAKE ME GIVE UP MY WINE!!”
Women tend to think of wine as a stress reliever. Having a glass of red or white in the evening (or even two or three) makes them feel more relaxed. This could be true in the short term where drinking alcohol may help you fall asleep. But what often occurs is a disruption of your REM cycle. The more you drink, the more pronounced the effect is. So what exactly does this mean? Your REM sleep is restorative. Research shows that alcohol causes disruptions in sleep, especially in the second half of the night. This can lead to daytime drowsiness and poor concentrations, along with lack of sleep.
Caffeine of course is a well-known stimulant. Drinking caffeinated beverages can lead to insomnia or sleep disruption, anxiety, nervousness, and in menopausal women, it can also trigger hot flashes. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, it is best to stay clear of caffeine.
So just how can you be sure to get those ZZZ’s and avoid the side effects from sleep disturbances?
- Maintaining a regular bed and wake time should be of the utmost importance.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine such as taking a bath, personal skin care, listening to music, having a hot towel scrub, breathing exercises or gratitude journaling.
- Be sure your sleep environment is dark and quiet as well as comfortable and cool. This includes your mattress and pillows.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Maybe keep the TV turned off (or remove it). Be sure those phones are NOT IN THE ROOM.
- Do not eat at least two to three hours before your regular bedtime.
- Exercise regularly but avoid it a few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime (or at all) as they can lead to sleep disruption later in the night.
Instead of a glass of wine in the evenings, I have discovered that herbal teas (no caffeine!) are extremely satisfying. They are flavorful and often soothing and relaxing. Some of my absolute favorites are spearmint, peppermint, ginger, hawthorn with hibiscus, or chamomile and lavender. A nice cup of herbal tea can help you to wind down before bedtime. Another soothing and immune boosting beverage you may enjoy just prior to beddie-bye time is called Golden Milk, otherwise known as turmeric tea. This is a delicious mixture of turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon, raw honey, black pepper and either ginger powder or a piece of fresh ginger. See recipe below:
2 cups coconut milk (or almond)
1 teaspoon turmeric
Cinnamon to taste
1 teaspoon raw honey or pure maple syrup
Pinch of black pepper (increases absorption)
Tiny piece of peeled fresh ginger root, or ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
Pour into a small sauce pan and heat for 2-4 minutes over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
Another way to find some relaxation is to take a magnesium supplement. (*note: as with any supplement, always check with your healthcare provider before taking it) This is a great supplement to take for relaxation as well as stress relief. A fantastic way to add some magnesium into your life is to take a relaxing Epsom salt bath. Add a few drops of organic lavender essential oil and your body will be cooing with appreciation. A warm bath just before bed time might just do the trick! Taking a daily magnesium supplement will also help to keep your body relaxed.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, one of the top health experts in the country, refers to magnesium as “the missing link to better health.” Dr. Mercola says, “Magnesium is perhaps one of the most overlooked minerals.
This is especially important because an estimated eighty percent of Americans are deficient in it. The health consequences of deficiency can be quite significant, and can be aggravated by many, if not most, drug treatments.” I would suggest that every woman look into this beneficial mineral; I would go so far as to call it a miraculous mineral. You will be amazed at how many aspects of your health could be helped by taking magnesium supplements.
If you are having bouts of insomnia and you just can’t turn off your mind, melatonin may help. Melatonin is a natural hormone that assists in regulating sleep habits. It is produced by the pineal gland at the base of the brain. You can also purchase it over-the-counter in supplement form. It is helpful for mild or occasional menopause induced insomnia and recent studies claim it to be a potent antioxidant and anti-aging therapy that has been shown to help prevent or treat multiple medical conditions including migraines. Check with your healthcare provider before using melatonin, as it could interfere with blood sugar in diabetics, as well as, meds for high blood pressure. It could also make depression worse. Usual dosages range from .03-5.0mg to promote sleep, with doses between 1-3mg being most common.
What is your routine two to three hours prior to bedtime?
Are you literally wired? If you are on your computer, tablet, phone, reading device, or watching TV within a couple of hours of hitting the sack, you are possibly contributing to your sleepless nights. Those lights that are being emitted from these devices are tricking your brain into thinking it is still daylight, which in turn, blocks melatonin from doing its job of making you tired and sleepy. It is best to make the two hours before bedtime a tech-free zone and instead create a relaxing ritual, such as reading a book, taking a bath or journaling.
The fact remains, if you change nothing, nothing changes. Since you are reading this, you may be one of the millions of perimenopausal and post-menopausal women experiencing (and suffering from) insomnia, sleep disruption and daily fatigue. Why not incorporate a few of these simple lifestyle tweaks and see where those ZZZ’s take you. No more counting sheep.
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About the Author:
As a post-menopausal woman herself, Lorraine Miano discovered her passion of offering menopause advocacy, support and resources to women in all phases of menopause through health coaching, proper nutrition and preventive lifestyle choices. She received her certifications as a Health Coach and hormone health expert from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has been able to help even more women by writing and publishing her first book, The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back!
Lorraine loves to encourage her clients with her mantra “Menopause is NOT an ending! IT IS a new beginning!” When she’s not advocating for “the change”, you can find Lorraine traveling with her husband Richard, quite often to visit her 5 grandchildren who call her “Nonni”.