Menopause is a parade of physical discomforts, absurd hormonal changes and other assorted physical weirdness from a body we’ve spent a lifetime trying to shave, pluck, coif, diet and exercise into the condition we want. It’s a thousand little betrayals, the biological equivalent of mother nature pantsing us. Trying to keep your poise is even more difficult when menopause robs you of one of the most important aspects of a healthy day: sleep. Between hot flashes and waking up with your heart pounding, it can be hard to get a solid 8 hours of rest. So how do you counteract mother nature’s obnoxious sense of humor and clock the beauty sleep you need to make it through the day?
Make the Sleep you Get Count
Practice good sleep hygiene to cut down on potential distractions or anything else that can jeopardize your rest. Eliminate distractions, like TVs and other screens, in your bedroom. Charge your cell phone in another room to make a spontaneous stroll through Facebook more difficult. Don’t eat 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Avoid caffeine and nicotine as well. Make sure your bedroom is primed for sleep by making it a sleep (and sex) only zone. Evaluate your bed to ensure that it’s right for you — it’s comfortable, clean, and can keep you cool. As we age, our bodies change, so check to make sure your pillow and mattress are still suited to your needs, and what’s comfortable for you.
Stress can be a major problem for menopausal women. Hormonal shifts can take you on a rollercoaster ride, bringing the slightest stressors into meltdown territory. Stress management is important during menopause — it can impact your heart, your quality of life, and your sleep. The way that stress and poor sleep egg each other on makes for a vicious cycle of unhappiness and ugly crying. Try to make sure your stressors are in check to diminish the “I think I left the oven on” moments in the middle of the night. Take time to relax and unwind. Have fun. Engage the support of friends and family when you need it.
Consult Your Doctor
When all else fails, consult your doctor. There are plenty of treatments that can help with sleep. Your doctor will go through the options with you, including hormones and sleeping medication. Your doctor will likely want to discuss sleep hygiene, so expect her to bring up your diet soda and Facebook before bed habit. Women — especially menopausal women — have specific health concerns (like osteoporosis), so If you have any other ongoing health issues, or are concerned your inability to sleep is rooted in something else, bring it up! Ask questions whenever you need clarification or better understanding. Open communication with your doctor is an excellent tool for feeling and living better.
Do What Works for You
In the end, the most important thing is to do what works for you, no matter how silly it may seem. As the saying goes, if it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid. Do you get your best sleep with the heater cranked and your window open, even though it’s snowing? Do it. A glass of beer designed to relieve the side effects of menopause helps you doze off? Drink one! As long as you’re safe and healthy, nothing else matters.
The benefits to good sleep are numerous. With a good night’s rest you’ll keep your heart healthier, as well as look and feel better. You’ll have the fuel you need to not only make it through the worst menopause has to offer, but make it through with your sanity intact.