Poor sleep is one of the most common complaints of midlife women - over half of all women will experience it! Often, women find themselves in an endless loop of poor sleep, fatigue, worsening mood, irritability, and brain fog. Add night sweats to the mix, and achieving restorative sleep can feel nearly impossible. Although there are medication options available, the good news is that there are many behavioral changes that you can make today that can help get you on the path to better sleep.
1. Set a regular sleep schedule - go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
This will help your body’s circadian rhythm to regulate, helping you sleep well and feel more rested during the day.
2. Develop a bedtime routine.
Our bodies are creatures of habit - Repeating the same routine before bed can signal to your body and mind that it is time to wind down for the day.
3. Keep your bedroom free of distractions and things that cause stress, such as work.
Having these stressful reminders near the bed can keep your mind racing instead of resetting.
4. Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
Again - it's all about routine!
5. Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
Stimulate the ideal sleeping environment with fans, black-out shades, and eye masks.
6. Do not nap during the day.
Especially avoid naps longer than 1 hour or afternoon naps. Even though it may sound enticing, naps confuse your body’s natural rhythm and make it more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime.
7. Utilize white noise in your bedroom.
Fans or sound machines can help to drone out audio distractions, helping your mind relax.
8. Do not force sleep.
If you cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes - get out of bed and go into another room to do a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy - yoga, stretching, or reading. Do not do “reward” activities such as balancing a checkbook, watching TV, or doing house chores.
9. Avoid screens at least one hour before bedtime.
Phones, computers, television, or tablets can make falling asleep more difficult due to stimulation from the screen.
10. Avoid checking the time if waking throughout the night.
As tempting as it is to look at your clock, checking the time can make you more anxious! Instead, try journaling during this time to help ease your mind.
11. Decrease caffeine and avoid caffeine after lunch.
Ingesting caffeine earlier in the day allows your body more time to process the caffeine before bedtime and avoid late-night bathroom trips.
12. Avoid alcohol at bedtime.
Although alcohol can make falling asleep easier for some women, it can make staying asleep even harder. Even if you get 7 hours of sleep or more, you may not feel well-rested after drinking alcohol.
13. Get regular exercise throughout the day.
Stay active but avoid vigorous exercise 2 hours prior to bedtime. Taking a walk outdoors is a great habit to have - the fresh air can be calming and sunlight helps to regulate our body’s internal clock.
14. Do not smoke, especially in the afternoon and evening.
Nicotine is a stimulant (think coffee), which can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
15. Eat a filling, nutritious dinner early in the evening and avoid late-night snacking.
Having an active digestive system may make it difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep and may trigger indigestion. Aim to stop eating 2-3 hours before bed.
Consistent, restorative sleep is crucial to you feeling your best. Sometimes lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough. Certified menopause specialists, like the providers at MyMenopauseRx, can help get to the root cause of your hormone-related sleep issues and come up with a treatment plan tailored to you.