How do sweat-inducing hot flashes, muffin-top expansion, lethargy and insomnia sound? The aforementioned doesn’t sound too appealing, however, to many women, this is the reality of the oft-abhorred “midlife transition.” But, many of these side effects can be remedied. Many women find this transition to be fulfilling, a chance to start out on a new adventure and seize the day, so to speak. At Sound Sleep Institute, we have a deep-seated passion for sleep. Sleep hygiene, we understand, is considered to be taboo by many in the fast paced world we live in. But there does come a point in all of our lives in which we must assess the importance of our sleep routine, and for those going through menopause, what better time? Don’t let menopause cause upheaval in your life and rob you of the restorative sleep you need.
Hormone fluctuations are the culprit to those pesky hot flashes. Hot flashes and night sweats can wake you out of a peaceful sleep, only to leave you lying there in bed unable to nod back to your slumber. According to a 2007 National Sleep Foundation survey, nearly half of women between the ages of 45 and 64 say they have trouble sleeping. The good news is that those reprehensible hot flashes can be held in check. A mixture of herbs and supplements, exercise and dietary changes can have you sleeping like you did before, if not better than when menopause began.
Bedtime snacks including peanut butter on toast, small servings of yogurt and fruit can trigger tryptophan production, inducing more serotonin to help your body relax. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol at least three hours before your bedtime will also give you a better chance at sleeping through the whole night while staving off night sweats. Numerous women report weight gain in their midsection during menopause, an area where they normally didn’t carry much fat before. As estrogen and progesterone levels in your body drop, your body gradually stops storing fat in your hips, thighs and butt, where fat cells have estrogen receptors, and starts packing in the least flattering spot ever, your gut! Change up your diet! Eat more lean protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates and reduce the amount of refined sugars you intake.
Exercise is also very beneficial. Regular exercisers, especially those that partake in vigorous exercise such has higher paced cardio and weight training at least three days a week, report better sleep than those who are primarily sedentary. As you get older, maintaining muscle mass becomes critical for both maintenance of a healthy body weight and your overall health.
You don’t have to be a slave to hot flashes and night sweats. A recent study had shown 2mg of sustained release melatonin taken 1 hour before bedtime helped participants fall asleep and maintain their sleep throughout the night. Adaptogens, substances that help your body deal with stressors, decrease cortisol and stabilize estrogen fluctuations. Herbs such as rhodiola, ashwandha and black cohosh have been known to reduce hot flashes and improve sleep.