What I’d do for a good night of sleep! Remember when you could fall asleep with little worry to wake up refreshed and ready for the day. What happened? It’s pretty simple, really, biological conditions unique to women, like the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause, affect how well a woman sleeps. This is because the changing levels of hormones that a woman experiences throughout the month and over her lifetime, like estrogen and progesterone, have an impact on sleep. Understanding the effects of these hormones, environmental factors and lifestyle habits can help women enjoy a good night’s sleep.
If you are facing those sleepless nights, below are some tips that might help.Stick to a sleep schedule. We’ve all heard this one and it takes a lot of discipline to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Even on the weekends and holidays when you look forward to that ‘catch-up’ sleep. Experts tell us that being consistent reinforces our body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. However, they are also quick to remind us that if you don’t fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get and do something relaxing. Don’t agonize over falling asleep as that can make it even harder. Go back to bed when you’re tired.
What you eat and drink really matters. Don’t go to bed either hungry or stuffed as that discomfort might keep you up. If you are a late dinner eater, eat light as digestion takes longer for larger meals and will keep you awake longer so try and limit your portions.
- Limit how much you drink before bed to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet.
- The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine — which take hours to wear off — can wreak havoc with quality sleep. Staying away from caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and evening can really help. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
- And that bedtime snack might need to be a cup of tea instead of sweets. Sugar can keep you energized and unable to sleep. Try drinking chamomile or any decaffeinated beverage before bed to stimulate sleepiness.
- Consider a plant-based, high-fiber, low-fat diet, which has been shown to lower estrogen levels and control hot flashes.
- Create a healthy routine that includes melatonin-rich and sleep-promoting foods.(click here for a cheat sheet of foods to help you snooze) Or consider taking a melatonin supplement. Try .5 milligrams taken about 2 hours before bed. Melatonin helps signal your body that the sun has gone away it’s time to prepare for sleep.
- 40 milligrams of black cohosh (an herbal supplement) taken daily has been shown to help women get through menopause better.
- Be wary of using the TV or other electronic devices as part of your bedtime ritual. Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime will interfere with sleep.
- Consider your bedding and how it contributes to your comfort level. If you share a bed, make sure there’s room for you both. And with children or pets, you might need to set some limits on how often they sleep with you, etc.
- All those electronic gadgets we have in our rooms, think about where they are placed as they provide more light than we sometimes think. Light signals your brain that it is still day time and your body isn’t willing to produce the melatonin, your natural sleeping aid, to help you sleep.
- Think about some light stretching before bed. Stretching relaxes your muscles and works out those kinks and aches from the day. Ever notice the routine a cat goes through before sleeping?
- Treat yourself to comfy sleepwear.
- If you work nights, keep your window coverings closed so the daylight – which adjusts your internal clock – doesn’t interrupt your sleep. Consider room-darkening window coverings to help eliminate as much daylight as possible.
Limit daytime naps. Taking long daytime naps can mess up nighttime sleep – especially if you already struggle with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you need a nap during the day, limit it to about 10 to 30 minutes and make it during midafternoon.
Let’s get physical. Again, we know this, regular physical activity can promote better sleep, help to fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep as well as reducing stress. But, timing is important. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you might be too energized to fall asleep because of the adrenaline that kicks in during exercise. Try and exercise earlier in the day as it can help bring you energy for the day….and it’s done! (My trick or else it wouldn’t happen.)
Managing stress. Let’s face it, we all have so much to do in our day, way too much to think about and worry about. All of this can cause our sleep to suffer. Finding healthy ways to manage stress and restore peace to your life is really important to your overall wellbeing along with your sleep. Start with the simpler basics – getting organized, setting priorities, delegate tasks. Then, give yourself permission to take a break when you need to. Try a massage, lock yourself in the bathroom for a relaxing bath, share a good laugh with a friend, meditate. Remember you are important.
- Before bed, jot down what’s on your mind that needs to be done. Keep that pad by your bedside and if you awaken, write it down so you can go back to sleep.
Know when to contact your doctor
Getting the right amount of sleep is vital, but just as important is the quality of your sleep. Biological conditions unique to women, like the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause, can affect how well a woman sleeps. This is because the changing levels of hormones that a woman experiences throughout the month and over her lifetime, like estrogen and progesterone, have an impact on sleep. Understanding the effects of these hormones, environmental factors and lifestyle habits can help women enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.
**Compiled from various websites – sleepfoundation.org, mayoclinic.com, webmd.com, sleep.com, doctoroz.com
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