You may have noticed that your sleep quality is starting to suffer as you go through perimenopause. Naturally, you may have had times of sleep disturbance in the past if you’ve had children (or animals, or snoring partners).
In perimenopause, sleep issues can happen as a result of the fluctuation and ultimate decline of oestrogen and progesterone, both of which play a key role in our circadian rhythm and sleep quality. If you add night sweats to this, then chances are you’re struggling to get a good night.
Poor sleep makes us feel rubbish. It can also make us eat rubbish as well as having other far-reaching effects on our health.
So why do so many women in perimenopause still not make sleep a priority?
So many reasons and a few excuses!
- We’re too tired to get of the sofa and go to bed!
- Quite often we’re pushing all day long and then get a second wind later in the evening and use this time to ‘do stuff’.
- Or this is the only time we get to ‘do stuff’
- We’re juggling families and careers, and during lockdown this has meant literally at the same time!
- Maybe, we’re heading up to bed, but then using our devices to scroll through social media or watch TV in bed.
The issue is that this feeds into the cycle of poor sleep.
If we want to feel great and support our energy in perimenopause when our hormones are fluctuating, then prioritising sleep is arguably the most important thing we can do. There is enough going on with our hormones without making it worse with simple steps that are within our control.
Prioritising sleep means keeping a regular bedtime and wake time and planning sufficient time to have 7-8 hours sleep.
We then need to create the right environment to get better quality sleep and practice good sleep hygiene (a topic for another blog)
Let’s start by looking at why sleep is so important … and great in perimenopause
1. A good night’s sleep balances our stress hormone cortisol – If cortisol is out of whack it affects our energy production including thyroid function, and our sex hormones which means more hormone havoc (hot flushes, mood and energy swings) and even worse sleep. It’s the worst kind of cycle and who needs more stress?!
2. We make healthier food choices – If we sleep well, we produce less ghrelin, the hunger hormone. This means we snack less, have less carbohydrate cravings and we’re in a better position to make healthier food choices. It’s so hard to be on that blood sugar rollercoaster and trying to stop with willpower alone.
3. We keep the belly fat off – If we make better food choices, we in turn balance our blood sugar hormones and reduce the amount of insulin we produce. This means we’re not creating insulin resistance. This is where our cells become less responsive to insulin leading to higher blood sugar levels. Our pancreas responds by producing more insulin which is essentially a storage hormone and this can lead to weight gain, especially around the middle, and is a risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes. We tend towards insulin resistance when we go through perimenopause, so we don’t want to exacerbate this with poor sleep.
4. Our brains work better – We can think more clearly and quickly. Our memory is better and we can learn new things more easily. Dementia and Alzheimers are now the leading cause of death of women in the UK. We need to prioritise sleep to protect our brain health if we want to protect our cognitive function as we age.
5. We protect our immune systems – this allow us to effectively fight off viruses and bacterial infections.
6. We protect our cardiovascular systems. Cardiovascular disease is also one of leading causes of death in post-menopausal women
7. Our skin is clearer and brighter. We don’t need more eye bags!
8. When we prioritise sleep, we are prioritising our overall health. This has a positive effect on everyone around us. When we’re firing on all our cylinders, we’re more able to cope with stressors and to be able to fulfil all the roles we have as modern women.
This is the time to prioritise your health not just for now, but for your future.
How To Prioritise Sleep
1. Keep a regular bedtime and waking time – this will help create a healthy habit
2. Set an alarm to go to bed if find you ‘forget’ or get too involved in Netflix
3. Have an end of day routine that relaxes your body and mind and that you enjoy, even if that’s a short warm shower and your favourite body lotion. Something to look forward to that gets you in the bedroom!
4. Read the above – good sleep is about as close to a magic bullet for health in perimenopause as it’s possible to get. If that doesn’t resonate…..
Sleep is one of the key areas we consider in nutritional therapy because of its far reaching effects on our health. If you are struggling, please do get in touch to book a complementary Discovery Session to see how I might be able to help. Just email me on [email protected] or call 07909 732017