I see you there, contemplating the ceiling fan and about ready to sell your soul in order to get to sleep tonight.
Is there anything more frustrating than not being able to fall asleep, especially after a long day of running around after everyone else?
Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds.
Why aren’t you sleeping?
Maybe you’re crashing and burning in the mid-afternoon, going through the motions during dinner and counting the minutes until bedtime.
At a reasonable bedtime hour, you scrape yourself off the couch and start getting ready for bed. You just give the benches a quick wipe while you brush your teeth.
The second wind hits and suddenly you find yourself vacuuming the curtains at 11pm. You finally hop into bed, shut your eyes… and start creating a mental checklist of everything you need to do tomorrow.
The secret to ending this nightmare (pun intended) and cruising from the couch into a blissful shut-eye?
Respect the routine.
Good sleep (like sex) is all about foreplay.
What can you do in the hours leading up to sleep, to best guarantee success?
Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.
Conquer the second wind
If you’re struggling to wind down in the evenings, it’s probably due to a last minute surge in stress hormones like cortisol.
Fluctuating cortisol during peri-menopause is a huge driver behind symptoms like insomnia and night sweats.
Help settle your body and mind for sleep by:
- Dimming the lights after sundown, opting for candles, salt lamps or lamps with warm (red/orange) light bulbs to avoid artificial and blue light
- Take a warm (not hot) bath or shower with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Warm water helps to drop your core body temperature which promotes sleep hormone release
- Choose to read a book instead of watching TV to avoid over-stimulation from screen use (and reality TV drama)
- Go for a walk outside at dusk – getting natural light in the early morning and early evening helps to regulate your circadian rhythm
- Clear your mind before bed and write down those unfinished tasks on your mental to-do list. Keep a journal by your bed and jot down anything that comes to you as you are trying to wind down for sleep
- Sip some herbal tea to help calm and soothe your nervous system before bed. Herbal teas are great for helping to hit pause on your busy mind chatter. Check out my online shop for Zen Glow which is my fave. Or read this blog to find some recipes and make your own.
Balance your blood sugar levels
This goes hand-in-hand in managing those evening hormones. Having your blood sugar peaking and crashing in the evening is a poor recipe for sleep. The inevitable crash after a carb-rich dinner and sugary dessert will lead to a release of stress hormone that will either delay your sleep onset, or wake you in the early hours.
- Eat a balanced dinner that includes a source of protein and healthy fats as well as complex carbohydrates from vegetables, brown rice and the like
- Avoid desserts that are high in refined sugar – choose seasonal fruit, some full-cream plain/natural/greek yoghurt with nuts and seeds
- Avoid eating late in the evening – have dinner 3-4 hours before bed time
- I’m not a fan of snacks, but if you wake feeling hungry over night, or eat super early in the evening, you may need to include a protein supper in your nightly routine. This might look like 20g of cheese, 10 almonds, a serve of unsweetened yoghurt or nut butter on a seedy cracker. The protein and fat will help stabilise your blood sugar in the hour before bedtime and help prevent early morning wake ups from hunger
sleep better by Getting your bedroom right
It’s all about the setting! As animals you’re highly attuned to your environment. Set up your sleep space as a safe, comfortable and relaxing nest.
- Open your bedroom windows and make sure the room is well ventilated
- Unplug the TV in your bedroom – your bedroom is not a cinema
- Create a sanctuary – going to bed shouldn’t stress you out. Invest in a more comfortable mattress, pillows and bed linen if needed. You do spend a LOT of time in bed after all
- Experiment with an eye mask and earplugs if you find yourself disturbed by light or noise
- Try to keep the bedroom uncluttered – keep your bed clear of clothes and books. The bed is for two things – sleep and you know what
- Switch your phone off, or at least put it in ‘flight mode’ to reduce electromagnetic fields near your brain while you’re sleeping
- Same deal with your electronic alarm clock. Plug it in across the room, or switch to a battery powered one to reduce the EMF near your brain
A note on caffeine
Caffeine blocks the uptake of sleep hormone in your brain. There’s no way around that fact.
If you’re having trouble dropping off to sleep, avoid caffeine after around 1pm (latest!). That includes caffeine from coffee, tea, energy drinks, soft drinks and for some sensitive folks, even chocolate. I know that last one may hit hard and I’m sorry, truly. You might need to switch your dark chocolate to earlier in the day.
Try not to panic if you can’t sleep. If you find yourself lying there:
- Get up and go and read a book in another room for twenty minutes
- Try a sleep meditation on YouTube or look for some guided breathing exercises to do
- Listen to an audiobook while you rest. This gives your brain something to chew on while you rest
Remember, even if you’re not asleep, you’re comfortable and resting and that’s still beneficial for your body and mind.
Still not sleeping better?
These measures are really foundational, however there are a number of foods, herbs and nutrients that can be the difference between insomnia and great sleep!
Eating the right foods for YOUR body makes a huge difference to sleeping better. Working out the right foods for your body can be really hard. I can help make this process easier for you, with a personalised nutrition plan developed based on your blood biochemistry.
If you’d like tailored support to help you overcome your sleep issues, and master changing hormones and chaotic mood swings, then please book a free discovery call here. Discovery calls are an opportunity for you to tell me about your biggest health struggles, and if you’re a good candidate for my program, you’ll learn how I may support you to feel calm, in-control and less stressed in your 40s, to make it to menopause without it ruining your life.