My cats, Princess and Po, don’t have any trouble sleeping. Their mistress cannot claim the same. When Perimenopause first came to live at my house, my biggest complaint wasn’t hot flashes or moodswing. Insomnia topped my list of ohmigods.
All my life, I’d been a good sleeper, dropping off for seven or eight hours of deep restful zzzz’s every night. Suddenly I was waking every hour, listening to the clock tick or my husband breathing. After a week of fitful half-sleep, I was a basket case. I tried everything: white noise machines, hot milk before bed, Sominex, long bouts of computer solitaire. And midday naps, when nothing else worked.
Thankfully, I am once again able to sleep through most nights, only occasionally becoming reacquainted with wee hours wakefulness. But there are a few simple measures that might help my nocturnally-challenged goddess sisters.
These inexpensive little devices cut out most annoying noises so that when we find ourselves awake, we aren’t necessarily KEPT awake. Some goddesses can’t tolerate them, but I wouldn’t make it without them. (See "Menopause Annoise Us" blog entry dated 9/12/07 for why this is so.)
The teeniest little emission of light from the phone console or a nightlight can disrupt sleep for some of us. (Including yours truly.) I’ve found wearing a face mask to be almost as conducive to a good night’s rest as earplugs. The only problem is that sometimes they are HOT, which doesn’t work.
Limit Caffeine Near Bedtime
Some goddesses can imbibe fully leaded coffee or tea right up until time to turn in. I envy them. The rest of us have a cutoff time, after which our favorite caffeinated treats will pump us up way too much to sleep or will wake us after only a few hours. It’s a good idea to find your optimal cutoff time and stick to it. (Mine is no caffeine after 7pm.)
Easy on the Alcohol
If you are like most of us Venuses, you like an occasional glass of wine (or other favorite alcohol laced concoction.). Sadly, we have made a midlife discovery. One glass of wine relaxes us gently and we sleep well. However, two or more glasses may cause us to wake after just a few hours, too wired to go back to sleep. So we try to stick to our optimal alcohol amount if we want a full night’s sleep. Of course, during our annual gathering, we throw caution to the winds and money at the wine store.
A relatively recent issue of AARP magazine (Mar. – April 2007) had a few more hints for wakeful goddesses:
Fed Not Full
Don’t go to bed hungry – eat a couple of crackers. On the flip side, don’t eat a heavy meal just before retiring. (Makes sense.)
Daytime snoozes can keep you up at night. (Hmmmmmm.)
Use Bedroom Only For Sleeping
Sounds like a great idea, but we just added on a new big bedroom where I also write, read, dance, and generally live, so that won’t happen at my house.
Soft Comfortable Bedding
This is a no-brainer. Even if we can’t sleep, at least we can toss and turn in 800 thread count comfort.
Lull Yourself Back to Sleep
If you can’t drift to sleep after 20 minutes of restlessness, get up and do something quiet, author Susan Roberts recommends.
Some of the Venuses read or play endless games of computer solitaire. Others prefer to do something productive; actually crossing things off their to-do list till their eyelids become droopy. Next time you find yourself awake when you ought to be asleep, notice what works or doesn’t in regaining your rest, and let your sister goddesses know by leaving a "Comment".
In the meantime, we wish you all sweet dreams and blissful nights of uninterrupted slumber.