My cats, Frankie 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.
AARP magazine (Mar. – April 2007) came up with 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 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.
OK, this may sound a little airy-fairy, but it works for me. A couple of years ago, I heard Andrew Weil speak on wellness. He suggested a nice, little exercise that I have incorporated just before sleep and when I first wake up, but I also use it when I’m tossing and turning in the middle of the night for no good reason.
His suggestion: Take a very deep breath and hold it for 5 seconds while you visualize something you want to manifest in reality or something you want to heal. Then release the breath fully. Wait for 10 seconds, and do it again (5 times). I’m also doing a kegel at the same time – why not? Have helped heal friends with cancer, as well as my own sorry maladies. Gets you right to sleep.
I absolutely agree about the face mask! It cannot be dark enough in my room when I go to sleep. I would not be without my ice-packs wrapped in hand-towels, and I wear light clothes to bed – boxers and tanks.
I have wakened up on occasion with so much sweat behind my legs that I need to towel them off. That is just no fun!
If I absolutely cannot sleep, I get up and switch beds to the spare room where it is quiet, dark and I can toss and turn if need be without disturbing my husband. Either that, or I get up and write a poem – sometimes it’s the poem that’s keeping me awake, so if I get something written – even on the computer, usually my brain shuts down afterwards.
There is a downside to wearing eye pads and earplugs – at least in regards to having a roommate that wears these items. They can sleep blissfully through drama going on within feet of their bed. But then again, isn’t that the point:)
i use my ipod, and listen to audio books, i only listen to happily ever after books….. the other stuff is for when i want to be awake! My love can continue to sleep , no lights on and i can just ditch it when i am ready to fall asleep!
Good post Lynette!
I recite a specific mantra that I have memorized that I like as many times as I need, or visualize myself relaxing with breathing “exercises” where I consciously get my head and neck to relax [from yoga and practicing “corpse” pose], or offer myself Reiki, or sometimes I’ll give it up and crack open a novel! Eye coverings and earplugs don’t work that well for me, but I do try to keep it as dark as possible in my bedroom at night, which does help. Not staying up too late also helps. I agree also with the not-too-much alcohol or food close to bedtime.
I am horrible with lack of sleep so I starting taking Femivital which has been life saver to me. It is an all-natural estrogen supplement and I have seen a huge decrease in my menopause symptoms.
I get it online from a company called Doctor’s Natural. I would definitely recommend it to anyone suffering from menopause.
Light in the room also comes from little bitty blue lights on the thermostat (digital), on my alarm clock with ALARMing big bright letters (I turn that away from me so I can’t see that it’s 3 am and I’m wide awake); there has been scientific studies done about the link between night time light, our pineal gland and breast cancer. It is very disturbing to female hormonal system to have any false “moonlight” on in our bedrooms. So having a black-out opaque curtain is very helpful, as are all the suggestions mentioned above. I found a tincture of motherwort helped me with anxiety, which also helped with sleep improvement. But now that I am past menopause and my teens no longer live at home, my sleep is vastly improved. If I could only get the fridge to stop beeping at 2 am freaking out my shitzu, my sleep would be perfect!
jenn aka Musemother
Coffee sometime work and sometime don’t work for me. There are time that when I drink it, I can still sleep and there are times that I cannot sleep but for only few hours maybe 3 or 4. It is hard for me to sleep when I am not comfortable especially during traveling, I envy others who can sleep at their own chair while at the bus or at the plane.