I’ve been thinking about blogging about this topic for a long while now, as since last year, my sleep (or lack of it!) has really wound me up!
Do you get enough? Do you wake up refreshed and ready to start the day?
Back In The Day
In times gone by, I used to have a lovely amount of sleep. I was a light sleeper, but I would always be able to go back to sleep. I used to have lovely lie in’s too.
And then I hit my 40’s, things changed, and I’m still coming to terms with my sleep issues!
I wake up at stupid o’clock most mornings!
I just can’t stop waking up between 4am and 5am. But why?
They say as you get older you need less sleep, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen already!
According to http://www.sleepfoundation.org, adults between 18-64 need 7-9 hours sleep, and it’s not until we reach 65+ that we only need 7-8 hours. So why am I struggling to stay asleep most mornings?
Hormones Have Alot to Answer For!
I do think my lack of sleep is due to my hormones fluctuating in preparation for the peri-menopause / menopause. It seems that quite a few of my friends of similar age are also experiencing this too.
I wasn’t aware of the reason, until I began researching this topic, that progesterone is a sleep producing hormone, and oestrogen is a sleep maintaining hormone. These hormones decrease during the menopausal years, which is why so many women of a certain age are struggling.
Unfortunately, it then becomes a bit chicken and egg like; hormone imbalances may cause sleep issues, which can then worsen hormone imbalances, as the body needs sleep for the hormones to function as they should. And the cycle continues.
According to BodyLogicMD, “sleeping less than you need affects at least 10 different hormones, causing them to shift and disrupt appetite, fertility, mental health as well as cardiac health. Sleep is essential to maintain proper hormone balance and health”.
Other insomnia Causes
- Mental Health conditions such as anxiety and depression
- Using technology which emits a blue light before bedtime
- Poor Diet – drinking stimulants such as alcohol, tea and coffee and eating late at night. Alcohol also prevents deep stages of restorative sleep
- Lack of exercise -exercise helps relieve stress and helps also with sleep
- A room too hot, or uncomfortable bed or pillows
- Age – it is suggested that the over 60’s are affected most due to natural changes in your body’s sleep cycle
- Smoking – another stimulant
Issues with Not Sleeping
Not sleeping can cause a whole host of issues, including:
- Higher rates of obesity – when you don’t get enough sleep your leptin levels go down. Leptin is the hormone that helps you feel satisfied and stop eating. Your ghrelin levels also go up which is the hormone that stimulates your appetite – info from https://startsleeping.org)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Higher rates of depression and anxiety
- Poor mood, motivation and energy
- Decreased memory, focus and decision making
- Decreased co-ordination and higher rates of accidents
- Irritability and unable to handle stress as well
- Lowered immune function including getting frequent colds
Plus a lack of sleep may be linked to a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. According to a small study carried out, losing just one night of sleep led to an increase in a protein found in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s and impaired brain function (info from http://www.nih.gov).
Unfortunately, one of the websites I looked at whilst researching this, suggested medications such as HRT, the Pill or low dose anti-depressants to balance your hormones, if lack of sleep is due to peri-menopause or menopause. I personally believe that these should be used as a last resort, when everything else has been tried and tested.
There are so many natural alternatives for help with sleep that can be tried first, including:
- Herbs such as Skullcap, Passion Flower, Lime Flower, Gotu Kola, Ashwagandha, Lavender and Valerian. These can be taken as a herbal tea or tincture or made into an infusion and added to a relaxing bath. I have been using Skullcap tincture with good results and am now trying a combination of Passion Flower and Lime Flower, as Skullcap was out of stock at work. I have also made what I called my herbal bath bags with some of these herbs too, and have made infusions (these are great fun to make!)
- Supplements such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Calcium with Magnesium and Zinc. I have just bought a Vitamin B complex to try myself
- Essential oils such as Lavender, Frankincense, Bergamot, Neroli and Roman Chamomile. These can be added to relaxing baths or diffused into the room, or added to a carrier oil and used in massage. I have essential oils and diffusers available on my website: https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/Trudylee/area/shop-online/category/aromatherapy/
- Flower Remedies such as Bush Flower Calm and Clear and Bach Flower Unwind blend
- Homeopathic Remedies such as Valeriana and Passiflora
* I am not a qualified herbalist or aromatherapist so the suggestions above are purely options, not me making a diagnosis and treatment plan. Please consult your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a long term illness or are on other medications. Or please seek out a herbalist or aromatherapist (we have both of these in the Neal’s Yard Norwich shop and I am sure in our other shops too around the country).
I also shared in last week’s blog when I travelled to London the mini kit I bought to help me sleep and relax. This mini kit is from my Neal’s Yard website and is part of the Christmas gift line called “Prepare for Bed” https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/Trudylee/area/shop-online/category/christmas-gifts/product/8901/prepare-for-bed-night-time-gift/. (It can also be bought as full size products throughout the year).
I think regardless of if my sleep issues are hormonal or not, I perhaps need to accept that my body clock has changed. Rather than fighting against it, and getting annoyed at the issue, perhaps its time to change my sleeping times so that I don’t wake up so early.
I would absolutely love to have a lie in, but I am also finding that if on the rare occasion I have managed to go back to sleep, I wake up not feeling refreshed at all, but rather groggy. I also have to be mindful as well that a change in sleeping habits can cause a migraine (something I have suffered with quite badly in the past).
Simple Changes for a Better Nights Sleep
- Develop a good bed time routine
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Remove distractions or anything from the bedroom that could potentially disturb you (including pets and the TV)
- Avoiding technology 90 mins before going to bed. This means your brain isn’t exposed to blue light. Blue light tells your brain to be active and blocks the production of melatonin, the “sleep hormone”.
- Reduce caffeine and sugar in the evening
- Don’t go to bed on a full stomach
- Relax before going to bed – ie no working until bedtime!
- Reduce stress in your life
So how do you sleep? I’d love to hear in the comments and of anything you’ve tried with great results.
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Have a fab week x