Insomnia: Top Tips
Updated: Mar 25
For women transitioning into menopause, sleep problems are often par for the course. In fact, approximately 61 percent of women who are menopausal experience frequent bouts of insomnia.
Going through menopause can affect your sleep cycle on three different levels.
Your oestrogen and progesterone levels decrease during menopause. This can trigger a number of changes in your lifestyle, particularly in your sleeping habits. This is partly because progesterone is a sleep-producing hormone. While your body copes with these dwindling hormone levels, you may find it harder to fall asleep and more difficult to stay asleep.
Hot flushes and night sweats are two of the most common side effects of menopause. As your hormone levels fluctuate, you may feel as if you’re having sudden surges and drops in your body temperature.
You’re actually experiencing a surge of adrenaline that’s caused by the rapid decrease of hormones. This is the same chemical responsible for your reaction to stress or a fight-or-flight scenario. Your body may have a hard time recovering from this sudden surge of energy, making it difficult for you to fall back asleep.
Just as natural chemical and hormonal changes can interfere with sleep, so can changes caused by any medicines or supplements you’re taking. Sleep disturbance is a side effect for many medications, so if you’re beginning a new medicine or using an over-the-counter supplement, that may contribute to your insomnia.
Here are our top tips on how to manage insomnia naturally:
Try and get some exercise during the day or early evening
Establish a bedtime routine. Decide what time you are going to go to bed and spend at least an hour winding down before that time. Tell yourself that you are preparing for a good night’s sleep
Have a drink of milk and a banana about half an hour before going to bed, and if you tend to wake up in the early hours, have biscuit as well
Consider a course of self-hypnosis which has been proven to increase deep sleep by 80%, you can pre-register for our programmes here
Ensure that your bedroom is cool enough and that if there is light coming in from outside, that you fit blackout blinds
Give yourself time to settle down in bed, and keep a pen and paper beside the bed so that if you keep remembering tasks to do the next day you can write them down immediately. This will let your brain ‘switch off’ from work
Try a herbal mixture for sleep, such as Calms, or melatonin providing you have no contraindications to the herbs and are not taking other medication
When you are in bed and ready to sleep, try counting back in threes from 1000, your brain will get bored and want to sleep instead
Try not to exercise late at night, you will be overstimulated and not sleep well
Avoid drinking caffeine where possible. Caffeine is a stimulant and diuretic with a half-life of six hours so it will not allow you to sleep well. Remember that Green Tea, Cola's, and chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) also contain caffeine
Stay off your computer, text, or phone people in the evening during your sleep preparation time, the blue light has been proven to stimulate your brain and prevent sleep
Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep. You need to train your brain to recognise that bed is for sleeping and sex, not for being awake. If you are not asleep in half an hour, get up, and sit in the lounge wrapped up warmly. Do something dull such as reading a very dull book. The new habit of sleeping through the night will soon establish itself
If you share your bed with a regular partner consider getting two single duvets rather than one larger one
Invest in moisture-wicking sleepwear such as those found at Become