Foods that Support Good Sleep in Perimenopause
Sleep can be one of the first things that get shot to bits once we hit 40 and start heading through the perilous waters of perimenopause (transitional stage leading to menopause). The hormonal fluctuations we experience can have a range of effects on the body, including disruptions on our precious sleep.
A quick hormone look-see: oestrogen and progesterone play a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle, and which also influence sleep. So as they fluctuate wildly all over the place, that's when we can see our sleep suffer.
How your sleep may be affected by perimenopause crazed hormones:
Insomnia: Many women experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep during perimenopause. Hormonal imbalances can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle, making it challenging to get a good night's rest.
Hot flashes and night sweats: These common symptoms of perimenopause can be bothersome and disruptive to sleep. Hot flashes are sudden waves of heat that can cause sweating and discomfort, often waking women up during the night. These can help reduce hot flashes and night sweats.
Mood changes: Hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause can also contribute to mood swings, anxiety, and irritability, which can make it harder to relax and fall asleep. Take these to help stabilise mood swings
Sleep apnea: Though not directly caused by perimenopause, hormonal changes can increase the risk of developing sleep apnea, a condition characterised by breathing interruptions during sleep. Sleep apnea can further disrupt sleep quality and lead to daytime fatigue.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS): Some women may experience RLS during perimenopause, which is characterised by uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. This condition can interfere with falling asleep or staying asleep.
Foods That Promote a Good Night's Sleep
Certain foods can promote a good night's sleep by providing nutrients that support relaxation and the production of sleep-inducing hormones. Here are some foods that are known to help promote a great sleep:
Kiwis: Kiwis are rich in serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Consuming a yummy kiwi before bed has been shown to improve getting to sleep and how long you stay asleep for.
Cherries: Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Drinking tart cherry juice or eating a handful of cherries can increase melatonin levels and promote better sleep.
Bananas: Bananas are a great source of potassium and magnesium, which help relax muscles and promote sleep. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that gets converted into serotonin and melatonin.
Almonds: Almonds are rich in magnesium, which can help improve sleep quality. They also provide protein and healthy fats that help stabilise blood sugar levels throughout the night, reducing the likelihood of sleep disruptions.
Fatty fish: Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with improved sleep. These fish also contain vitamin D, which can enhance the production of serotonin in the brain.
Herbal teas: Certain herbal teas, such as chamomile, valerian root, and lavender, have calming properties that can promote relaxation and better sleep. Avoid teas with caffeine, such as green tea or black tea, as they can interfere with sleep.
Whole grains: Whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice have a high glycemic index, which can promote the release of tryptophan in the brain. This can help induce sleepiness and improve sleep quality.
Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains small amounts of serotonin and magnesium, which can help relax the body and mind before bedtime. Opt for dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (70% or more) and consume it in moderation.
SheBANG! Peri Chai Latte and Peri Hot Choccy: Both these cuppas both contain magnesium glycinate which helps improve sleep quality and promotes relaxation. The Peri Hot Choccy also contains Hops which has traditionally been taken as a sleep aid as it has compounds that can help promote relaxation and induce sleepiness.
It's worth noting that individual responses to these foods may vary, and it's best to listen to your body and determine which foods work best for you. Maintain a balanced diet because nutritional deficiencies can also affect sleep quality.
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Dinner Ideas for a Better Night's Sleep
When it comes to promoting a better night's sleep through dinner, it's generally recommended to opt for a balanced meal that includes foods rich in sleep-supportive nutrients. Here are some dinner ideas that incorporate ingredients known to promote better sleep:
Grilled salmon with quinoa and steamed vegetables: This meal combines fatty fish like salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, with quinoa, a complex carbohydrate that supports tryptophan production. Add a side of steamed vegetables like broccoli or spinach for added nutrients.
Turkey stir-fry with brown rice: Turkey is a great source of tryptophan, which can aid in sleep. Create a colourful stir-fry using lean turkey breast, a variety of vegetables like capsicums, carrots, and sugar snap peas, and serve it over brown rice.
Spinach and chickpea salad with grilled chicken: Create a nutrient-packed salad using fresh spinach, chickpeas, and grilled chicken. Spinach contains magnesium, while chickpeas provide protein and tryptophan. Ramp up the flavour with a lovely vinaigrette dressing.
Baked sweet potato with black beans and avocado: Sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium, and they have a naturally sweet taste. Top a baked sweet potato with black beans, avocado slices, and a sprinkle of herbs for a satisfying and sleep-friendly dinner.
Lentil curry with brown rice: Lentils are rich in iron, protein, and fibre. Prepare a delish lentil curry using spices like turmeric, cumin, and ginger. Serve it over brown rice for a wholesome and satisfying meal.
Veggie omelet with whole-grain toast: Whip up a vegetable-filled omelet using ingredients like spinach, mushrooms, and capsicums. Eggs provide tryptophan and protein, while whole-grain toast adds complex carbohydrates to support sleep.
Remember to keep portion sizes moderate, avoid heavy or spicy meals close to bedtime, and listen to your body's individual needs and preferences. It's also beneficial to eat dinner a few hours before bedtime to allow for digestion. If you have specific dietary restrictions or preferences, feel free to adapt these ideas to suit your needs.
It's important to note that nutrients alone may not solve sleep issues, and maintaining a balanced diet, good sleep hygiene practices, and managing stress are also crucial for quality sleep.
If you have persistent sleep problems, have a chat with your GP.