How is Your Sleep in Perimenopause?

It's likely you are responding shaking your head, maybe even head in hands - that your sleep absolutely sucks.

We often hear for many perimenopausal women sleep gets somewhat wrecked during these years of transition (the perimenopause) to menopause (a point in time - 12 months of no period).

An unhappy fact you may not know: Sleep disturbances are the second most common symptom of perimenopause.

You might find it difficult to get to sleep, stay asleep or the joyous combination of both.

40 to 60% of women get insomnia during perimenopause and menopause.

And that really sucks - sleep deprivation is the #1 form of torture in the world so we absolutely don't underestimate how hard everything gets when you haven't had a good night sleep.  We send big hugs to you.

Making Sleep a Priority in Perimenopause

Focusing on getting a better night sleep is a significant factor in improving:

  • Energy levels
  • Mental health
  • Abilty to function as you need to
  • Relationships
  • Mood and
  • Keeping your perimenopausal symptoms in check!

Poor sleep is a risk factor for:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes and
  • Obesity.

A lack of sleep also increases inflammation in our bodies and weakens our immune system.

In perimenopause we're already in a pro-inflammatory state (causing a mountain of symptoms), so it’s important to aim to reduce anything that makes this worse.

OKAY! FINE!  But HOW Do I Get Good Sleep in Perimenopause??

We can all agree that sleep needs to be a priority in perimenopause - okay, great!

We all want a great night's sleep but I just can't get it so where do I even start?

How do I prioritise it?

Like anything: by making time for it.

We all lead such busy lives with so many commitments; work, family, friends, kids and animals.  Bloody hell, the list is endless, so we tend to stay up late to get things DONE. 

Or, we might be too wired to wind down after a super hectic day, or we're winding down by scrolling on our phones in bed or watching of Bridgerton.    

We know what we do....

Often, it's only after the household is asleep/shut down that we have a bit of time to ourselves and we want to make the most of it.

And fair enough too! Life's crazy...

But along with all the other priorities on our to-do list, one thing peri teaches us is that, after all these years, now is the time when we need to put ourselves at the very top of the eternal to-do list.

We need to seriously consider making the time to wind down and properly relax from our day in the ways our bodies (and brains) desperately need.

No, doom scrolling ain't it...

The Great Sleep Checklist (According to Science)

Perimenopause is a time for a little bit of self-parenting and especially so around sleep.

To help you out, here's s a little checklist of rituals you could consider sticking to (that science says works):

  • No screens an hour before bed
  • No exercise right before bed
  • Make sure your room is dark (no little electronic lights, or light from outside)
  • Get the temperature right if you can (doctors recommend temperature of your room should be between 16-20 degrees celsius)
  • Keep bedtime to the same time every night
  • Do something lovely and relaxing before bed: a warm lavender bath, hot shower (if it's not warm outside) or read a book, do some breathing exercises, or a little guided meditation (we like the Calm app meditations)
  • Have a magnesium loaded hot drink an hour before bed. Our Peri Chai Latte works an absolute treat. Read the reviews here or our Peri Hot Choccy with magnesium and hops.
  • Is your room a space in which you feel relaxed?  

Perimenopause can mean that, no matter what you do, you might not get a perfect night's sleep every night but that’s OK.

The most important thing is to accept that it might not be perfect and surrender to what it is.  We know what it's like waking up in the middle of the night and laying there stressing about not being able to sleep.

And yes, you've guessed it: stress makes everything a thousand times worse.

How Does Good Sleep Help Other Perimenopause Symptoms

A good night sleep can:

  • Improve Mental Health. If you're able to get a good night sleep, it will go a long way in helping to manage your mental health. Sleep will help reduce brain fog, low mood, anxiety, depression, and help improve cognition.

  • Improve Mood. If we are well rested we are less likely to snap and be a grumpy bum with the people around us.

  • Reduce Fatigue. No brainer - better sleep = more energy and reduction in peri fatigue.

  • Increase Libido. Did you know that, according to research from the International Society of Sexual Medicine, women with partners have a higher libido after a good night's sleep? You know yourself when you are tired a good night sleep trumps sex every.single.time. 

Why Has My Sleep Changed During Perimenopause?

During perimenopause there's a lot going on: changes to our sleep commonly  being one of them.  There are a few reasons, including:

  • The hypothalamus, a small structure deep inside your brain, contains groups of nerve cells that acts as a sleep control centre controlling your sleep.  During perimenopause, thanks to a drop in progesterone and estradiol levels, the nerves start acting differently.

  • High histamine during the high-estrogen stage of perimenopause. Oestrogen and histamine increase each other, so when we have high levels of histamine that will in turn stimulate oestrogen production, and so on and so forth.   All very annoying.  This can turn into a vicious cycle. It's this crazy cycle that can lead to a range of symptoms associated with high histamine in perimenopause including: hay fever, eczema, hives, asthma and yep, you guessed it, exacerbate sleep issues.

  • Reduction of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone primarily released by the pineal gland in our brain at night, controlling our sleep and wake cycle. As we age melatonin reduces it's also affected by the changes in our hormone levels during perimenopause.

  • Changes in our circadian rhythm due to drop in estradiol.

  • Sleep-disrupting symptoms such as hot flashes, needing to wee, fibromyalgia, restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

I Just Want to Get Some Sleep!  Gimme More Tips!

Along with the checklist above, here are some dietary, lifestyle and supplements you can try too get some decent shuteye:

Dietary tips to Improve Sleep During Perimenopause

  • Reduce alcohol.  Yep, sorry for the news, but booze disrupts your sleep and can also make hot flashes/night sweats even worse

  • Keep caffeine for mornings: are you having tea or coffee too late in the day? Tea or coffee past lunchtime could be a sleep-disrupting villain.   Try our Peri Chai Latte or Peri Hot Choccy instead (and get better sleep!)

  • If you have perimenopause allergies like hay fever, eczema, hives brought on by peri, maybe consider a low histamine diet

  • If you are on a Keto diet you might need some carbs to calm your nervous system (aim for half a cup of carbs e.g. sweet potato before bed).

Exercise Tips That Can Improve Sleep

Are you getting enough movement during the day?

Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises help improve sleep and reduce stress during perimenopause.

But really, don't put pressure on yourself.  Pick something that brings you joy, as long as you’re up and moving your body, and do that as regularly as you can.

Supplements that Improve Sleep in Perimenopause.

We’re huge fans of Magnesium Glycinate, it is an effective form of magnesium that is easily absorbed by the body and has calming properties. It helps soothe anxiety and improve sleep by calming the nervous system which is why we included it in our Peri Chai Latte blend.

Depending on the severity of your sleep disturbances, you might want to explore further options with a health professional such as: 

  • Estrogen replacement therapy 
  • Melatonin.

Note: Both are prescription only.

Have you found something that helps you sleep?  Tell us in the comments below.

April 25, 2022 — Angela Greely

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