We usually do not realize how valuable something is until it is missing from our lives. This is the case with sleep. Quite often when one starts The Change, sleep can become difficult. There may be hot flashes waking you throughout the night, you may feel aches and pains, you may get headaches, you may get twitches in your toes or legs along your nerves that act up when you lay down. There is much to address with The Change. But in this blog, we will talk about sleep.
It is important to note, I am not a doctor or someone who works in the medical field. I am a Life Coach. What I write about is my experience, what I have heard from other women in their experience, and research. I can pass on information here, but in turn hope to hear from you the reader to know of your experience as well. Putting together all the pieces to this transition in our body is complex, different for everyone, but something we can all share to increase awareness and community.
Sleep is vital for so many reasons. Not only does it help our bodies heal and revitalize, but it is a time when we may dream in a deep sleep, even unknowingly, and resolve in dreams some of our issues of the day that were on our mind. Did you ever wake having the answer to a pressing question or challenge? But I digress. Deep sleep is crucial to overall good health, but especially muscle and nerve repair. Unfortunately, it is one of the early disruptive symptoms one can experience at the start of The Change, Perimenopause.
At the very start, because sometimes your estrogen may be too low or sometimes may be flooding your system, there may be fluctuations between times you easily sleep through the night and times you don’t. When estrogen declines, there is also a loss in calcium and magnesium, among other minerals. Both of them may play a role in getting a good night’s sleep.
While sufficient estrogen is critical to the restorative deep stage of sleep, there are things you can do to assist in getting sleep, before considering hormone replacement.
(1) Sleeping Pills
This is not one of the recommended things one can do. But rather a recommendation to avoid. Sleeping pills are extremely addictive. Try to avoid them at all costs. Once you start taking them you will have to wean yourself off and it can take time. If you go cold turkey, you can actually experience a few nights of being wide awake for a few nights without even an hour of sleep.
(1) Dietary Habits
Cravings are a big deal during this transitional time, a topic for an entire blog. Try to cut down or avoid sugar and hidden sugars in your foods. It can create a seesaw in energy and wake us at night. To control intense cravings get a support system with friends going through what you are, or join a group of women going through the hormone change. Help each other with what you learn.
Many women crave wine and liquor during The Change. It can give a desired numbing effect and alter one’s mood, but can create a sugar imbalance, throw your hormones off more, cause you to avoid a deep sleep, and have you wake up even more tired than you might normally awake. You may also be more prone to gaining weight at this time. If you want to drink wine, how about savoring the idea to one glass a week with a meal, and drinking a dry wine with less sugar in it. It will be less damaging.
Also see if you can cut back and/or eliminate caffeine. If your intake is high, try cutting back on ½ a cup every few days. Instant coffee is half the caffeine as brewed. Cutting back on coffee can also help reduce hot flashes. For some it works to cut back to one cup of instant in the morning and one cup of instant in the afternoon.
Avoid eating 2 hours before sleep. This will allow your body to rest and restore rather than work at digesting during sleeping hours.
Exercise can be a great aid against hot flashes but can also help you sleep, and provide a feeling of balance in your body. I coached a woman at age 41 who had hot flashes when she first started the change. She preferred to avoid hormones. It was found that Bikram Yoga was enormously helpful for her against hot flashes. It is a disciplined type of yoga done an environment of 105 degrees. It has become very popular and is located in many metropolitan areas. She would alternate between Bikram Yoga one day and weight machine workouts another. In addition to helping her sleep and hot flashes, it helped her mood swings and provided toning. Something we all appreciate at that turn in the road with age.
There are some herb teas that some people use for sleep. Do your research. An herb tea can be like a medicine in helping or hurting the body. Look up the pros and cons of any herb tea you add to your diet. It is good to check that it does not interfere with your own body processes or medications.
While I never found a tea that helped me sleep, some women have. If you have found a sleep remedy in tea, I would love to hear from you.
During The Change doctors readily recommend Calcium with Magnesium and Vitamin D. They mean well but don’t necessarily know how much or what each person may need and/or the risks. You will repeatedly hear me say do your research.
I have heard conflicting information about calcium when one is completed with The Change. First I read higher than ever calcium is needed then to avoid osteoporosis. But also read there are issues after The Change where calcium is not utilized the same way as younger women and can go to the brain and cause calcification. Have also read that too much calcium for women can cause heart problems. I myself experienced heart palpitations and low blood pressure when taking high calcium with magnesium and D, and extreme fatigue. When I got off calcium and supplemented it by foods, the symptoms went away.
Calcium, Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, and medications that harm rather than help for same, obviously beg a blog all by itself, so that women can make their own choices with what can at times be confusing and conflicting information. It is up to us as women to connect all the dots.
“Too much calcium over time can cause an irregular heart beat and can lower blood pressure. In serious cases too much calcium can be damaging to the brain (and this is why calcium binding proteins are believed to be good for
cognitive function). This can then result in confusion, fits and loss of consciousness. A build up of calcium in the
blood is called ‘calcification’ and when this builds up too much it can cause cardiovascular diseases.”
Calcium Chart within below-linked site, from vegetarian food sources:
Calcium Rich Foods for Osteoporosis
(5) Progesterone Cream
While some do not believe in hormones I respect that choice. For me this was a true find. Progesterone is what floods a woman’s body in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy when she has that glow. I call it my happy cream, it helps be to go into a deep sleep in 10 minutes and to awake more relaxed. After years of experimenting and searching for ways to aid sleep, I was happy to find progesterone cream. I have introduced it to other women who have found it very helpful to sleep. It doesn’t, however, work for all women, as 20% of women do not respond to it. It is best to be tested by an alternative hormone doctor so you know what your hormone levels are and you don’t throw yourself off balance.
Many progesterone creams are ineffective. The cream I use is Pro-Gest by Emerita. It is sold in the health food store, and on the Internet. If you decide to purchase this product, they have 2 types; make sure to purchase the one that is “paraben-free.” (Parabens have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and skin irritation.) The instructions are to place 1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon onto the neck or breast area before sleep. I prefer to keep such things away from the breast. I place it on the inside of the arm where you bend it.
Before I started using this product, I did my research using two extremely helpful books. One for Premenopause, the other for Menopause. Respectively, one is over 400 pages the other over 600. It is a lot to read, but helped me to know all sides of what I was doing and what to look for.What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause: Balance Your Hormones And Your Life
- What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause: Balance Your Hormones And Your Life From Thirty To Fifty, by John R. Lee, Jesse Hanley, Virginia Hopkins
- What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone, by John R. Lee, Virginia Hopkins
Remember, everyone is different. Understanding the needs of your body during the transition of The Change takes time and patience. You are building a relationship, getting to know yourself and your body in new ways.
Live Your Potential! ♥
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