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How does bad sleep affect you and your health, especially in menopause, and what can you do about it?
Do you have bags under your eyes that are so big you could pack them for a weekend away?
I occasionally do but then mine are Prada so they are designer which means they were expensive and they can stay.
All jokes aside are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day? If so, read on because I have some great tips for you!
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The Science Of Sleep Is Fascinating, Complicated And Growing
Sleep is an important thing that we all do daily and yet we’re only just beginning to understand its exact benefits and everything that can have an effect on it.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep are at higher risk of many health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; as well as health changes like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.
If you are in menopause lack of sleep creates the perfect storm in your health.
Lack of sleep can also negatively impact moods, memory and decision-making skills. We who are going through menopause are already foggy thanks to lowered oestrogen, who needs lack of sleep too?
And what about your looks. Not getting enough sleep leaves your skin dry and bags under your eyes as we’ve already mentioned. Being over 50 I need all the help I can get and a good night’s sleep is free so I’ll do whatever it takes to have a one.
Do you know that sleepless nights may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? GASP! All that hard work and no benefit, seriously, not good.
Knowing all this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
- To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
- To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
- To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than growing kids but you may be surprised to know that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. Try not to skimp!
(Don’t worry, I have you covered with actionable tips below.)
Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep
- The best tip is to try to get yourself on a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it
- Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods full of blood-sugar-balancing fibre. Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat especially vegetable protein such as nuts, pumpkin seeds, linseeds.
- During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body its daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
- Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12 pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind more active than you need it to be in the evening. Check out the chai latte in this post for a luxurious caffeine-free drink.
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath. Your routine might also be writing in a journal. Especially a gratitude journal which is great for the mind.
If you are still feeling too awake for sleep try some breathing like the 4-7-8 method I use here. In the cooler months, I like to take a cup of chamomile to bed with me.
Magnesium is well known for its ability to relieve insomnia. It helps decrease cortisol, the stress hormone. It also helps to relax muscles and give you an overall sense of calm. I like to take one before bed and one in the morning.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?