A lot of women who are used to sleeping normally have suddenly found themselves suffering from insomnia and cannot figure out how to sleep better. Why? One major cause for insomnia in older women is menopause. Those surprise hot flushes and nighttime sweats appear out of nowhere and disturb a peaceful sleep are symptoms of approaching menopause.
Cause of Insomnia
This period is also called the menopause transition (perimenopause). This hormonal imbalance starts when a woman’s reproductive system stops producing eggs and, in consequence, reduce the production of the hormone estrogen. When ovulation stops, a woman’s body also reduces the production of progesterone. As the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone decline in amounts in a woman’s body, symptoms such as sudden hot flushes that also result in nighttime sweating can appear out of nowhere.
Hot flushes can jolt you awake since these hot flushes are indication of the body producing adrenalin that will rouse your brain and won’t allow you to go back to sleep immediately. Some lucky women may not experience hot flushes but for the majority of menopausal women, it is something that they have to deal with.
Also, as adrenalin is being pumped in the body, the hot sensation you feel will make you produce sweat. Hence, nighttime sweating can leave women drenched and sometimes require them to change their bed sheets.
Since the brain is racing with adrenalin, many women, after the hot flushes are over, find themselves unable to quiet their minds and think of things over and over. This can cause women to be sleep deprived and wondering how to sleep better.
Your Diet Matters
As the body goes through these changes, women need to support and nourish their bodies to diminish the effects. While there is no tried-and-tested formula to combat the resulting sleep deprivation, the following are good ways to start:
Nighttime diet is important so instead of drinking or eating anything that contains caffeine such as coffee, make sure to take something that can make you relax. Milk has been proven to induce sleep since it acts as a sedative thanks to the tryptophan it contains. An alternative to milk is drinking chamomile tea that also promotes relaxation.
Cut your smoking habit too since cigarettes contain stimulants that can keep you awake. It may not be strictly related to diet but aside from damaging your lungs, you are inhaling stimulants that can compound your problem of insomnia.
Avoid triggers to hot flushes like wine and spicy foods that trigger nighttime sweating. There are sound studies that have found that alcohol and spicy foods do trigger these symptoms.
Your Environment Too
Make your bedroom cool and well-ventilated. Wearing breathable clothing such as clothes made of cotton fiber helps.
Removing the TV from the bedroom can improve your sleep since your mind will be less active because it is not stimulated as much.
Plant-based sources of estrogen have been found to help combat hot flushes. Women in Asia have more soy (which contains estrogen) in their diet and this is the reason why only 30% of Asian menopausal women experience hot flushes unlike in North America where the range is between 80% to 90%.
Because of the changes that occur in your body during menopause, working out how to sleep better may need to include methods that address these changes. But you will also benefit from knowing how to manage regular insomnia and understand what is important to encourage healthy sleep.