Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking,Â including thinking about not thinking.
Kathy looked at me with a raised eyebrow. â€œYou were up at 2 a.m.? Me too!â€
I nodded with empathy.Â â€œDonâ€™t you hate it?Â Mostly I canâ€™t shut off my brain.Â Â I worry that Iâ€™m too far behind on my writing, my photography, or my marketing.Â In the wee hours of the morning Iâ€™m focused on what I didnâ€™t get done instead of letting it gooooooooooo.â€
Kathy sighed.Â â€œ I used to be able to sleep until noon.Â No more.Â I donâ€™t expect to sleep better going forward, either.Â Itâ€™s just that Iâ€™m so tired of being tired.â€
Lately a lot of midlife women have been telling me they are not sleeping well. Contributors to the insomnia are hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and depression. Insomnia increases the risk for heart disease, obesity, traffic accidents, blurry family life, and sets up a cycle of poor functioning in daily tasks. (Tieraona Low Dog and Marc S. Micozzi, 2005)
What is the Connection Between Menopause and Sleeplessness?
Here are five actions you can take to possibly improve your sleep cycle:
- According to Ann Louise Gittleman, PH.D., C.N.S., author of Before The Change; Taking Charge of Your Perimenopause, â€œWhen a woman doesnâ€™t ovulate for many successive months, her ovariesâ€™ secretion of estrogen can become erratic. She may have surges of the hormone, followed by unusually low levels.Â With estrogen surges, she is likely to suffer from water retention, weight gain, breast swelling and tenderness, sleep disturbance, and mood swings.â€ (p.19) Dr. Gittleman suggests taking a magnesium supplement to help with sleep problems.Â â€œMany women have a magnesium-calcium imbalance during their perimenopause. Taking a magnesium supplement may solve your sleep problems.â€ (p. 172) Â She recommends Magnesium Forte, available from Uni Key Health Systems.
- In the book, The Most Effective Natural Cures On Earth, Dr. Jonny Bowden suggests the use of Inositol for sleep disorders. â€œInositol is â€˜natureâ€™s sleeping pill.â€™ Taken before bedtime, it can significantly improve sleep quality.â€ He recommends that you drink 2 g of powdered inositol in water before bedtime. (p. 57)Â â€œJust to get used to it, start with about Â¼ to Â½ teaspoon and work up to the dose that makes you feel best and giveâ€™s you the best nightâ€™s sleep. A few teaspoons should do it easily.â€ (p. 58) One source is ‘Vitacost Inositol Powder.‘
- Dr. Tieraona Low Dog recommends a melatonin.Â In her book, Fortify Your Life; Your Guide to Vitamins, Mineral, and More, she says, â€œAnyone who has difficulty falling asleep, suffers from heartburn, has mild symptoms of depression with poor sleep, fibromyalgia, diabetes, or irritable bowel syndrome may benefit from a trial of melatonin.â€Â She personally takes 3 mg, but says the optimal dosage for those aged six or older is 1 to 6 mg taken 2 hours before bedtime.Â Dr. Low Dog stressed that you cannot take the dosage at bedtime and expect to fall asleep immediately.Â â€œYou must take it approximately two hours before bedtime to mimic the natural secretion pattern of melatonin. A timed released version of melatonin is available here.
- Nexalin Therapy, a new medication-free & non-invasive treatment for anxiety, depression, and insomnia has gotten the FDAâ€™s approval. Â You can learn more about it here.
- Susun S. Weed offers a number of sleep aids in her book, New Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way. Since I am about advocating midlife and creativity, I found this advice particularly usefulâ€”â€œEngage the energyâ€¦Keep a journal by your bed. Creative juices flow wildly during menopause; if youâ€™re up when they are, grab â€˜em. She also suggests using lavender blossoms and their essential oil as â€œcrone classics.â€Â Sleep with a little pillow of lavender blossoms, or use a few drops of the essential oil on a handkerchief tucked into your pillow.Â â€œTaking a bath before bed with lavender essential oil eases the mind and body, and evokes soothing dreams.â€ (p. 129)
Sweet dreams, my friends.Â Let me know what does or doesnâ€™t work for you!