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Menopause Blog: Help me get my sleep back!

Updated: Aug 23, 2023


woman can't sleep during menopause

I'm a good sleeper! That may not be the way to start off a blog if you're reading this and you're tired and frustrated about your lack of sleep and how it's affecting you. Hang on though as the moment I can't sleep, or I have night's of heavily interrupted sleep I'm a nightmare! It feels like it's the end of the world and my sleep isn't coming back, I don't function and I get very moody. I need my sleep, and a fair amount of it, and on hitting perimenopause it kept disappearing on me, so I can only imagine how you're feeling? This month is my menopause blog: Help me get my sleep back!


Also in this blog I'm going to look at 6 REASONS WHY YOUR SLEEP IS INTERRUPTED AND HOW TO RESOLVE THEM.





HELP ME GET MY SLEEP BACK

Many women are functioning on too little sleep and feel that this is the way it should be; but it's not. It's not a good mindset to get into either because you're slowly making yourself ill. Your body needs sleep to heal and recouperate, to not sleep enough is to age you, no matter how many creams or beauty products you have. Health really does start on the inside, and it actually does start with having good sleep.


There are women who are lifelong insomniacs, I've met a few (mainly Fire signs!). They may work through the night, or have shifted their daily routine, it isn't great but it works for them, and they are a small percentage. You though, if you're here have either lost good sleep or you're fed up of years of tossing and turning and now really feel you can't function any longer, I bet your brain is really foggy, your joints are aching and you feel exhausted before you even get out of bed?


I hear you!


WHAT IS SLEEP DOING FOR YOU?


Whilst you're asleep your body can run a lot of processes, it's a bit like updates on your computer or smart phone, if you didn't allow the updates to run how long before your gadget starts to not work properly. A human being is very good at compensating and running on low energy but it catches up with you, and you know you're not working or living at your very best.


Some of the functions your body needs to run whilst your sleeping are detoxing your liver (and blood), flushing toxins out of your brain, calming and repairing your nervous system, and hundreds more. When I studied chinese medicine we learnt about the 24 hour clock, every 2 hours a different vital organ is given time to process, this is a time when it runs its daily routines and flushes out the bad stuff. One of the most significant ones that affects women in the menopause transition is the liver.


Think of a an engine that only has 2 hours to do it's daily job, but what happens if the workload is going to take longer than 2 hours? It has to work harder and faster to do that work in the allotted time. If your liver is like an engine and an engine has to work faster it gets hotter; this is night sweats! When you know what is exactly going on with each vital organ at each time of the day THEN you have the power to control some of the elements in your life, to take the pressure off and allow your body to fix and heal itself. It's so powerful, and that's what the principles of chinese medicine gives us. It's 5,000 year old wisdom, where there worked out how the body really works and gives us the tools to replenish and revive ourselfs.


This is how I got my sleep back, this is how I resolved my perimenopausal symptoms, this is how my periods got better, and this is how I help all my clients resolve their symptoms too!



6 REASONS WHY YOUR SLEEP IS INTERRUPTED AND HOW TO RESOLVE THEM


Firstly your night is broken down into these 2 hours sections I mentioned above, and then linked to the major energetic organs in your body. This can help you get to sleep initially, or get back to sleep when you wake in the middle of the night. It can help you temperature regulate so that you don't wake up and it can delve deeper into many health issues that you may have. Interrupted sleep can have an exhausting effect on your whole health, now and post menopause so good sleep IS good health!


Let's look at some top reasons for your sleep being interrupted, and most importantly some guidance on what you can do to get your sleep back on track!


REASON 1 - NIGHT SWEATS


There are those that wake up and have to have a shower in the middle of the night, those that need to throw covers on/off, those who wake up in a cold sweat some that may sleep though the heat but are still affected - let me explain. For all of us, we will heat up between about 1 and 3am all our lives, male or female and this is due to the liver running its cleansing process. This is the time of night that the liver cleans your blood, removing the toxins of the day. Any sugars that are in your blood stream at this time of night will also be processed into either energy or to be stored as belly fat. If the sugars turn to energy you can wake up around 4 ish, and feel wide awake.


Tip to reduce night sweats:


Look to your evening meal - eat earlier, remove processed foods and refined carbs, alcohol, caffeine.



woman temperature control in menopause


REASON 2 - LACK OF MAGNESIUM


Fitful sleep can be induced by your body not having the nutrients it requires. Symptoms like restless legs, headaches, achy muscles and cramps are all signs that your body is missing something vital. If a pain was keeping you awake you'd address the pain. A lot of these symptoms are your body trying to tell you there is something wrong. At the end of an exhausting day, you should fall asleep and stay asleep, so if your body is waking you up it really is telling you it needs help.


Magnesium is the mineral nearly all human beings are depleted in, we don't get it from our food sources like we did 60 or so years ago. An apple has reduced by around 80%!




Magnesium is responsible for over 300 processes in your body, most of them are repair and rejuvenation and what better time to do this than when you're curled up and asleep. If your body won't let you sleep it's because it's trying to let you know that it needs something to help it do its repairing.


Tip for sleep nutrition:


You can take Magnesium in the morning and/or the evening. In the evening (with dinner) it is then in your system ready to help your body repair over night. Magnesium can also be massaged into muscles that may cramp with an oil or cream.



REASON 3 - YOUR BRAIN WON'T SHUT DOWN


Either you can't get to sleep for a racing brain, or you wake after a 90 minute sleep cycle and your brain is ready to go again. In Chinese Medicine this is a 'wood' energy, it's also a creative energy, so a lot of people can do their best work between 10pm and 1am. However if you need to get to sleep to get up on time this really isn't helpful.


Tips to calm your brain:


Luckily there are a few here, you always see about lavender and chamomile essential oil based products and that may work for some of you, and can definitely support the other tips here (or their maybe other scents that relax you, I'm partial to Neom's sleep mist).


I suggest this for trying to get to sleep or if you wake with a racing mind in th early hours. Physically calming your brain with a couple of these methods and I can really relate to gratitude helping me get back to sleep when I'm awake with the 4am issue.


Here we go:

  1. Keep a notepad or equivalent by the bed just to write down those things you mustn't forget

  2. If you're thinking about something, and you can't let go of it, ask yourself the question 'Is there really anything I can do about it?' If the answer is no, let it go. If the answer is yes, jot it in the notepad, then let it go too.

  3. Emotional issues - thinking negative thoughts or holding on to the issues of the day, only affects you, not anyone else. Replace what you are thinking with something important that you are really grateful for. Think about this and only this, think about how feeling this grateful really makes you feel? This will calm your brain down, and you can induce sleepiness this way

  4. Breathing technique - to slow down your respiration, exhale for longer than you inhale. For example if you inhale for 4, exhale for 8. It doesn't matter the numbers so much as long as breathing out is longer.

  5. An essential oil for helping you back to sleep in the middle of the night - Petitgrain Mandarin. I really found this one works, it's not a pleasant smell when you're awake in the day , but it does smell perfumed in the middle of the night. Keep the bottle by your bed and inhale when you awake, combine this with thoughts of what you're most grateful for and you will drift off into a blissful sleep.


woman getting back to sleep in menopause


REASON 4 - YOU WOKE UP COLD


A lot of people don't realise this one, but its pretty important if you've chucked off the covers in the night, for your sleep and for your neck and shoulder muscles. Reason 1 was that you woke with the liver processing heat, and this is now the opposite of that, the liver processing has shut down and you've woken up because on some level your body has registered the cold. This is the time to pull those covers up over your shoulders because in cooling down and leaving muscles exposed they're now susceptible to getting a chill in them. Also your lower back/kidneys (just under the bottom ribs) don't want to get cold either. When we register being hot sometimes its only certain parts of the body, and the back gets forgotten about, and then gets a chill. If you wake up with stiff neck and shoulders or back pain this is what could be happening in the night.


It may be time to look at your mattress as well!


Tip to keep the cold out:


Have something to hand to pull back over, if not the covers then at least something that covers your waist to your neck. Your kidneys really benefit from keeping warm so if they get cold in the night your body may struggle to replenish itself on a deeper level. Cold kidneys aren't happy ones and if you kidney energy is struggling this is the basis of a majority of menopause symptoms including hot flushes that appear later on. Look after your kidney energy day and night now for a stronger constitution throughout your menopause transition and life beyond.


*kidney energy is a chinese medicine term for your energetic pattern. Kidney Yin and Yang make up your life force and the menopause transition is the imbalance/ weakening of these through your time of change.



yin yang balance in womans menopause transition


REASON 5 - YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM ISN'T RELAXING


Something can wake you up at 4am but then something else can keep you awake from 4am. This is why Insomnia can be complex, it is no one thing, but many things, and the indivisual elements need to be resolved to give you the complete nights sleep that you crave. You can be lying there around 4am and your mind maybe blank or it maybe whirring, whichever it is still your nervous system not relaxing into a deep replenishing sleep.


If your mind is whirring, adopt the tips I had in Reason 3 as well as what I'm about to tell you. If you wake and your mind is blank but you lie there willing yourself to go back to sleep this is most likely an indicator of 2 things - too much energy in your system waking you up and the inability of your nervous system to relax.


The excess energy has come from your dinner the night before, so simplyfying your last meal of the day to remove carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and potatoes, as well as the more obvious refined sugars really does make a difference. Try going to bed feeling slightly hungry and see if there is a difference.


The other aspect is that you're in such a fatigued state that your nervous system is too wired to switch off and relax. A tell tale sign of this during the day is that you can't sit down and relax, like watching an hour long tv programme without fidgeting or having to get up and do something. If you're unable to relax during the day, you're also unable to relax during the night.


Supplements tip to aid relaxation of your nerves:


Ashwaganda is a herbal supplement known as stress adaptogen, it can help your adrenals calm down. Even if you don't have anxiety during the day but do wake and worry in the early hours, this may help your body learn to switch off. I do suggest though that first you are taking a multivitamin AND magnesium regularly before adding in Ashwaganda, don't skip over the basics. Your nervous system needs the whole range of vitamins and minerals to lower the stress hormone - Cortisol. Always ensure your nutritional levels are topped up first, eat plenty of vegetables and support with a good plant-based multi-vitamin; get me guide here.



REASON 6 - TOO MUCH EXERCISE?


Bet you didn't see this one coming! How can that be? I've exhausted myself during the day, I'm tired, I've gone to bed and crashed, so now why am I wide awake? This is is similar to reason 5, your nervous system can't relax. If you tend to do a lot of daily exercise with high impact or long distance you may want to alternate with more eastern and restorative exercise like Yoga and Qi Gong. These calm your nervous system down and allow your body to replenish, and both styles have short breathing forms that allow you to do these in the middle of the night. Check out some examples on You Tube.


Tip for finding the sweet spot on exercise:


If you feel happy for the rest of the day, you don't burst into tears or get ratty easily, you sleep better and you don't wake up feeling exhausted, you've found your sweet spot!



HERE ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS:


OPTION 1

can't sleep in menopause? Understanding Your Menopause book

Take the guess work out of how to rebuild your sleep, let me help you!


Understanding Your Menopause is my book designed to step you easily through making the small changes that add up to a big difference in your sleep, energy and over symptom relief. It's been designed based on the principles of chinese medicine which understands the way your body works and supports this to help you make effective changes quickly.



OPTION 2
Feel better, relieve your menopause symptoms naturally

Your're ready to have a go and you're pretty good at doing things for yourself!


I've put together my 4 best products in one great deal! Read the knowledge, take actions, see results in Go Getter Starter Pack



OPTION 3

Are you ready to make changes and would like to discuss one to one support?


Have you had a go and still finding you haven't resolved stubborn issues, or you have more complex health issues? Book a free chat with Andrea and find out how to get started.


I want you to know that you really don't have to put up with any symptoms, the stress that the change of hormones puts on your body puts your health under a magnifying glass. The symptoms you're experiencing are your body screaming in 'pain', telling you things are wrong, put these health imbalances right and you will feel the relief, and you can start noticing real change in under 28 days.



K N O W L E D G E . P A U S E . F L O U R I S H


Andrea is a Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine Practitioner who has specialised in helping women alleviate symptoms and understand perimenopause from the earliest signs. Since shocked but relieved to find out all her symptoms were perimenopause related when she was 45 she has dedicated her business to educating women like you one what is going on in your mind and body and most importantly how you can resolve your symptoms, naturally and effectively. Her method is based on the principles of chinese medicine, an ancient wisdom that resolves todays stress related symptoms.


Read more about how Andrea at Cotswold Menopause can help you here everything from affordable self help guides and programmes to one on one consultations



andrea marsh shiatsu and chinese medicine practitioner, menopause specialist

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