Almost everyone knows what its like to go to bed in anticipation of a good night’s sleep, and not be able to fall asleep. You start tossing and turning, and then you start worrying that you aren’t going to be able to fall asleep, so the worry makes sleeping even more difficult. For those who know that their very life and health depends on sleep, worry that not being able to fall asleep will affect their health. Yet it is frustrating because it seems as if there is not a darn thing you can do about it.
These kinds of scenarios don’t seem to affect the young who go to bed and sleep like a baby. It seems as the older we get the more trouble we have falling asleep. Many women in their peri-menopause and menopause years can attest to the frustration of going to bed just to watch their husband’s fall asleep as soon as the head hits the pillow.
What exactly is going on in the body of a woman who is going through the stages of menopause? Well, for one the loss of estrogen stimulates the adrenal glands, and brings on a stress response. Circadium rhythms, the body’s internal clock, upset the balance of hormones that are secreted by the pituitary and the pineal glands, which occur at night.
I have been through menopause and I was very blessed to have only had a couple of hot flashes, and I have never had night sweats. However, many women experience these hot flashes and night sweats which further inflict them when they are trying to sleep.
Peri-menopause can start ten years earlier than your actual cessation of menses, and that is what happened to me. At forty years old I was experiencing signs of menopause, so though I didn’t have hot-flashes the on-set of insomnia seemed to more than made up for it.
Chronic sleep deprivation is problematic because sleep is the time that our body renews itself, and with this deprivation comes a lack of mental clarity and problem solving skills. During stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep) blood levels of substances which activate the immune system increase, and the skin restores itself by turning out new cells. Our tissues and muscles repair themselves, while at the same time levels of the stress hormone cortisol decline so that the adrenals get a much needed rest.
Without sleep these very important internal machinations cannot take place, and our body ages faster. The stress hormone cortisol continues on its destructive path causing metabolic problems which cause weight gain, and important nutrients are prevented from getting food to the areas of need.
Naturally restoring hormones can help get your circadian rhythms back on track, and will help you to go back to a more normal pattern of sleep. One of the natural things a woman can do to help restore hormonal balance is to eat more soy products. Soy has been a source of contention amongst scientists, primarily because there is evidence that processed soy products creates an artificial-like protein, which is inferior to unprocessed soy, such as whole edamame beans.
As well a woman may want to discuss with her doctor about estrogen hormone therapy. Bio-identical hormones, such as Estradiol, Estriol and Estrone should be monitored by your doctor so that you can be sure that your hormones are balanced. Many women have reported “feeling like a younger woman” with the help of these therapies.
Some of the symptoms of imbalanced estrogen are, but not limited to:
*difficulty falling asleep
*increased back and joint pain
*mood change etc.
Here are a few strategies to help combat insomnia while you are considering contacting your doctor to discuss hormone therapy:
*don’t drink alcohol before bed because though it helps you fall asleep you are less likely to stay asleep.
*find a wonderful calming tea that you sip while listening to soothing music.
*stop caffeine use early in the day, and because sugar is a stimulant it should be avoided before bed as well.
*Your bedroom should be a dark, quiet place that is peaceful. Light interrupts our natural circadian rhythms which can wake us up.
*Your bed should be used for sex and sleep only, not a place to contemplate the complexities of life.
*Resolve your differences and anger towards others well before bedtime, allowing your anxieties to calm.
*Figure out what gets you worked up and stressed, and find ways to resolve these issues, whether it be through exercise, journaling, meditating and forgiving.
One natural foods which aid in balancing the hormones is yams, as well as cabbage and citrus fruit for hot flashes.
Red raspberry leaf tea and black cohosh are also good for menopausal symptoms.
Some natural foods which help for insomniacs are:
wheat and zucchini
*for a more comprehensive list visit www.healingfoodsreference.com, which also has a long list of herbs such as valerian root and ginseng which help with insomnia.
As we age is it important to get the sleep we in order to help our immune systemto do the best possible job in repairing and rejuvenating our bodies.