Combating Insomnia in Perimenopause: A Holistic Approach

With hormonal shifts and the many demands of life, a restless night can quickly become a common occurrence during perimenopause. For so many women, we finally leave the years of navigating sleepless nights with younger children, only to enjoy a brief reprieve before the rollercoaster of perimenopause throws us into insomnia again.

However, by adopting a holistic approach, it’s possible to stave off insomnia and reclaim restful nights—even during hormone shifts punctuated by hot flashes and night sweats. In this guide, we’ll cover three key areas of focus to improve sleep quality and provide relief from perimenopausal insomnia.

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Mindful Sleep Routine

A consistent and mindful sleep routine is the first step in combating insomnia and sleep problems associated with perimenopause. Here are several practices to incorporate into your nightly regimen when you’re having trouble sleeping.

Establish a Consistent Bedtime

Your body thrives on routine, and establishing a regular bedtime routine can help it recognize when it’s time to wind down and sleep. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This consistency minimizes the change for sleep problems by regulating your body’s internal sleep-wake cycle, known as circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep quality.

In fact, some of the longest living women in the world attribute their healthy life to the consistent schedule they keep with their sleep, exercise, and mealtimes (1).

Read: Energizing Morning Hack for Busy Women & Moms

Relaxation Techniques Before Sleep

In the hour leading up to bedtime, engage in activities that promote relaxation. This could be a warm bath, gentle stretching, or practicing meditation. Deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation can also ease the transition into sleep.

Relaxation techniques help to tone the vagus nerve, priming the body for rest and relaxation (2). The vagus nerve, the longest nerve in our body, is responsible for regulating various bodily functions, including heart rate and digestion.

Avoiding Stimulants and Screens

Stimulants like caffeine can disrupt your sleep cycle and trigger hot flashes, so it’s best to avoid them several hours before bed (3). And if you’re someone who’s regularly reaching for a second (or third) cup of coffee in the afternoon hours, it may be helpful to forgo the extra caffeine until you overcome your sleep difficulties.  Plus, caffeine intake has been linked to an increase in hot flashes.

Blue light emitted by screens can inhibit the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, resulting in poor sleep quality. Power down your phone and tablet at least an hour before your head hits the pillow if you’re having trouble sleeping.

Read: 10 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Menopausal Hot Flashes

Nutritional Support

Diet plays a significant role in sleep quality, especially during the menopausal transition known as perimenopause. Consider the following diet changes to achieve a better night’s sleep.

A Blood-Sugar Balancing Diet

Eating a well-rounded diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help maintain stable blood sugar levels, which reduces the change for sleep disturbances, especially those that occur around 3 am.

If blood sugar dips too low (often around the hours of 3-4 am) for women experiencing perimenopausal hormonal shifts, it can trigger a surge of adrenaline and cortisol, resulting in waking up full of energy and unable to fall back asleep (4).

Avoiding large, heavy meals close to bedtime can prevent discomfort and indigestion that might otherwise disrupt your sleep.

Bedtime Snacks to Help You Fall Asleep

Incorporating certain foods and supplements into your diet can aid in relaxation and improve sleep. Foods rich in tryptophan, such as turkey, nuts, and seeds, can boost the production of serotonin, which the body converts into melatonin.

Magnesium and calcium are also known for their relaxing properties and can be taken as supplements or found in foods like leafy greens and dairy products. Magnesium has also been shown to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, promote more restful sleep, and increase total sleep time (5).

Try a small serving of Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of honey. The protein in the yogurt will help stabilize blood sugar, while the vitamins and minerals in the seeds promote restful sleep.

Shop: Get the benefits of 6 functional types of magnesium in Serenease.

Daytime Activities Sets You Up for Better Nighttime Sleep

Lifestyle choices can have a profound impact on sleep quality. Here are some adjustments to consider.

Strength Training

Engaging in regular physical activity in the form of strength training can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep (6). Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, but try to schedule your workouts earlier in the day to avoid the stimulating effects of exercise on the body.

Stress Management Strategies

High stress levels are a common contributor to insomnia, especially for women between the ages of 35 and 55.

Don’t underestimate the power of stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, or journaling to help calm the mind and set the stage for better sleep (7). If stress is particularly overwhelming, consider seeking the support of a holistic mental health professional.

Create a Sleep-Conducive Environment

The atmosphere of your bedroom can significantly affect your ability to sleep. Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions. Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows, using blackout curtains, and keeping the room cool can create an ideal setting to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Avoid These Common Sleep Traps

The Nightcap

Despite the perceived drowsiness you feel after an alcohol-containing beverage, alcohol actually disrupts sleep patterns and increases your heart rate during the night, leading to a less restful sleep (8). Instead of relying on alcohol for relaxation, try incorporating other calming herbs or supplements into your bedtime routine, like magnesium glycinate, jujube extract, or magnolia bark.

Read: Get Better Rest with Magnesium

Sleeping Pills

While sleeping pills may seem like an easy solution for insomnia, they come with their own set of risks and side effects. Plus, they only provide temporary relief and do not address the underlying causes of sleeplessness.

What to Remember

Getting enough quality sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, especially during perimenopause. By making simple lifestyle adjustments, incorporating relaxation techniques, and focusing on a healthy diet, you can improve your sleep quality and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Remember to practice consistency in your bedtime routine and make adjustments as needed to find what works best for you. Here’s to sweet dreams!