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Menopause Corner
Menopause Corner

Wendy Hoffman blogs about menopause and women's health—particularly focusing on how diet and nutrition can positively affect a woman's life around the age of menopause.

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Try These Bedtime Rituals For A Good Night's Rest

We all have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep from time to time, but for many pre-and post-menopausal women, getting the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye is all but impossible due to hormone fluctuations, nocturnal hot flashes, and even a snoring partner.

In the short-term, a night of tossing and turning can leave you feeling foggy-headed, lethargic, and cranky the following day. But constantly skimping on sleep can create bigger health problems that can affect the quality of your life for years to come. According to recent studies, sleep deprivation has been associated with the development of diseases like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, and it has been shown to be a risk factor for immune system impairment.

I’ve read many articles offering “secrets” to a good night’s sleep. But most of the time they’ve seemed too insignificant to make any difference for a real insomniac like me. But lately, out of desperation, I’ve been putting a few of them to the test to see if they really can help. I figure if they can work for me, they can work for anyone.

I’m happy to report that changing just a few behaviors and creating new rituals has indeed helped me sleep better. I committed to them for a full week to give them a fair chance. Though seven hours of uninterrupted sleep is still a dream for me, I have to say that these five tips did make a difference and they’re worth a try:


Stop work on the computer two hours before bedtime

The light shining in your eyes acts as an arousal mechanism that can trigger the brain that it’s time to get up.  Swedish researchers recently found that “regularly using a computer late at night is associated not only with sleep disorders, but also with stress and depressive symptoms in men and women.”


Go to bed at the same time every night

 Behavioral specialists say that “strategic sleep scheduling” strengthens your body’s sleep system and creates a positive association between your bed and sleep.


Have a small bedtime snack

According to Dr. William Sears, the best kind is one that has both complex carbohydrates and a small amount of protein that contains just enough tryptophan to relax the brain. Calcium, either from food or a supplement, helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin, the hormone responsible for signaling the sleep/wake cycle.


Take a magnesium supplement 

Magnesium can help to relax your muscles and promote sleep. As Michael Breus, Ph.D., explains in his book, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, “magnesium affects mood by boosting the level of serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter in the brain. When combined with calcium, magnesium is a good muscle relaxant.”  


Take Some Deep Breaths

You probably don’t realize how much stress you’re carrying in your body until you inhale deeply and exhale slowly, three times. When I do this sitting or standing during the day, I can feel my shoulders drop. At night, in bed, deep breathing brings on a feeling of calm and drowsiness and often it’s just a matter of minutes before I’m too tired to read.


If you road test these tips (or can suggest others) find me on Twitter (@menopauseblog) or Facebook, and let me know if they worked for you, too.


Wendy Hoffman writes about women’s health at www.menopausetheblog.com



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About the Author

Wendy writes about women's health in midlife.