Updated: Dec 6, 2022
#sleepissues #sleepissuesinperimenopause #sleepissuesinmenopause #insomniainperimenopause #insulinresistance #hormonesandsleep #bestherbsforsleep #whycantisleep #naturalsleepsolutions #womenover40 #perimenopausesymptoms #howtosleepbetter #sleepsupport
.....even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour and do all the “right” things?
Does it feel like you lay awake for hours, thinking over chores, work or any other todo lists?
It will probably not make you feel better, but you are not alone!
Sleep is essential to your health and allows your brain and body to recharge and heal. So I want you to reconsider when your favorite influencer implies that if you want to achieve your dreams you should be waking up before sunrise to get that workout in or get a head start on your achievements. If you don’t prioritize sleep, your body and brain will not be performing well, no matter how many hours you are working or training… So sleep comes first and then the rest will follow!
Sleep can be a real bitch, especially once you hit perimenopause….
And honestly, it’s a real tricky one because it’s very individual and what might work for someone else, may not work for you. Sleep is a big issue for most migraineurs as well and it’s so crucial to get quality sleep to increase your basic resilience or migraine “threshold”.
First, let’s have a look at why you’re struggling with sleep during perimenopause:
Your blood sugar is less stable - this will be impacted by your diet, but also by hormonal fluctuations and cause insomnia aka waking up and not being able to go back to sleep
A lack of progesterone is impacting your quality of sleep by causing less deep sleep aka tossing and turning, not feeling rested when waking up
A lack of estrogen will also impact your ability to sleep well: it impacts your blood sugar and is often linked to insomnia
If your liver is overburdened, this might wake you at night (between 1-3AM) - an overburdened liver can also be responsible for hot flashes at night
High cortisol will impact your ability to get to sleep and keep you up at night. Cortisol has many roles in the body from helping you to wake up to regulating insulin, but its biggest role is to manage your stress response. Cortisol also triggers the release of insulin in your body as a survival mechanism—meaning that being stressed has the same effect on your body as eating a cupcake (without actually getting to enjoy it).
Here are some basic rules that apply to everyone to get better sleep:
Start your day off with a high fat and high protein breakfast
Have dinner early (ideally before 6.30PM)
Make sure your bedroom is pitch dark or use sleeping masks
Make sure the temperature is cool
Engage in relaxing activities like yoga nidra or meditation before bed
Take magnesium biglycinate before sleep
Boost progesterone during luteal phase (check out my blog for more infos)
Avoid screens (blue light) and/or wear blue blocking glasses PM
Stop or avoid doing these things to sleep better:
Stop drinking fluids at least 30 minutes before bed
Don’t drink alcohol (it is proven to negatively impact your hormones AND sleep even if some swear it’s helping them sleep - your sleep quality is not the same and you’ll likely feel the consequences the next day or days)
Stop using screens after 9PM
Avoid bright lights, especially blue lights in the evening
Stop coffee, coke or any stimulating drinks before 2PM
Get my blood sugar & hormone balancing cookbook to get started on improving your blood sugar levels
HERBS AND NUTRIENTS FOR BETTER SLEEP
MAGNESIUM: most women are deficient in magnesium which is one of the main minerals involved in liver detox and stress management. Especially Magnesium Biglycinate helps you relax at night and get better sleep.
PASSIONFLOWER: is a traditional herbal sedative used for the treatment of sleep disturbance. I can confirm that it helps increase my deep sleep.
VALERIAN: studies show this incredible plant can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. Valerian is said to increase GABA in the brain. It’s great to consume in an herbal tea combined with chamomile and passionflower.
CHAMOMILE: used as a mild sedative, like most herbs, chamomile also boasts many other benefits including reducing inflammation, stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving digestive health, and even has proven anti-cancer properties. What makes it so effective for improving sleep quality is a specific antioxidant known as apigenin, which helps the muscles relax and transition into sleep.
GABA: or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a chemical in the brain and also found in some foods. GABA reduces stress, promotes calmness and facilitates sleep.
I’ve been using Zen Sleep this past month and have found that it does help me sleep better! It includes GABA and L-theanine, augmented with vitamin B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P) and L-5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), the precursor to serotonin and melatonin. The combination helps promote a relaxed state, and provides the necessary factors for the body to produce melatonin, supporting normal, healthy sleep.
L-THEANINE : a common ingredient in green tea, especially matcha, L-theanine is an amino acid that has been proven to help people relax before bed, fall asleep more easily, and experience deeper sleep.
5-HTP: 5-hydroxytryptophan is a naturally-occurring chemical that your body produces from tryptophan (an essential amino acid that you get from certain foods such as turkey, fish, and pumpkin seeds). It works to raise serotonin levels in the brain, which positively affects sleep. Because serotonin levels are critical for mental health, 5-HTP can also help regulate appetite. It has also shown promise in improving anxiety symptoms and can even have pain relief properties.
MELATONIN is essential for good sleep. This hormone is produced by your pineal gland, located in the middle of your brain, and functions with the rhythms of the sun.
Once puberty occurs, melatonin production drops. (Source)
Melatonin’s most important function is to help regulate sleep patterns. Release of melatonin is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light. Melatonin is responsible for the sleepy feeling we feel before we – in a perfect world – fall asleep. Your body cannot differentiate sunlight from blue light, which can make falling asleep more challenging when your using screens in the evening.
As much as your body needs 5-HTP to produce serotonin, it then needs serotonin to produce melatonin. Go back to my previous article on melatonin here.
Did you know you can get melatonin from foods as well?
Some foods are high in sleep-promoting compounds such as tryptophan, magnesium, and also melatonin. Eating these foods can help you get a better night’s sleep by naturally boosting your body’s melatonin level, but be careful— there are some foods you will want to avoid also.
What foods contain melatonin?
Tart Cherries - Researchers have found that they increase melatonin levels in the body and enhance sleep. Tart cherries are also available as a supplement often combined with magnesium.
Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, but they are also high in melatonin and may improve sleep. Like with the tart cherries, it’s questionable how much you need to consume so it affects your melatonin levels without compromising your blood sugar which will have a counter effect and keep you up at night….
Eggs are one of the best sources of melatonin.
Milk: Warm milk is a traditional remedy for insomnia. Milk also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which increases concentrations of melatonin and serotonin and helps you drift off to sleep easier. Always opt for a microfiltered product rather than a homogenized one as the heating process makes it indigestible for most.
Fish is a better source of melatonin than other meats. The best options are oily fish like salmon and sardines, which also provide valuable omega-3 fatty acids.
Nuts - Most nuts have a good amount of melatonin. Pistachios and almonds are among the highest.
Mushrooms are rich in melatonin, and also contain tryptophan. They’re also great sources of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Reishi has been found to improve REM sleep especially.
Banana skin tea - Bananas contain melatonin, tryptophan, vitamin B6, and magnesium, which are all great for producing serotonin and helping you sleep. Unfortunately, they’re also very high in sugar and you definitely want to avoid the sugar roller coaster during the day and night. So a great way to get in the nutrients from the banana without the sugar is making banana skin tea! You need to use organic of course to avoid the pesticides on the skin and wash it thoroughly. You can either boil it like that or dry the skin in the oven first and make tea from it after. It tastes very pleasant!
Foods to avoid before bed
As much as eating late can keep you up at night, avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the evenings are another no brainer. But there are other foods that can impact your sleep that you may not be aware of:
Chocolate is often high in sugar and even if you opt for the really dark one without much sugar, there’s another catch: chocolate actually contains caffeine (especially the dark one), so you might want to try avoiding it at night.
Pizza - unfortunately, pizza is a perfect storm of foods that can potentially ruin sleep: refined carbs, the tomato-based sauce, and all the high-fat toppings like cheese and pepperoni, which can slow your digestion and cause inflammation. You can prevent this by enjoying a healthier pizza, such as one with cauliflower crust, a non-tomato-based sauce, less or no cheese, and lighter toppings like veggies.
Spicy foods can be very acidic and can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, which you don’t want while you’re trying to sleep. They can also trigger acid reflux or IBS, so it’s best to steer clear of anything too spicy before bedtime if you’re sensitive to these foods.
Acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruit: they can cause acid reflux, but also citrus fruit are a natural diuretic, so they may cause you to have to go to the bathroom at night
And lastly, improving your Vagus nerve function can also help get better sleep. I have not tried any of these devices yet, but I know that many people have great success with them. One of these devices is the Apollo Neuro which helps your brain get back into parasympathetic state and therefore help people who are nervous calm down and sleep better.
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