Women the world over sleep less as they get older. This may be a protective mechanism, so that the young are protected by their elders in the small hours. So long as the sleep you experience is refreshing, it’s best to get up to do something productive and enjoy the peace, rather than worry about not sleeping. For those of you who like to meditate, the early hours of the morning are reputed to be the best time and can compensate for sleep.
What Disrupts Sleep
Stimulants, such as caffeine in tea and coffee and nicotine in cigarettes, can disrupt sleeping patterns and are best avoided, or at least limited after noon. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, causing frequent visits to the bathroom during the night. Green tea, camomile or lime blossom tea have relaxing properties. So too does the mineral magnesium, plentiful in green, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Oats and a particular type of cherry, called Montmorency, are natural sources of the hormone melatonin which is derived from serotonin. Magnesium helps convert serotonin to melatonin in the body and as well as being the hormone that aids sleep it is also a powerful antioxidant. A hot or cold glass of Montmorency cherry juice not only tastes good but should help you achieve quality sleep.
You could also consider a bowl of oats in the evening rather than for breakfast. The meadow grass, Festuca arundina, known as Asphalia, is also a good natural source of melatonin. Both Montmorency cherries and Festuca arundina are available for supplementation in capsule form.
Hundreds of people have also reported great results listening to a CD called ‘Silence of Peace’, piano music that is specifically designed to put you into the ‘alpha’ brain wave state that is the prerequisite of sleep.
There are many factors that underpin our ability to keep well. These include a good diet, keeping hydrated, getting good quality sleep, breathing properly, daily exercise and having a positive frame of mind.
A Natural Solution
My favourite strategy for sleep is caffeine avoidance, taking a combination supplement providing both 5-HTP, magnesium and calming herbs an hour before bed, listening to ‘Silence of Peace’ as you go to sleep. If this doesn’t work try melatonin, available on prescription or over the counter in most countries outside of the EU. Start with 3mg and monitor progress.
Disruption to our normal hormone balance at menopause can really affect sleep, hot flushes and sweats in particular mean restless nights so check for signs of oestrogen dominance.