Along with a good diet and regular exercise, you need to put sleep high up your list if you want all round good health. If you’re currently going through Perimenopause or Menopause you might find that your sleep is increasingly more disturbed, which can have a dramatic effect on both your mental and physical wellbeing. It’s always best to talk to your doctor if you are really struggling as they can advise you about the options available. However, there are also a lot of things you can do yourself to help promote better sleep hygiene.
The NHS recommends that adults get between 6-9 hours of sleep every night. You might need to adjust your current routine to ensure you get the amount of sleep you personally need.
Keep regular sleeping hours
Try to ensure you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Your sleep environment
The ideal sleeping environment should be cool and dark. If you have a particularly light room then black out blinds can be useful in the lighter summer months. And if you are a light sleeper you might find earplugs can prevent you from being disturbed by external noises in the night.
Reduce exposure to bright light at night
Avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen on these devices can stimulate the brain and make it harder to get to sleep. You might find it helpful to sleep in a different room to your phone so you aren’t disturbed by alerts.
Get enough natural light during the day
Daylight can make a huge difference to your sleep-wake cycle. Experts recommend that you expose yourself to natural daylight for at least 30 minutes a day, particularly in the early part of the day, if possible.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
Stimulants such as coffee, tea, alcohol, nicotine and even chocolate can all disturb your sleep. Your evening glass of wine might help you drift off to sleep initially but it can disrupt your sleep cycle, meaning you might not sleep soundly through the night and wake up feeling tired and irritable.
Write down your worries
If you have worries on your mind then you might find it helpful to keep a notebook near your bed so you can jot down your concerns before going to sleep.
Avoid vigorous exercise at night
Strenuous exercise done too close to bedtime can raise your heart rate and stimulate the brain, making it harder for you to get to sleep. Try to exercise during the day if you can, or opt for gentler forms of exercise such as yoga, which will promote a more relaxed state.
Develop a pre-bed routine
Some people find it helpful to develop a nightly bed routine to help them wind down for the evening. Some things to try are: a warm bath (not hot), some gently stretching or yoga, breathing exercises or meditation.
For further information about sleep health, visit the NHS website.
If you are interested in a deep dive into all things sleep, Dr Matthew Walker has done extensive research on the topic. His book, Why we sleep, is a fascinating read, packed with useful information and tips.