5 Steps to Better Sleep in Menopause

July 7, 2020


Dr. Keira Barr

Sleep is vital to your overall health and wellbeing, because it’s a time to restore your body and your mind, rejuvenating your physical function while amplifying your mental and emotional resilience. 

A lack of sleep disrupts your usual daily hormone patterns causing cortisol to increase and melatonin to decrease. The result is heightened stress and inflammation in your body. For your skin, this can show up as worsening of your acne, eczema and psoriasis. And it’s not just a one-way street. A flare of eczema, for example, can lead to increased itching, which can further disrupt sleep. Talk about a vicious cycle.

What’s more is that during sleep, your skin rebalances its hydration status and increases its capacity to retain water to keep your skin supple and moisturized. A lack of sleep interferes with proper water balance resulting in puffiness, dryness and visible wrinkles.

They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing right?

So if hormonal shifts are contributing to your having trouble winding down at night, or you wake up feeling just as tired as when you went to bed, doing this one thing will jumpstart your way to getting a good night’s rest. Start tonight; you’ll be excited by the difference it makes.

What’s the one thing? Make your bedroom feel like a luxurious spa.

Don’t panic, this isn’t about spending a ton on decor or renovating your room, it’s about creating an environment that appeals to all of your senses. Think about your favorite spa. What makes it your favorite? Tune into all 5 of your senses: sight, sound, touch,smell, taste….how can you incorporate that into your room?  Here are 5 tips on how to accomplish this.

1. Sight

As light is the single most important factor regulating your circadian rhythm and release of melatonin, filtering out light, especially blue light emitted from digital devices, that could impact your ability to get a good night’s rest is top priority. Add a filter to your devices like f.lux, wearing blue light blocking glasses, eat foods rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin like pumpkin, kale, and broccoli to protect your eyes and boost their natural ability to block out blue light; make your bedroom like a dark cave by using blackout curtains or wearing an eye mask.

2. Sound

Some sounds can be soothing while others can be disruptive to your sleep, so blocking out the disruptive ones with ear plugs or a white noise machine may help.

3.​ Touch

Being comfortable in bed is crucial to ensuring a good night’s rest so choosing bedding that oozes comfort is key. When it comes to the temperature of your room, you want to channel your inner Goldilocks and keep the temperature just right between 65°F to 75°F, but when hot flashes are relentless err on the cooler side. Experiment with opening up your windows, turning on a fan or my personal favorite is using a device called a Chilipad to help me regulate my bed temperature. And don’t underestimate the power of reaching out and touching someone… even if you’re desire for sex isn’t revved up,  a hand held, a hug or gentle caress can reduce stress and releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin, so don’t overlook the benefit of touch before sleep time.

4. Smell

Your sense of smell is one of your most powerful. Just like sound, certain smells can work for you or against you as you try to drift off to sleep. Consider opening your window or getting an air filter, not only to improve the quality of your air, but also to filter out any unwanted odors. The use of aromatherapy either with a diffuser or applied topically can also create a soothing environment with lavender being notorious for aiding rest, relaxation and sleep. My go-to essential oils right now are the organic blends Calm and Circadian Rhythm from Vibrant Blue Oils to ease me into slumber. I am really digging these not only because they are effective and organically sourced, they are made by a local Seattle mom. Always gotta give some PNW love!

5. Taste

Eating too close to your bedtime or overstuffing your belly can definately make sleep more challenging. The same goes for consumption of caffeine and alcohol. While I am a big fan of the skin cancer preventative benefits of coffee and the resveratrol in red wine, they create challenges for getting restful sleep when consumed too close to bedtime, especially because they exacerbate hot flashes.  With caffeine’s half-life of 8 to 10 hours, it is best to have your last cup no later 2pm and your last alcoholic beverage 3 hours before your plan to go to bed.

But here’s one of the real game changers for improving sleep quality: Magnesium.

Did you know that nearly 80% of people are deficient in magnesium? Magnesium is considered an essential mineral, meaning we have to get it from outside sources as our body cannot produce it.

Having a role in over 300 different functions in the body, including stabilizing moods, keeping stress levels in check and aiding sleep, low levels of magnesium can throw our bodies out of whack. Magnesium supports restful sleep by maintaining levels of a brain chemical called GABA, which promotes relaxation, reduces stress and assists sleep.

Studies have shown that dietary magnesium can improve insomnia symptoms and may have long-term benefits in reducing of daytime sleepiness in women. Oral supplementation with magnesium has also shown benefit in those taking it an hour before bedtime with greater ease falling asleep, staying asleep and increasing duration of deep sleep stages.

Here are a few magnesium-rich foods to add to your shopping cart:

● dark leafy greens (kale)

● nuts and seeds (almond, cashew, sunflower and sesame)

● squash

● broccoli

● meat

● chocolate

● coffee

Boosting your magnesium intake and combining it with turning your bedroom into your own personal spa by tapping into all five senses to keep your room dark, cool, cozy, smelling good and keeping your food, caffeine and alcohol intake in check…you’ll be amazed by how much better you sleep, and how refreshed and rejuvenated you feel.


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