Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sleep Easy with Menopause

If you are trying to sleep easy with menopause you might find it difficult if you are experiencing night sweats which is one of the main side effects women have when their estrogen levels begin to decline. There are a number of other factors that may cause you to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Not only are you facing hormonal changes causing nights sweats and/or hot flashes which throw off your sleep/wake cycle, you could also have other health issues such as thyroid problems, incontinence, sleep apnea, stress, depression, anxiety, side effects from medication and weight gain. What can you do to help eliminate or lessen these symptoms?  Try these natural lifestyle changes before considering prescription drugs.

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Hot flashes and night sweats are cause by decrease estrogen levels that affect the hypothalamus, a gland that regulates your body’s temperature. 75% of women have these symptoms according to the American Congress of OB/GYNs. Natural alternatives such as meditation, yoga, hypnosis, acupuncture and breathing exercises may relieve your symptoms. Try black cohosh or soy products. Remifemin a black cohosh supplement has been reported to work the best and has been recommended by OB/GYNs.

Why use Remifemin? Remifemin not only reduces 70% of night sweats, hot flashes, irritability, mood swings and anxiety its formula included Valerian, lemon balm and hops all well known sleep aides to help you fall asleep and stay asleep easy all night along. It’s also non-habit forming and gentle on your body without side effects.

Stop all caffeinated products such as coffee, tea, chocolate or aspirin. Check you medications as they are also known to contain caffeine.

It is always recommended to keep your bedroom at 65 degrees to get a good night sleep, but if you are suffering from night sweats you might want to keep your bedroom temperature a few degrees lower so you can keep your body temperature cool all night without being uncomfortable. Also wear light weight pajamas that aren’t restrictive.

Incontinence isn’t caused by menopause, but it can surely make it worse. As you get older your pelvic muscles weaken and with lower estrogen levels the problem is acerbated by a thinning urethra lining. If you are overweight it is a good idea to lose some weight to reduce the pressure on your bladder. Avoid spicy foods and citrus fruits as well as limiting the amount of caffeine, because caffeine is a diuretic and can exacerbate your incontinence. Drink plenty of water during the day to flush out any bacteria in your bladder and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Don’t drink a lot of liquids before bedtime and remember to empty your bladder before retiring. Try Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles.

Menopause anxiety occurs in women that are usually premenopausal as they are trying to deal with a changing body that takes place when there estrogen levels start to fall. Some women experience the change with no symptoms at all, some with symptoms as their periods are decreasing and into 2-3 years after they have stopped completely and then there are those women who suffer from all the side effects of menopause for years. Depending on the severity of their symptoms they may also feel fatigued, get headaches, and suffer from insomnia which creates anxiety causing shortness of breath, heart irregularity, dizziness and trembling. In order to take control of their anxiety many women will exercise, get a massage, go to therapy or find an interest to focus on something other than their menopause symptoms. Learn some relaxation techniques to lower your heart rate which will calm yourself down and allow you to fall sleep. Progressive relaxation, deep breathing, cognitive behavioral therapy, self-hypnosis, white noise and biofeedback are some techniques and alternative ways to keep your mind off your stress and anxiety to fall asleep at night.

GABA is a supplement that is used to help reduce anxiety. GABA not only lessens feelings of anxiety it also induces relaxation and increases alertness. You can also increase your body’s natural production of GABA by eating GABA enriched foods such as;

• Almonds, tree nuts
• Bananas
• Beef Liver
• Broccoli
• Brown Rice
• Halibut
• Lentils
• Oats, whole grain
• Oranges, citrus fruits
• Rice bran
• Spinach
• Walnuts
• Whole wheat, whole grains.

Other lifestyle changes you can consider to sleep easy with menopause are making sure you establish a sleep routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Start your routine at least an hour before you go to bed as this will allow your body and mind to prepare for sleep. Make sure your room is dark as any light will keep your mind awake. Don’t watch TV, play video games or work on your computer in bed. Your bed should only be used for sex and sleep only. Exercise and eat large meals at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. If you like a snack before bed, eat foods that are full of tryptophan, as tryptophan is known to make people drowsy. If you exercise the best time is outside in the morning sun between 6-8:30am, you not only get your recommended amount of vitamin D, you will also keep your sleep/wake cycle in check.

Most importantly get help if you feel you need it, whether a doctor, counselor, personal trainer, acupuncturist, massage therapist, or naturopath – either alone or in combination – as they may have alternative treatments that will help you sleep easy with menopause. The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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