Have you found that your sleep has changed since you entered midlife?
Sleep disturbances are very common in perimenopause, as the brain experiences changes that can significantly impact your ability to get a good night’s rest.
You may have been a good sleeper until you arrived at midlife, only to find that hormonal shifts have thrown off your sleep. And that’s before we factor in the stress of the last few years and the effect it has had on our ability to sleep (which is enough to derail anyone’s evening slumber!).
What happens when we sleep?
Sleep is as vital to your survival as food and water, it removes toxins in your brain and body that build up while you are awake, and is crucial for your recovery and performance.
REM (or rapid eye movement) is a really deep part of your sleep cycle which helps to consolidate your memories. REM acts as a ‘secretary’ in your brain, sorting out and filing information on your behalf. It keeps the stuff you may need in the future and chucks away the bits that aren’t necessary.
If your sleep works its magic, you wake up with your “desk” cleared and feel ready and prepared for a brand new day.
The impact of poor sleep
And the opposite is true too – if you sleep poorly, it can be much harder to process your thoughts and experiences, and you may struggle with your focus and energy.
Poor sleep has a significant impact on mental clarity, performance and mood and no doubt you’ve experienced some of the effects of this after even one poor night’s sleep.
And then there’s the physical impact too, especially when poor sleep is a chronic problem. Poor sleep is linked to lower immunity, poor energy, low mood, irritability and weight gain. Given that you may already be experiencing anxiety, mood swings and brain fog now that you’re in midlife, sleep is an even greater priority.
How to improve your sleep
Make sleep a priority – Creating a good nightly routine that allows you the necessary space to wind down before bed can make a huge difference. Try to go to bed at roughly the same time each night for consistency and a time that gives you enough “sleep opportunity” to get a good night’s sleep. If you don’t go to bed until midnight and you need to be up again at 6 am, there just isn’t enough time to get a refreshing night’s sleep.
Stick to the same bedtime routine – Getting in a solid routine with going to bed and waking up can help to train your body to adopt good sleep habits and a predictable internal sleep pattern.. And yes, this does include weekends too!
Avoid caffeine after 2 pm – Caffeine is a very powerful stimulant so it can be a big culprit for struggling to sleep well. If you find it hard to sleep, you may find it helpful to keep your caffeine intake to mornings and have your last caffeine hit before lunchtime.
Switch off tech – Avoid using your phone, tablet or laptop for at least half an hour before bed (longer if you can). There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that using tech stimulates the brain and suppresses melatonin – neither of which is conducive to good sleep.
Breathe deeply – If you can’t get to sleep or you find yourself waking up in the night, try taking a few nice deep breaths. Focus your attention on your breath and keep returning your attention to it each time your mind wanders (which it will and this is completely normal!).
You don’t have to put up with poor sleep in midlife and there are lots of things you can do to start addressing the midlife changes that have impacted your sleep patterns. Hypnotherapy can help to dial down negative reactions and emotions and switch the brain into ‘rest and digest’ (or relax and chill out) mode. This makes it so much easier to fall asleep quickly and easily.
The state of hypnosis actually replicates REM sleep, which is great news for consolidating memories and relaxation. It’s not a magic wand or a quick fix, but with time, effort and a little determination, you can significantly improve your sleep.
If you’d like to find out more about how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can improve your sleep, you can book a call with me.