Dear Candy Q & A: Retraining around Menopause & Sleep Hygiene
Aug 16, 2021
3 min read
Tips for Retraining Around Menopause
We want to treat menopausal symptoms in a similar fashion to any other issue that you are retraining around - do practice rounds and redirect when the symptoms show up, watch for automatic negative thoughts that may be showing up and don't entertain them, and do the best you can to have a calm or elevated emotional state as much as possible. Often the symptoms fluctuate or come and go, so when they are present we want to increase our intervention time and effort. Hormones change more slowly than other limbic system conditions, so you may not see evidence of your retraining immediately but it is still worth doing.
Also, avoid or minimize caffeine and alcohol. Many women notice a connection between even having one glass of wine and increased night sweats or hot flashes. Consider adding daily meditation or mindfulness practices if you are not doing so already. There is research suggesting that meditation helps with the symptoms of menopause (which tells us there is a brain component to it, and that retraining can be beneficial). Daily exercise, even in small ways and practicing good sleep hygiene are also useful in mitigating the symptoms.
Below is a list of tips and practises to assist you in creating the optimal conditions for an easy, deep and restful sleep.
Create a consistent routine by going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time. Research has shown that the hours between 10pm and 5am are the best for sleep. Even if you don’t go to sleep right away, still get up at the same time the next morning.
Ensure that your sleep space is free from light and noise at night. If not, consider getting blackout blinds or using an eye pillow and ear plugs.
Do not read or do activities in bed other than sleep (sex is an exception). By using your bed only for sleep you are training your brain to associate being in bed with sleeping
If you can’t fall asleep, do not stay in bed awake for longer than 45 minutes. Get up out of bed, do another activity (like read) for 10 – 15 minutes, and then return to bed and try again.
Use relaxation exercises or guided visualizations consistently at bedtime to help you create a relaxed state, and to signal to your brain that it is time to sleep.
Decrease stimulation one hour before bed (i.e. turn off the t.v. & computer) . Try to create a state of relaxation with a warm bath, a cup of herbal tea, or anything else you find that helps you relax or prepare for sleep.
Avoid napping during the day unless absolutely necessary
In your imagination, recall times when you fell asleep quickly and easily as you prepare for bed. Go back to that feeling of deep relaxation that occurs right before falling asleep and focus on it.
Find healthy ways to deal with stress (like exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises). Don’t give your brain the opportunity to focus on your worries as you are settling to sleep. Engage your brain in other thoughts and say “Stop” or "Cancel" to yourself when worries arise. Focus on a positive or relaxing memory, or do a guided relaxation to re-direct your thoughts.
It may take a while to create a new habit that allows you to consistently have a good night sleep, but sticking with these practises on a regular basis will help get you there!
Until next time!
If you have a question, please email me at email@example.com
Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com