Tip # 10 in the Self Care Series for Menopause:
Create a bedtime routine
It is important to create a bedtime routine, particularly in menopause, so sleep is essential for a healthy body and a healthy mind.
The word conjures up soft white clouds, floating sheep, and peaceful dreams.
Many studies show that during menopause, sleep can get badly disrupted. Insomnia becomes an unwelcome guest in the bedroom. Night sweats add a less than charming touch to the scene. You are exhausted but can’t get to sleep.
You don’t know when this will end. A peaceful night’s slumber is now but a distant memory.
You feel like there is nothing you can do about this nightly torture.
Well, we are here to help.
The dipping estrogen levels in menopause can indeed cause a whole host of issues, not least of which is insomnia. Still, there are many things you can do to help yourself. One of the most important things you can do is create a bedtime routine.
For all other long-lasting habits, you have to repeat it over and over until it becomes something you do automatically. Any new routine takes 21 days to transform into a habit. This one may save your sanity and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Here are 12 ideas to help you to create a good bedtime routine:
1. Regular bedtime
This is one of the most important things to do. Go to bed at a regular time every night. This trains your body to expect to sleep at a particular time. It will seem a bit silly knowing you will toss and turn for a while but try and listen to an audiobook or some soothing music to lull you to sleep. The book shouldn’t be too exciting or interesting, obviously.
2. Light evening meal
Avoid eating a heavy meal before going to bed. Keep evening meals light and healthy.
3. Pre-bedtime music playlist
Create a pre-bedtime playlist to help relax you into sleep. This should be calming music, not your favorite hits you love to dance to.
4. Hot shower or bath
Have a shower or a bath before a couple of hours going to bed if you find this helps you wash off the stress of the day and relaxes you. You can turn this part of your bedtime routine into a meditation shower where you imagine or even visualize all your stress being washed away by the water.
5. Keep the room temperature low
The National Sleep Foundation advises that the ideal bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees (15.5 and 19.4 degrees Celsius) because Melatonin, which is the hormone that tells your body it is time for sleep, is produced at lower room temperatures.
6. Darken the room
Again, this signals your body to start producing the sleep-inducing hormone, Melatonin. We live in so much light that our body does not get the proper signal it is time to go to sleep. Try dimming the light in your room as the evening turns into night. Help your body get ready for sleep.
7. Practice sleep hygiene
Avoid electronic devices at all costs. The light they emit has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns and cause sleeplessness. Today’s screens produce so-called blue light that sends signals to our mind that it is daytime. If your phone has night mode, set it so that it turns on as the sun goes down. Turn off all electronics, if possible, an hour or so before your bedtime so that you do not hear notifications and avoid their temptation to look at the screen. Read a paper book or magazine instead.
8. Avoid Caffeine
Do not have caffeinated drinks a few hours before bedtime, but having a hot herbal tea may be helpful. Aniseed tea and Chamomile tea are well known for their relaxing properties.
9. Write down tomorrow’s to-do list
If it helps you reduce stress about things that need to be done the next day, write a to-do list. Not everyone finds this helpful. For some, it elevates the anxiety of how much they have to do the next day, but for most, it helps the brain stop ruminating on what task it has for the next day.
10. Relaxation exercises
Do a simple relaxation exercise before bed: Breath in deeply through the nose for a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Breathe out fully through the mouth for a count of four. Repeat the cycle 4 times.
11. Write in your gratitude journal
Write in your gratitude journal. List 3 to 5 things you are grateful for that day. This has also been proven to lighten your mood and make sleep easier.
12. Try a mobile app to help you fall asleep
Sometimes, despite a regular routine, we find ourselves still wide awake. At times like this, listening to a recording of rain, forest sounds, or similar may help get you back to sleep. Apps like Calm, Headspace, Paul McKenna, and others may offer a good solution. They are worth trying but do keep the light off the device as you listen to the recording.
One trick that can still work is the good old-fashioned counting sheep or counting backward. The important thing is to get your mind off worries and problems that may be keeping you awake.
Read more about what else you can do to look after yourself in menopause.