Studies say that up to 61% of women who are postmenopausal experience frequent bouts of insomnia. For me, sleeplessness started sometime in my early 40s. It kind of goes in waves, depending on my stress level, late dining, too much wine, too much work, ummm…life. At its worst, I’ve gone up to two months without sleeping through the night. Yes, I know there are prescription drugs out there that can help, and I did speak with my internist about them. But in the end, I decided to go for a more holistic approach. I doubt I’ll ever be a “perfect sleeper,” but these 6 steps have helped me a lot. If you experience sleepless nights, I hope some or all of them will help you too!1. CREATE A RESTFUL RETREAT
By now, you probably know how much I love the color grey. As sleek and soothing as it feels in my wardrobe, it is my mantra in the bedroom. We love our apartment, but it was kind of a “white box” when we moved in. I found it really hard to sleep, especially after dawn’s first light. I needed more serenity. So grey and white became the palette when I painted the walls Benjamin Moore’s Sweatshirt Grey. It’s deep yet soft at the same time. I also alternate mix-and-match grey and white bedding each week. And the higher count the cotton, the better! We have central AC which we lower a few degrees at bedtime. A cool room = cocooning in our bed. No night sweats for me either! And we always keep a glass of water on our night tables. And last but not least…no TV!
2. SET A BEDTIME
I know…we’re grown-ups and we can go to bed whenever we want. But I also know that it sure helped us as the parents of three boys to stick to a bedtime schedule while they were young. Mentally and physically, telling myself it’s time to go to bed starts my daily decompression. Embrace the wind down!
3. DRESS THE PART
I discovered these pajamas thanks to Cathy Williamson’s The Middle Page. They’re from Jijamas, a company that designs their PJs in 100% high-end Pima Cotton. Think baby clothes! But for you!! So soft and cozy, you will look forward to putting them on. And not want to take them off. I love the subtle camo pattern and colors of this pair. And did I mention night sweats? All the more reason to keep cotton versus synthetic fabric close to you. Up at the cabin, I go for cotton flannel. Love Garnet Hill. (In the summer, keep the cotton coming too!)
4. STOP WINE-ING! (At least on “school” nights!!)
As much as I think that second (or third!) glass of wine will relax me after a stressful day, it really won’t. Alcohol is actually a stimulant and can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. While you’re trying to sleep, your body is trying to metabolize the alcohol. Not a good combination. So instead of another glass, I’m now steeping some camomile tea or mixing up some Moon Juice Dream Dust. Dream Dust is an adaptogenic (natural and non-toxic) blend of tranquil herbs and chamomile flower that helps combat the effects of stress to soothe your tension for deep, nocturnal sleep. And it’s delicious enough to replace dessert. I love it mixed with almond milk.
Step away from that Mac…or iPad…or smart phone. The blue light emitted from these amazing devices also suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other kind of light. Melatonin is a natural sleep-inducing hormone that is your nighttime friend! Blue light blocks the signals that let your your brain know it’s time for bed. So don’t be like me and write a post at midnight! Set a shut-off time, put your “smart stuff” away for the day and hit the hay.
6. IF INSOMNIA STRIKES…
Don’t toss and turn. And disrupt your husband’s (or partner’s) sleep as well. If I can’t fall back asleep in 15 minutes or so, I get up and head for a comfy chair in our living room. I usually brew some chamomile tea, read and sip, until my brain resets. And it does. Most importantly, DO NOT get on your computer or phone (see Step 5!).
While not foolproof (what is?), these 6 steps have really helped me to a better sleep. I hope they’ll help you, too. And I’d love to hear about any sleep secrets you’d like to share!
Photos by Chris & MP Allegaert