What to avoid to help with sleepless nights and insomnia

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Food and drink to avoid menopause sleepless nights and insomnia

Useful to know what may trigger your restless menopause nights;

  • Sugar and refined carbs can cause blood sugar to spike and dip. Leave cakes, biscuits, white bread, pasta and white rice on the supermarket shelf. Switch to good carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, pasta and brown rice.
  • Salt can raise blood pressure and cause dehydration, interrupting your precious sleep.
  • Spices can cause reflux when you lie down resulting in heartburn.
  • Caffeine impacts on sleep up to six hours before bedtime. The mid-afternoon mocha may cause midnight misery as you toss and turn. If you’re sensitive to the effects avoid coffee, energy drinks and fizzy drinks in the evening.
  • Alcohol helps you to fall asleep but can wake you up later in the night, bringing with it unwanted anxiety and making it difficult to get off to sleep again. 

Sleep… It’s all in the preparation

  • Snooze, you lose! Snoozing reduces your ability to fall asleep at night. If you do need to snooze, NASA found 26 minutes is the optimum snooze time.
  • Big meals before bedtime should be avoided, so try not to eat within three hours of going to bed to optimise melatonin and blood sugar levels.
  • Disconnect from electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed to help you to wind down. Exposure to blue light from screens suppresses melatonin production.
  • Listening to calming mindful meditation apps like Headspace, or Calm, help train your brain to relax (switching off 30 mins before you want to sleep).
  • Stick to the same sleep schedule, consistency is good for your body clock.

When you’re in the sleeping zone….

  • Leave your phone out of the room: that little screen emits sleep bothering blue light.
  • Cut out the noise: If you are a light sleeper or sensitive to noise, wear earplugs. (May also help with hormone-induced tinnitus). 
  • Block out light: it supresses melatonin. Try an eye mask or black out curtains or blinds.
  • Try breathing exercises to calm down if you feel stressed about still being awake. Watch our YouTube vlog Yoga with Annie - Relaxation & Breathing Exercises 
  • Keep a sleep diary to track sleep, or lack of it, noting down thoughts that might be keeping you awake.

No sweat! 
Night sweats contribute to sleep problems. Take steps to stay cool.

  • Turn off the heating and keep the window open. A lower temperature encourages your body to rest and sleep. 
  • Night wear for night fever! Wear moisture wicking PJs to keep cool. We like Cucumber Clothing's nightwear that wicks moisture away from skin quickly, making you feel more comfortable, less granny-jammies than other brands. Or try PJs made from bamboo fabric that’s moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial. Alternatively, substitute sportswear for PJs to absorb moisture for menopause night sweats.
  • Breathable bedding made of light coloured natural fabrics, or specialist fibres, will help absorb moisture. Synthetic sheets will make you hotter and sweatier.
  • Specialist mattress protectors are super absorbent and help air to circulate.
  • Chill out with a ‘chillow’ pillow, filled with cool water to lower body temperature. 

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Laura Llewellyn