Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health and I speak as someone who has always been very good at sleeping! I never envisaged I’d have a problem getting my 8 hours a night, in fact on the odd weekend, I’d get even more shut eye.  About 6 months ago there was a sudden dramatic shift and I started waking up around 5am.  I’d drop off fine around 11pm but try as I might I’d wake up and not be able to drop off again.  I tried going to bed earlier, falling asleep at 10am but I’d just wake up at 4am!

I’ve tried it all, switching off earlier (I can definitely recommend a good nature programme, with the soothing voice of David Attenborough!) but as the problem has never been dropping off it didn’t help. It’s not hot flushes waking me up or preventing me from getting back to sleep.  It happens if I’m anxious and my brain wakes up and decides to work through every problem I have – but it also happens when I’m not!

What can I do about this new problem, just consign it to menopause, or is there anything I can do to help? Some people, previous Prime Ministers for example, famously get by on 4 or 5 hours sleep a night and are fine with that.  I’m not one of those people!

Having done some research on sleep, the following may be helpful. 

The usual obvious first steps are:

Avoid caffeine after mid afternoon

Keep your bedroom at a cool enough temperature to sleep

Invest in a lightweight duvet or use a sheet (*there are in face ‘couples duvet’s where one side is heavy that the other, if your partner is freezing whilst you sweat away!)

Avoid being online and on social media in the two hours prior to bed (yes that’s a tough one!)

In addition to the above, more obvious examples

Try and switch off by watching something relaxing, listening to music or reading before bedtime

Try meditation – there are countless Aps

Think about what you are eating. Some foods promote sleep, including slow burning carbs, like brown rice with a good mix or protein and green veg.

Stay clear of spicy foods at bedtime

Think about the time you are eating. If you can eat by 7pm great – and if not maybe try eating a main meal at lunchtime and having something lighter in the evening, as there is less to burn off. You don’t want to be hungry though so make sure it involves something like a healthy soup with lentils in it, or something equally slow burning. Lentils, pulses and sweet potatoes are great for this.

Have some nice relaxing scents in the bedroom, something with essential oils.  This could be a face oil, that you warm up on your hands and breathe in - I like Khiels Midnight Recovery Oil - I also like a good quality handcream for night-time, like Neom Perfect night sleep. I find that using it before bed and then just breathing it in on my hands as I go to sleep is calming.

There are of course many other things you can use, like pulse point oil, diffusers and using a burner to fill the air with essential oils.  Smell is such a key scent, we often overlook it outside of a perfume, but the power is real!

 Before I do any of the above, I do find a shower before bed helps as the skin can just breathe better and you’re less uncomfortable.

Sleep well...!

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