How to have a good night sleep by Prof. Oladapo ashiru
If you are one of these women aged 40 and over who find it difficult to sleep, you are not alone.
Many women wake up every night between 12 midnight and 4am and start prowling around the house. It is now clear that inability to sleep affects not only women but men as well. There now exists in Medicine a faculty that deals with sleep medicine due to the increase in a number of people being affected. In frustration you may begin pacing the house, cleaning the kitchen floor, surfing the Internet or watching CNN or movies on late night TV. Getting good night’s sleep becomes more and more difficult as we age, but women in menopause find it particularly difficult to get good night sleep. In many cases, this inability to sleep is due to too much estrogen in your system that is not balanced by progesterone. Before menopause, estrogen is the dominant hormone for about the first two weeks in the menstrual cycle and progesterone is dominant in the last two weeks of the cycle. When menopause occurs naturally these two hormones should continue to balance each other, but if you are a woman at menopause leading a stressful lifestyle, you may find that your production of progesterone is suppressed and or converted to stress hormones and you will have a dominance of estrogen in your system leading to sleeplessness and other unpleasant menopausal symptoms.
Using a little progesterone cream made from natural bio-identical plant sources may help you easily solve this problem. The right way to use progesterone cream or oil is to use about 1/8 to ¼ of a teaspoon daily for three weeks out of the month, with a week of each month to maintain the sensitivity of the progesterone receptors. Natural progesterone cream made from bio-identical plant sources is not the same as the synthetic hormone progestin, which is made from animal sources.
I know some women who have not slept for longer than four hours since they started menopause. When they were given some progesterone cream they reported that they were able to sleep for eight hours. This was a major turning point in their recovery from a long list of menopausal and health problems.
If it’s not hormones, what Is It? Look for the simplest solutions first
If after taking progesterone cream you still cannot sleep, then you need to look for other causes. Another very common cause of sleeplessness is due to food intolerance or allergies. Most people will have a high spike in blood sugar level after eating or drinking something sweet. This is fine during the day but eating sugary foods at bedtime will lead to a hypoglycemic episode 90 minutes later that will result in a surge of adrenaline that will keep you awake for several hours. Eating cheese close to the time of going to bed may also keep some people awake. Many kinds of cheese have high amounts of tyrosine, which is used to make noradrenaline which is a stimulant made by your adrenal gland.
If you suffer from chronic insomnia it is a good idea to keep a diary of the food you eat so that you can correlate foods eaten and the quality of your sleep each night. This way you can begin to have a better sense of foods that help you to sleep and those that pump up your system to keep you tossing and turning all night.
The liver does its job of digesting your food between 1 am and 3 am. If you eat anything that it finds difficult to digest then you will likely be waking up around this time. Eating late may also cause insomnia for this reason. Try to eat no later than 6 pm so that your food would have had time to digest before you sleep.
Drugs are not the answer to insomnia and may be the cause
Have you noticed that when you have a cold or a cough and you take cold and allergy medications at night you are unable to sleep? Many of these drugs can cause insomnia even when they claim to be nighttime brands, with a sleeping aid designed to help you sleep. Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs can also cause sleeplessness. These include antidepressants, asthma medications, painkillers, some of the heart drugs, and thyroid medication. You need these medications so you cannot stop taking them, however, you can change the time you take them. Try taking these medications in the morning and early afternoon and see if that helps you to sleep better.
If you have high blood pressure and you have been put on diuretic drugs twice a day, you might be up and down all night to urinate. Reducing the dose and changing the dosage times to avoid taking it in the evening might also help you considerably.
If you are tossing and turning at night, visit your pharmacist and ask for the information inserts for any drugs you are taking, buy a magnifying glass and read them. If insomnia is listed as a possible side effect, talk to your doctor, and don’t accept a sleeping pill as a solution! Taking the drug at a different time during the day, or taking a lower dose, will often solve the problem.
Taking sleeping pills bought over the counter or from a doctor on prescription and other anti-anxiety drugs will make you develop an unhealthy dependency on the drugs, and make you feel woozy and tired during the day. Taking sleeping pills is almost never the answer to insomnia. If you must take them make sure they are taken only temporarily and are a stopgap measure. The best thing to do is to find out what is causing your sleepless nights.