In this episode, we cover:
- The importance of sleep for weight loss, appetite control, blood sugar balance, immunity, energy and balanced mood
- The impact that a poor night’s sleep has on your hormones
- How to maximize your natural melatonin production
- Which teas, tools and bedtime practices can enhance a good night’s sleep
- How alcohol and caffeine impair sleep; how you can still enjoy these with minimal effects on sleep
- What our sleep routines look like
While it can be a challenge, sleep is crucial for mood and hormone balance. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is a torture technique!
In perimenopause, common sleep issues include:
- Problems falling asleep
- Problems staying asleep
- Not getting a deep, restorative sleep
When you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you produce more stress hormones that has you:
- Get sick more often
- Gain weight and hold on to fat around your middle (creating the dreaded muffin top!)
- Experience more sugar cravings
- Make unhealthy food choices
- Reach for more refined carbs and comfort foods
- Eat more food than you need throughout the day
Hormones related to your weight and metabolism:
Leptin is a hormone released in your body that tells your brain that you’re full. Levels of leptin decrease in your body when you get a poor night’s sleep.
Ghrelin is a hormone released in your body that tells your brain that you need to eat more food. Levels of ghrelin go up when you don’t get enough sleep
If you’re consistently not getting more than 6 hours of sleep, research shows that you can eat around 200-300 extra calories every day. As a result, those extra calories can mean a weight gain of 10-15 pounds over a year! Also, a night of interrupted sleep can result in high, pre-diabetic blood sugar levels. Physical activity can help to reset these hormones, blood sugar, mood and energy levels..
As a perimenopausal mama, Dr. Toni gets sleep whenever she can. She depends on naps to aim for a total of 8 hours when sleep is inconsistent. For a long time, she tried to follow the rule “mama sleeps when baby sleeps”. She wasn’t always successful, finding that poor sleep hygiene habits of checking Facebook and working on her computer before bed impacted the quality of sleep. She often found that she needed to listen to a guided meditation track or podcast to quiet her racing mind and shut down her brain enough to fall asleep.
Dr. Lisa’s sleep patterns have been ever-changing. She found that she was waking up in the middle of the night and unable to fall back asleep, especially 2 weeks before her period. Sometimes she needed to read and make a relaxing tulsi, lemon balm, chamomile or lavender tea to calm her overactive mind.
Journaling before bed can help you to process your day and act as a brain dump. Using a journal can help to take thoughts out of your head and put them on paper so that they don’t roll around in your head and interfere with your sleep
Are you too hot at night?
As a perimenopausal mama, you might be dealing with hot flashes and night sweats. They can impact sleep significantly. Research shows that your body needs to cool down in order to make enough of your sleep hormone, melatonin. Therefore, using less sleep clothing, thinner blankets on your bed, and lower thermostat setting in your home can help your sleep.
Blood sugar balance is also important. Eating too much before bed can increase your body temperature and interfere with your sleep patterns. Going to bed hungry isn’t always a good idea. Sometimes a small snack with some protein is needed, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Hormone imbalances related to hot flashes include:
- High cortisol from stress
- Cortisol reducing progesterone
- Low progesterone compared to estrogen
Are you trying to do too much after the kids are in bed?
So often, we want to get all the things done before we go to bed at the end of the day. However, if you want to clean up, do laundry, watch your shows AND spend time with your partner, you are probably depriving yourself of sleep to get it all done. In reality, you’re probably better off picking one or two things to focus on each night.
Even if you’re relaxing in front of your TV, phone or computer, the light from your screen can be stimulating your stress hormones and interfere with proper melatonin production. Blue light blockers are available, although they don’t always block that light 100%.
Time to cut out the wine?
Having a glass of wine or beer might feel relaxing, but it can be too stimulating later in the evening and interfere with sleep. Pick and choose the time to have a drink. Often, the earlier, the better. Having a drink with supper can be better than on an empty stomach. If you’re having hot flashes or night sweats, it can be incredibly helpful to cut out alcohol completely.
To coffee or not to coffee?
There isn’t a right answer that fits for everybody. Why? The answer is in your genes. Like Dr. Toni and Dr. Lisa, you might be a slow metabolizer of caffeine. This means that your body breaks down caffeine more slowly over the day compared to a fast metabolizer of caffeine. This is why some people find coffee in the morning can still interfere with sleep
Some ideas for creating the ideal bedtime routine for sleep quality and hormone balance:
- Eat 2-3 hours before bed
- Cut out or cut down alcohol intake
- Exercise no later than 2 hours before bed
- Dim lights
- Read a book
- Reduce screen time or use blue light blockers
- Practice deep breathing or meditation
- Review your day with a journal
- Use relaxing tea or supplements like magnesium, melatonin, passionflower
Today’s tip: Try out a few of the above ideas to create your own ideal bedtime routine. You deserve more than just a random good night’s sleep!
Today’s Mama Must Haves:
Dr. Toni likes to have echinacea on hand at home for her and her family to manage cold viruses and support immune system function.
Find one of Dr. Toni’s favourite brands of echinacea online HERE.
Dr. Lisa uses the Insight Timer app for different meditations to help sleep and relax.
As an Amazon Associate Dr. Toni earns from qualifying purchases, which helps to keep this podcast up and running!
Thank you for joining us today!
Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!