In pursuit of a good night’s sleep…
So…how are you sleeping these days? Getting enough sleep never used to be a problem for me. But in the last couple of years (and especially the last few months), I’ve struggled to get a solid 6-7 hours per night, let alone the 8-9 that’s often recommended.
I went through menopause in my late 40’s/early 50’s, and had very little of the hot flashes or night sweats that plague many women. I didn’t anticipate that my sleep issues would start after I was well through the transition.
Some nights, I fall asleep without much trouble, but then wake up between 2-4 am and have trouble getting back to sleep. Some nights I just can’t get comfortable to fall asleep initially; I’ve described the feeling as “trying to sleep on a pile of bricks.” I’ve tried Melatonin, but it doesn’t seem to help.
My sleep habits are good. I’ve kept to a regular bedtime since my 30’s, and have always tended to be an early retire/early riser. I turn off the computer and put down the phone at least 90 minutes before bedtime. I’ve learned not to read or watch anything too suspenseful before bed. (We love our murder mysteries and European crime dramas, but always follow with an episode of something lighter.)
Stress Hormones and Sleep
I’m now in Week 5 of Faster Way to Fat Loss, and the topic of sleep has come up in our discussion group. Getting adequate rest is an important component of the program, and that means at least 8 hours of solid sleep nightly. Since I’ve been in the program, I’ve increased my exercise and have cut WAY back on caffeine and alcohol. I’d really hoped these changes would improve my sleep, but so far not much.
One of our group coaches explained that waking up in the wee hours (aside from having to wee…) is often caused by a spike in Cortisol. That’s the stress hormone that makes our bodies accumulate and store belly fat, among other things.
And one of the things that can cause a spike in cortisol in the night is low blood sugar. The coach suggested having a (healthy) high carb snack at the end of each day’s “feeding window” and to be sure not to go to bed hungry. (A half a banana with a few cashews was suggested.)
That was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, because for decades I’ve operated under the belief that going to bed hungry was an effective way to manage my weight. But I may have been undermining myself. So I’ve shifted to eating more of my carbs later in the day, and adding some fruit after dinner.
I’ll let you know how it goes…
Have you found any effective ways to improve your sleep?
My lovely blogger friend Pam Lutrell has featured moi on her blog, Over 50 Feeling 40 today! I’m truly honored! Please go take a look, and check out some of her other fabulous content!
Top: Château de Chenonceau
Middle: Intercontinental Amstel
Bottom: Château de Villandry