Bedroom with wall tapestries at Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire region of France. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.)

Room decor at Intercontinental Amstel. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Bedroom in Chateau de Villandry in Loire region of France. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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!

Fancy beds:

Top: Château de Chenonceau
Middle: Intercontinental Amstel
Bottom: Château de Villandry

Pretty bedding for your Château…

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  1. I have suffered from the same type of sleep patterns. I rarely have trouble falling asleep but do the 2-4am thing. Right before the pandemic I started acupuncture and while I did not go there for sleep issues they treat the whole person. When I told her about my sleep ‘issues’ she recommended essential oils. She explained that for a good night sleep your heart and kidneys need to be aligned. The palm of your hand represents your heart and the soles of your feet the kidneys (or vice versa). She recommended that I apply essential oils to the area of my foot between the ball and heel with the palm of the opposite hand. I’ve been doing that for the last 6 months and I have to say that I noticed very good difference. Do I still have those 2-4 nights , yes but very occasionally. I enjoy your blog! Good luck.

    1. Just a note for everyone reading this: many essential oils are not safe for use around pets. Do your due diligence before accidentally harming your furball!

  2. I can’t wait to hear how this goes I have exactly the same problem to a tee. I would love to join your friend after labor day and give this program a try.

  3. Luckily I sleep pretty well but there are occasional nights when I’m awake at 3-4am, and not just to use the bathroom. I fluff my pillow a bit, and change my side…(I’m a side sleeper) and hope for the best. If I’m not asleep by 4:15 I get up. The following night I sleep like a dream…..luckily it doesn’t occur often.
    I enjoy a small dish of pistachio gelato before bed –many nights. (Not a huge bowl!)

  4. I was only sleeping 4 hours per night. Then I would get up and eat some fruit or ice cream.
    3 mg time release melatonin has worked for me.

    1. I can’t help with sleep issues. I take sleeping pills and call it a night. But Susan if you like mysteries check out Babylon Berlin on Netflix. It’s amazing and gets better with each episode.Stay well.

  5. I have also had this exact problem. I also found that Melatonin had very little effect Just as you mentioned, I had been trying to cut off eating in the early evening. I woke up one night and felt like my stomach acid was churning. Probably the Cortisol now that you mention it. I finally realized that stomach was reacting to being empty. I got up, made myself a half piece of whole wheat toast and shortly fell back to sleep much more quickly than I had been able to do for weeks. I came to the conclusion that I needed to eat a little something closer to bedtime. So far it has helped more than anything else I had tried. Thanks for this helpful information.

  6. I hope you keep us up to date on this subject. Not sleeping is the main problem in my life right now. I took prescription medication to sleep for years but went off of it several months ago. I’m lucky I get four hours sleep a night, if any at all.
    I’ve tried everything, nothing works. I’ll try the carbs before bedtime and see if that helps.

  7. I’m interested to hear about your results with the carb snack before bed. If I did that, I’d wake up shaky and slightly nauseated. I can’t have carbs before bed!

    Also, I’ve adapted to that wakeful period at 2 am to read a bit. Then I get a solid 2 hours of refreshing sleep around 4-5. Works well for me, but then I only have that wakefulness one or twice a week.

  8. This may not help many people but if only one other, it is worth it. I have been a horrible sleeper for years, waking up every few hours. Due to a cold and wanting to take cold medicine, I consulted with the pharmacist and switched my allergy medication from one that had a decongestant to one with no decongestant. It has been a miracle for me sleep wise for the past 5 months…I wake up maybe one time per night now. Spoke with the pharmacist who said that she experienced same…so so thankful randomly accidently found the answer, for me, to better sleep.

  9. I’m not the best sleeper either. I had a funny thought, I am always sleepy after thanksgiving dinner, maybe that’s the answer!

  10. I have worked hard at good sleep hygiene for a long time, and here are two additional things that help me:

    I tend to have a dry mouth, especially at night, a problem that many people develop as they grow older. I would wake every hour or two to drink a cople swallows of water, which led to more trips to the bathroom, and more mddle of the night wakefulness. I mentioned this to my dentist who gave me a prescription toothpaste which helps to prevent dry mouth, and its a small miracle. I sleep far better because of this toothpaste than I would have believed possible. (Prevident from Colgate)

    I learned, from a magazine, a breathing routine. I suspect that any such thing would do, but mine consists of a few very deep breaths and expulsions, followed by slower inhalations/exhalation, followed by a more even breathing pattern that mimics my sleep breathing. 90% of the time it puts me right back to sleep, mainly because it focuses my mind on something else, and keeps all those thoughts from racing in.

    1. Thank you for sharing this information. I had no idea that toothpaste could cause dry mouth and will be searching for a replacement toothpaste in Canada. You find the most helpful ideas in the “Comments” section sometimes! Thank you Susan for this topic today.

      1. I don’t know if the OTC tootpaste causes dry mouth, but the new tootpaste prevents it. I get it from my dentists office

  11. I have been battling Insomnia for years and last year I decided to get off all sleeping medication all together (been on it for ten) as they were becoming ineffective. I find I go to sleep for a little while usually about 1-2 hours and then I am fully awake and I have to go to another bedroom to read so not to wake my husband . Then I putter back to our bed around 4am and try again, but mostly he is snoring so now i really can’t sleep, so I go back to where I was before, and try again. I know the corridors in my house in the dark so well, trying not to wake everyone, I feel like Lady Macbeth. And I cannot seem to lose weight especailly belly fat which I am sure is all linked to my cronic sleeping problems. One day I am going to see a sleep specialist, if it covered by my insurance. But my mother, my daughter, and my siblings all have real sleep problems.

  12. I have your sleep pattern. I’m a morning person so once I wake up, my brain is activated. I took a sleep quiz on the Doctor Sleep site, and identified as a Dolphin. Apparently, they only need about
    6 1/2 hours sleep ( I function fine on 6 if it’s uninterrupted and I refuse to stress about not getting 8). I’ve read that melatonin production drops as we age. I take .5-1mg 30 minutes before bedtime. It doesn’t necessarily keep me asleep but helps me fall back asleep faster. I’ve recently started taking a low dose calcium supplement (high doses can be harmful) since I do not consume a lot of dairy. It works well with magnesium, K and D. I’m a work in progress.

  13. A cuddly, purry, small black cat. She is a miracle worker for sleep.

    I never had hot flashes etc either. Menopause was a delightful relief after years of period torture – horrible cramps and very heavy periods.

    I’m a very anxious person, but Livia calms me brilliantly. She is playing outdoors in our co-op garden.

    1. Oh my goodness, yes! At a particularly stressful time in my life my cat, who purrs loudly, would jump up on my pillow and sleep next to my head. The sound of her purring and the vibration of my pillow was heaven.

  14. Sounds like a lot of us are in the same boat! Keep us posted. I’m interested in knowing if this works.

  15. I’m very interested in what you and others have to say because I’ve suffered from sleep maintenance insomnia for many years. What’s helped for me is following sleep hygiene guidelines, especially “no caffeine after noon”, a cool temperature in the bedroom, a dark bedroom and earplugs (I’m a light sleeper) and managing anxiety as best as possible. Time released melatonin has helped, but I don’t like the way it makes me feel in the morning. Magnesium right before bedtime (through a supplement or foods like a banana) is also supposed to help. Some of my friends have found the sleep meditation apps helpful. Lastly, if it becomes chronic, consider going to see a good sleep medicine doctor. Good luck. Sleep is so very important to our physical and mental well-being!

  16. We have two things in common. The first thing is the waking up around 2 am and the inability to get comfortable.. The second is the “Faster Way to Weight loss program” (I joined based on your recommendation and a so glad I did!). I noticed something already on week one. On the Keto/hiit days, I didn’t sleep well. But on Wednesday, and Thursday, when I ate 45% carbs, I slept like a baby. I’m now wondering if my years of avoiding carbs has led to some hormonal imbalances, including insomnia.

  17. I am 56 and really didn’t suffer too much with night sweats or severe hot flashes and did not have a problem sleeping until this past year. I get up to use the bathroom about 3 times each night but am able to fall back asleep pretty quickly, unless my dog gets up and starts scratching or rolling around on the floor. I too have the dry mouth situation and tend to drink a lot before bed and during the night. I’ll have to look into the toothpaste. I also have restless leg syndrome but I take a pill for that. My biggest problem is falling asleep. Even though I’m drowsy, sometimes my body feels twitchy and I just can’t relax. Or my feet are too hot, too cold, or feel dry and irritated (hard to explain). To solve that, I have an aloe spray that I mist my feet with to kind of calm them down. Then when I do fall asleep, I will wake up around 5-10 minutes later and feel wide awake. Most times though, I am able to quickly fall back to sleep, but there is that moment of panic that I’m going to be up all night. I should try the deep breathing as I’m falling asleep to see if it relaxes me enough to stay asleep. I also realize that as we age, we apparently don’t need as much sleep as we used to, which is why my body is no longer interested in naps during the day. Oh how I loved to curl up on a chilly weekend afternoon and take a little snooze…. Lastly, in the cooler months I’ll have a cup of Nightly Calm tea (Twinings) about an hour or so before bed and that seems to help. Not sure if it’s the idea of drinking tea out of a lovely cup or the actual ingredients, but it is calming for me. Only problem is, it’s hot as all get out here and I don’t need one more thing to make me sweat.

    Long story short…it’s maddening and I feel your pain!

    1. Hi Kathy: I also have RLS. Would you mind sharing what medication has worked for you. I am struggling with this these days. Thank you!

      1. Kathy & Pam – I’ve found great relief from RLS using an organic magnesium cream that I use every few days at the back of my knees and on the outside of my thigh to relieve numbness from chemo. I find this works far better than an oral supplement and/or food. A game changer, actually.

      2. Pam, I take .25 mg of klonipin for the RLS. It’s not one of the newer drugs and I think it’s a cousin of Valium but I take such a low dose that it doesn’t even come in that dosage. I have to cut the pill in half. I found that I need to take it right after dinner as it takes awhile to work. That said, I’ve thought about discussing the newer options with my doctor to see if I should at least try one of those. My husband says sometimes I kick him all night but I sleep through it. Have you tried any meds?

        1. Oh my goodness, Kathy. This is exactly what I do!!! I have a straight edge razor that I cut the 0.5 in half. I have read so many negatives about Klonopin that I feel guilty taking it, but I have been to many sleep specialists who recommended this for RLS. Having said this, it does not seem to be working lately, but I will try taking it earlier. I think the concern is abuse of the drug, but I NEVER take it during the day. Anyway, this is a very frustrating condition and we just have to do the best we can. The drugs for Parkinson’s is the other option, but that opens another host of concerns. Sweet dreams!!

  18. I’ve experienced similar sleep problems for about 20 years and had tried EVERYTHING. After some hesitation, I finally tried CBD and it’s been a GAME CHANGER. Find a high quality source and a knowledgeable dosage consultant. Highly recommend!

    1. Hi Beth,
      Completely agree, a well sourced organic CBD product specifically targeted for sleep works well for us.

  19. All sounds very familiar. But I wonder how long a try you gave melatonin. It seems to me that the longer I take it the more it helps.

    Alcohol is my prime suspect, but I really hate to give it all up

  20. What a good topic, and seemingly relevant to many of your readers. Recently, I read an article in Time Magazine. The author’s premise is that not everyone needs the “recommended” eight hours of sleep.
    That being said, until I was in my late 30’s, I could sleep through anything. Never a night owl, I’d retire early and wake early as per your pattern. As I aged, things changed and I would go through times where I was experiencing much of what you have described. I blamed it on all sorts of things including menopause (night sweats are the pits), alcohol, the room is too hot, the room is too cold, bed isn’t quite right — you name it. But in the end, I think it was stress that caused me to have a restless sleep most of the nights where I experienced waking, but not being able to get back to dreamland. My average number of sleep hours was six, and seven on a really good night.

    Now that I’m retired, my sleep has improved to the point that most nights I’m sleeping 8 – 9 hours. Though I do have some wakeful nights, I don’t worry about “oh no, I have to get up for work at …”

    Developing good sleep hygiene is critical. Here are some of the practices that have been beneficial for me.

    NEVER look at the clock when you wake in the night. That’s the kiss of death if by some chance you can’t get back to sleep, and even if you can, eventually. Rather than trying to measure the number of hours, I know I am more successful by judging my night’s sleep on how I feel the next day. Surprisingly, I know there are nights when I have slept little, but still feel fine in the morning because I wasn’t clock watching.

    Try audiobooks to lull you back to sleep. I set the timer for 30 minutes and rarely make it to the end of that time before I’m back to sleep.

    I’m a “hot” sleeper, so I keep minimal covers on, even if I’m a bit cool when I first get into bed. That makes a huge difference for me in staying asleep because I don’t wake up “too hot” in the first place.

    A comfortable mattress and good linens help as well.

    I wish you all, good dreaming!

  21. Can anyone testify pro or con to SLIP silk pillowcases? Are they worth the money? Do they stay cool all night? Thanks in advance

    1. Hi NW, I’ve used one for a couple of years now and love it. I don’t know that it necessarily stays cooler, but I wake up without creases on my face and it really reduces “bedhead.”

    2. Absolutely worth every penny! My pillow is now always cool and comfortable and my sleep much better. As Susan has mentioned, they are on sale at Nordstrom right now, although maybe sold out. I would pay full price with no hesitation.

  22. I had this issue when I was on a strict diet. It can be a shortage of potassium and magnesium. Taking a supplement at night can help this. Most seniors don’t get enough. And eating 2 to 3 dates per day or s very helpful.

    1. Linda, my parents live in a retirement community with a communal dining room. Every night as the residents leave the dining room, they are each given a banana. Now I realize maybe it’s to help them sleep!
      Thankfully I have few problems sleeping, but on the rare night I can’t doze off or wake up worrying, focusing on my breath usually puts me out in a matter of minutes.
      I also highly recommend earplugs. As I’ve gotten older, the least noise wakes me up. With a restless dog and a teen in the house, there are frequent late night disturbances, but with earplugs in I sleep much more soundly.

  23. I have this same waking problem. I am beginning to think that it is almost universal among women OF A CERTAIN AGE! Obviously, many of us have tried multiple solutions. Some work and some do not. Or, some work only for a short time. I wonder if any commenters have found that a new mattress helps, and if so, what kind? I have searched diligently for a new one, and the more I research them, the more confused I become! HELP!

  24. Château de Chenonceau is THE sweetest château ever! I have a very similar photo that I took in 2009 when I was a chaperone for my son’s high school French class. 19 kids and 5 adults. It was a great trip. Seriously. Visually, this château was one of my favorites, and its history is pretty interesting too. Thanks for the wonderful visual with my morning coffee.
    And sleep issues.. ugh! Thanks to you and the other commenters for things to try.

  25. I LOVE the green top you’re wearing on her blog. Gorgeous.

    I slept like the dead from 11:30pm-4am and then woke up to pee and couldn’t get back to sleep. Went downstairs at 6 and read till 7 and then went back to sleep for an hour. Woke up very grouchy.

  26. Ah…sleep…I’m not a carb eater but I don’t get hungry at night either if my eating and exercise patterns are proper through the day.

    I would highly recommend you get a sleep study to find out if you have any sleep apnea. My husband wears a CPAP and sleeps like a log now….side benefit is that I sleep too now that he isnt snoring!

    I do recommend a nice warm cup of chamomile tea at bedtime!

    Finally, I sent an email via the envelope icon about the color of that EF linen and cotton sweater in your early August post. The color was clear and lovely. Mine arrived from EF and it is dull and muddy. Where did you purchase yours?

    1. Hi Jan, are you referring to the Marigold? What I’ve noticed lately with some EF pieces is that there can be some variation between dye lots. I’m assuming this is because they are using more natural dyes. What I did find with this sweater is that it brightened up after a couple of washings, too. I wash in a lingerie bag in the machine, cold water, gentle cycle. Then dry flat on a rack. I haven’t seen your email, sorry about that!

  27. This helped me so it will help everyone! This did not help me so it will not help anyone! I have often read these opinions in my 27 years of post-menopausal insomnia. I am grateful to those here and elsewhere for suggestions which avoid absolutes.

    Two on-line articles which helped me are Eliminating the Top Causes of Insomnia by Julia Ross, focusing on amino acid and cortisol-lowering through diet and supplements, and Tried Everything but You STILL Can’t Sleep? by Laura G. Owens, focusing on adrenal fatigue.

    I have tried many different diet and supplement remedies which helped but not enough to prevent waking 4-6 times a night. Even when falling quickly back to sleep, the morning is bleak. Several times a month I wake up for the day at 3:00 or 4:00. When this problem began, I took Ambien once but had amnesia for an event in the middle of the night, so never again. A quarter to half a milligram of Ativan is usually effective but I take it sparingly, e.g, a few times a month, so as not to become dependent. Marijuana cookies have a similar effect.

    Several years ago I began taking a supplement with a low dose of phenibut, an altered form of an amino acid, which was very helpful at first but became less so. About a year ago the FDA prohibited dietary supplements including phenibut so I have been slowly tapering off it. In August 2019, through comments to a New York Times article on insomnia, I found a supplement containing small doses of Chinese and Western herbs. I took it in combination with magnesium and two amino acids. For seven months I routinely slept well, after 26 years. I had the energy to lead a more normal life rather than struggling to exercise, be a cheerful companion to my husband, to be a good friend, all of which were difficult due to fatigue.

    In March, as we shut down here in California, the old pattern resumed. My guess is it was not just the stress but not walking an hour a day which I did not do for exercise per se but to get where I needed to go. Then the herbal supplement was withdrawn because at least some batches had a trace of a molecule like that in the sleeping pill Lunesta. Laugh or cry? When I ran out of the supplement my sleep was no worse, so I doubt that it was addictive, but when I found a source, bought enough for a year and resumed taking it, my good sleep returned. I take it three nights a week so have three normal days on which I am doing the Couch to 5k running program.

    My goal is ultimately to establish normal sleep through exercise and to discontinue all supplements. I know exercise is recommended for insomniacs but after a bad night all I can do is get up, dress, do household chores…..Now I am working on what might help on the other four days. I’ll be reading this blog in hope!

    Susan, thank you for the subject.

  28. The worst thing for my sleep, in my experience (even when I was young), is fretting too much about not being able to sleep and listening to stories from people with chronic insomnia or sleeping disturbances! Seriously. The power of (negative) suggestion is unnerving. As I’ve aged, I’ve tried to learn to go with my natural sleep cycles, which have gotten MUCH later than they were when I was young or had an early work schedule I needed to conform to. I almost always get eight hours a day, on AVERAGE, over seven days, but it may be broken into up into irregular chunks. Never was much of a drinker, but I’ve found a 7 oz. Heineken while I’m preparing dinner around 7:00 pm usually helps me sleep better. I’ve also found ZERO correlation between caffeine intake – either when I consume it or how much – and my sleep patterns. And now that I’m back to eating only within a 12- or 14-hour window, I’m not going to be eating before bed, even if it would help. I gave up late-night eating when I was young because of reflux issues, and I don’t want them back, even if it means less sleep. I think, as with weight control, what works for one person isn’t going to necessarily work for another. Trial and error and finding what works for YOU is key IMHO.

  29. I’ve also been doing acupuncture for sleep and it’s helped immensely. I also keep my room at a level temperature.

  30. My husband and I have had good results with a meditation App called iSleep Easy Free. The sleep app lasts 13 minutes and you can choose your background. I like the ocean sounds and set it for the sounds to continue 30 minutes after the voice stops. The voice is very soothing and so is the background. I find it conducive to sleep but think part of it may be like Pavlov’s dog. Now when we hear it we know it is time to sleep. It doesn’t matter how as long as it works. I think you have to use it long enough to get used to it. I also like the 4-7-8 breathing technique by Dr. Andrew Weil. It can be found online also.

  31. I too used to suffer from sleep issues. Awake between three and five a.m. and sometimes longer. I started to keep track of my sleepless nights and found a relation to the phases of the moon. Who knew? Now, when I have difficulty sleeping I take a capsule containing magnesium (to relax muscles), GABA ( to turn off a racing brain), and melatonin (to promote sleep). It works well for me and I only take it as needed. Also, avoiding late night snacking has helped.

  32. I have severe issomia so I know what it likes to feel so tired and still have to get through with all you have to do every day. I have a restless mind that just will not shut down at night. I’ve tried a lot of things but nothing works. On ocassion if I have hot tea with milk and honey, take a Goody, I can get a couple of hours at around 5 when I feed my cat. It doesn’t always work though,
    When I can no longer handle the fatigue I take a sleeping pill called Restoril. But only for one night. Then off for another week or two without sleep. I think there are some things we just have to live with. I’ll say a prayer for all those in the boat with me.

  33. This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray.
    I don’t actually spray my pillowcase or pillow but, instead, just before bed I lightly spray on a dry washcloth. Let it dry a bit and then take a few deep breaths with the cloth close to but not touching my nose.
    I never thought what we called in the 70’s ‘Aromatherapy’ actually worked, but this lovely spray does.
    The trick is to have a very light hand when spraying. I leave the washcloth in the bathroom and if nature calls in the middle of the night, I take another deep breath without respraying.

  34. I have the opposite problem. I can’t wake up! I once slept through a 6.5 earthquake. Do you dream? Do you remember your dreams? I wonder if that has an effect on insomnia.

  35. Consider having an over night sleep study. It is possible you have some form of a sleep disorder, possibly sleep apnoea. The risk of sleep apnoea increases markedly for women post menopause. If you are sleeping correctly the body should excrete the anti diruretic hormone and hence no need to get up for a wee. So this sign is also a suggestion of a sleep disorder. For more severe cases a CPAP machine is used however a sleep appliance may be able to be made by a dentist with knowledge of these appliances. Good luck !

  36. A word of caution about melatonin: It can cause very vivid, disturbing dreams. I used to take melatonin to help manage jet lag, but have had to stop after experiencing nightmares, even if taking a very low dosage. I have read that some people do experience this side effect.

  37. This is a great post and the thread is interesting. Several years ago my Mother was diagnosed with dementia. Her sleep was crazy off the wall; no sleep for 48 hours, crash for 18, etc. Prescription medications did not help. So I put on my Dr. Google hat and did some research. I didn’t find a lot to help her but I did find a lot about shift sleeping. I don’t have the sites I found then but the one below popped up when I did a quick search after reading this. There’s lots of research about a more normal way to sleep (for some, not everyone) is this 2 shift sleep pattern that our ancestors used. Basically you sleep a few hours and when you wake up, get up, do some activity/ies, then when you feel sleepy go back to bed. I remembered my grandmother would cook at 2 or 3 in the morning and go back to bed and I now wonder now if that was why. This does not fit with the way our society runs today! But now that I’ve retired I have tried it and for me I do wake up the 2nd time feeling more refreshed! But of course there is always tequila when all else fails!

  38. For those who mentioned RLS, I have found three things that help. I began using children’s Pedialyte for a different matter and was surprised to find it eliminated my RLS and foot cramps as well. Another solution is to warm up your legs. I use one of the “bean bag type things” filled with cherry pits that you heat up in the microwave. Another that always works for me is to apply Biofreeze or Perform gel to my legs before I go to bed. I prefer to use something like this rather than a drug that sometimes has side effects.

  39. I used to have great difficulty falling asleep/staying asleep. Here’s what we (hubby and I) did: we purchased a Tempur-pedic mattress (added a thick mattress pad for about 1 year as mattress is initially “hard”) with the “box spring” with the adjustable head portion (always sleep with it elevated about 3-4 inches which is good for GERD/LPR and sinus issues); I finally went back on HRT for my extremely disturbing night sweats (and my osteoporosis), keep the room cool to cold at night, and finally, added a sleep mask. I now sleep like a baby, falling asleep very quickly and going back to sleep quickly when I need to get up in the middle of the night (try not to drink too much water or other liquid before bed). Personally, I think the sleep mask has made the biggest improvement as I know sleep quite deeply also. A glass of wine in the evening also helps, as does decaf (coffee or tea) after 2:00 pm). Good luck!

  40. I, too, wake up most nights around 2:00am and struggle to go back to sleep. There is so much helpful information frOm this community. I realize I’m not alone!

  41. Similar issues with hot flashes and mood swings finally sent me to my gynecologist. I did not realize sleep disruption was also a thing related to loss of hormones. HRT has totally solved my issue. I slept so well within 2 or 3 nights, I was convinced.

  42. How amazing are these responses Susan!? Mention sleep to women and it opens up communication like almost nothing else! I once mentioned to my doctor that I was always waking up at 4 am, often right on the dot, and he chuckled, saying it is the most common time of death in hospitals! The human body just sinks into some different mode, body temp drops, and it seems to be enough of a change to wake a healthy sleeper.
    I get up to make a piece of toast and it is like a drug, I am usually back to sleep within 20 minutes. Maybe it’s mind over matter, but it works so reliably that I make sure I leave “carb” room for it during my day!

  43. I am one of these annoying women who sleeps really well. Eight to nine hours a night. Indeed, I usually wake up for a wee (caused by drinking something after 20.00 hours), but I immediately go back to sleep. And to think that I only got 7 hours of sleep for 20 years while I was working. Not good for my body.
    I am surprised that Melatonin doesn’t help. Ron has little sleeping pills called Oxacepam and if I am correct that is based on Melatonin. Very rarely I steal one of him and it really helps.

  44. i won’t get too wordy here but i feel that most people sleep on a mattress that is too soft. about 3 yrs ago, i bought a very expensive plush mattress, but i never slept well.

    so this year i bought another new mattress. extra firm! this is very hard so you need to add a foam topper. but that did it. i sleep much better now.

    i also will suggest Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra tea before bed.

    and for those discussing dry mouth, Biotine has a full line of products. toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, etc. you can probably find it online if it’s not available at your local store. that might be cheaper than an rx.

  45. To answer the question about the Pedialyte, I prefer using the powder rather than the bottles that come prepared like Gatorade. There are eight flavored packs in a box and you just mix one pack with water. It tastes like Kool Aid. It is sometimes hard to find the powder in drug stores and grocery stores so I order three boxes at a time from Amazon. It is also cheaper that way. I assume the prepared liquid would work but have not tried it as I don’t like the taste of Gatorade and thought it might be similar.

  46. I suffer from RLS which is very disruptive to sound sleep. I read an article that discussed low iron as a possible cause for RLS. I mentioned this to my doctor and she suggested I take a ferritin test. The results indicated that I had low ferritin levels. The doctor suggested I take an iron supplement along with a vitamin C tablet. It has taken about 6 months to bring my ferritin level up, and the RLS has basically disappeared. It may be something to discuss with your doctor.

  47. The pedialyte is providing electrolytes like Mg and K which many older women are missing. If you are on a diuretic you can ask your doc about a potassium sparing alternative. With so many people doing Keto diets with little fruit especially those verboten bananas and our growing fields so depleted of nutrients we are bound to see dips in major electrolytes so supplementS of potassium and magnesium are often needed. Check with your doctor first.
    As an aside and I haven’t seen it mentioned, waking at 3-4 am regularly can be a sign of depression. It happened to me for several years until I mentioned it to my doctor, I was eventually diagnosed with clinical depression. Once I was treated my sleep improved. Psychotherapy was my sleep helper not the meds.
    I have also moved into the guest room as my husband’s snoring is off the charts and I still work so I need my Zzz’s. I have a smart watch that tracks sleep patterns and mine were terrible…and I was exhausted all the time. The dog and I head to the guest room and we both sleep much better. Also I prefer a really chilly room.
    My 95 year old father always has a small bowl of cereal and milk before bed and sleeps “like a top”!

  48. I sleep like this too and, after a few years of this pattern, have decided it is quite normal. Inconvenient at times, but I don’t do anything to prevent it now. Sometimes, between 2am and 4am, I am a philosophical genius. Unfortunately, I have forgotten my theses by 8am. I seem to function quite well and have a back-up plan if I need it (get up, cup of tea, sleep in spare room) but just keeping that tucked away has removed the anxiety I used to feel and I haven’t used it yet. Looking back, I haven’t slept for a straight hours since I had children – almost 30 years – so this is my pattern, for good or ill. Welcome to the club.

  49. I am 62 years of age and I’ve had sleep problems for a number of years. Four years ago, I began waking up with headaches. After a month or so of this, I went to the doctor and was referred to a neurologist. The neurologist ruled out a number of problems, but she sent me for a sleep study. Although I do not fit the profile for sleep apnea, that was my diagnosis. I’m not a snorer, but I do stop breathing when I am sleeping. It has taken me years to get used to the CPAP machine and on some level I suppose I will never be totally used to it, but I continue because I consider it my lifeline. I even have a travel CPAP. The problem is the CPAP is a cumbersome foreign object of sorts, so it adds to my insomnia dilemma. These are the things that have helped me: Sleep Mask – every night; Lavender Oil (mixed with carrier oil) on bottom of feet and inside wrists-occasionally; Chamomile Tea-occasionally; Kiwi – regularly. For those of you who are okay with a snack 60 minutes before bed, the kiwi may work. I usually mix in a handful of blueberries and one ounce of cheese or several almonds.. Kiwi has a good amount of seratonin. I have not gained weight with this nighttime snack and I do not have belly fat. Thankfully, I do not require a lot of sleep time. Seven hours is good for me, but I can function with six hours, anything less and I am dragging. Typically, I do not wake up during the night, not even for a bathroom break.

  50. I eat dinner at five. No alcohol. Alcohol only at lunch – rarely. If we go out to dinner with friends, I still eat at 5 and order something at the restaurant that reheats well the next day, when the meal arrives, I pick at it, I don’t make a big deal of it, I just have it packed to go. Works for me, as well as the not technology/TV etc.

  51. My husband is a glow worm between 3:00/4:00am, almost everynight. Thankfully, I sleep through the Ipad glow! Excellent sleep tips, thanks. I’m going to pass along to him!
    I just finished reading your interview, nicely done. I enjoyed the blog, I was not familiar with it. I subscribed.
    Thanks, Susan

  52. Believe it or not, Susan, I remembered this post when I woke up in the wee hours and (not for the first time) felt that my blood sugar might be low and keeping me up. I’m curious if you’ve kept up this habit of having a snack at the end of your feeding window and if it’s helped your sleep. Thank you!

  53. I have had sleep problems since my mid 40’s (now 62) so I can relate. I’m reading an excellent book, Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, PhD.
    I highly recommend it!