Dormez-vous?

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…

Stay in touch.

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76 Comments

  1. Annie Green
    August 30, 2020 / 1:07 am

    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.

  2. Carol
    August 30, 2020 / 5:59 am

    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.

  3. Mudra
    August 30, 2020 / 9:29 am

    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.

  4. August 31, 2020 / 9:32 am

    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

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