Guest Post by Lisa Bullock
It’s stupid o’clock here in Melbourne! Another night of sleeplessness and I’m wondering if anyone is on Facebook at 2.30am? Surely there must be a host of over 40’s women who’ll want to hang out with me in the middle of the night because they can’t sleep either? Maybe we can start an on-line Book Club and we’ll all meet in the wee hours to chat?
I know I’m not alone because this very subject was the main topic of conversation in one of my classes this week. One of my favourite sessions of the week is with a group of women who have trained with me for nearly ten years. Their average age is 60 and these are some tough chickies! They’re all extremely active, travel frequently, work around injuries and generally just get on with life with gusto and enjoyment! But virtually none of them sleep through the night!
Various options were tossed around; meditation, alcohol before bed (my frivolous vote!), no alcohol before bed (my professional vote), melatonin, hot milk, herbal teas and other solutions were discussed.
So what’s the deal? Are not a lifetime of periods, nausea and bloating in pregnancy, childbirth and then menopause enough for us women to put up with? Um, no?
A National Sleep Foundation US poll in 2005 indicated that more women than men suffer from sleeplessness, and that while our bodies require a minimum of 7-9 hours sleep to gain adequate rest, on average women get 6 hours 41 mins sleep. Insomnia has been linked to menopause and pregnancy, with resultant changes in habitual sleep patterns as well as to stress and depression.
(I, of course blame my husband, if he didn’t snore I’d be able to sleep properly!!!!! Would he notice if I just put a peg on his nose one night? Or a pillow, lol!!!!)
But there are strategies you can use yourself. Establishing routines are really important in gaining a better nights sleep; set a schedule for bedtime and waking up. Improve your sleep environment, make it comfortable and check that you have a good quality mattress and pillow. There are times when I just feel like Goldilocks “this pillow is too hard”, “this pillow is too soft”….
Improving diet and reducing caffeine will also be beneficial. Herbal teas work wonders for some, and do nothing for others! So experiment with different brands for taste and effectiveness. Set up a bedtime routine where you relax into bed – avoid TV and the computer for half an hour before sleeping and if you’re a reader, choose a book that’s not overly stimulating. Light some aromatherapy candles and sink into a scented bath! Enjoy your herbal tea and allow your mind and body to slow down.
Recent research also found that post-menopausal women found benefit from exercising earlier in the day and got better quality sleep and found it easier to fall asleep than women who exercise later at night. Just remember, this is a balancing act! The only workout you’ll regret is the one you don’t do, so if the only time you have available to workout is at night, ensure you get adequate time to calm your adrenal system before bed.
Sleep apnoea is on the increase too! And because being overweight is a major risk factor for sleep apnoea, a combined approach to healthy diet and exercise is essential. The risk to women over 50 is higher and is believed to be linked to the increase in abdominal fat during menopause.
If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still struggling – it may be time to speak to your Doctor about natural medications like Melatonin. Melatonin is your “sleep hormone” and is key in helping regulate your body clock in its sleep and wakefulness cycle. There are no known side-effects but you should discuss differing medical regulations for your area with your Doctor or pharmacist.
Female Fat Loss over Forty has it’s own dedicated Sleep Manual as part of the program – it’s that typical a problem to women of our age! Please share your experiences of how you improved your insomnia– there are a lot of women who would benefit from your knowledge! Stand in line ladies, I was here first!
Lisa Bullock is a Personal Trainer based in Melbourne, Australia. She’s run her successful fitness business for over 15 years and has trained over a 1000 clients helping them reach their health, fitness and wellness goals. Married for 27 years and mother to a daughter (22) and son (19), she is a proud proponent of the philosophy “keep on keeping on”. She believes that consistency is key to achieving goals. Lisa loves weight training with a passion; she’s boxed for over 12 years and sees no reason to stop soon! She’s faced her own health and weight issues and come out fighting. “I believe in training for the long haul” she claims, “I fully expect to be doing handstand push ups when I’m 60!.”