By Rachel Lankester
It can be really hard getting a good night’s sleep in midlife! There are so many things to potentially keep us awake aren’t there! Not to mention the merry dance our hormones can take us on in the perimenopausal years. How to sleep better at this time of life?
Summer time seems to be particularly tricky, when the heat kicks in to add to our already overly hot body temperature! Open windows anyone? Getting sweaty takes on a whole other meaning, huh!
I’m lucky to never have had really bad hot flashes or night sweats. That all changes if I’ve had an alcoholic beverage or two though. I can often wake up and feel that overwhelming heat rising from my chest and enveloping my head. Then I can get quickly hot and sticky!
And I’ve talked to many women who really suffer with night sweats and sleepless nights. And especially when it’s hot in general.
So when Silentnight got in touch asking me to try our their new cooling pillow, I thought I’d give it a try. The Silentnight Cotton Breeze Memory Foam Pillow has, they say, a unique perforated memory foam shell, which generates increased air movement to help maintain a cooler sleeping surface and encourages deeper, more restful sleep. The blurb says it has a memory foam centre, providing a firm core wrapped in soft hollowfibre to provide an adaptive pillow for back and side sleepers.
Disclosure: This is a paid partnership with Silent Night (click here for our full disclosure).
I’m usually a fan of soft feather filled pillows and generally use two. So a memory foam one, even if filled with soft hollowfibre is a bit of a departure for me. The one they sent me is also a 6 on their firmness rating scale, so I have to confess I was a little skeptical. At first it felt a little hard for me. But when I lay down on the second night it already felt really rather comfortable. And by night three I was completely acclimatized.
I have to say I’ve been sleeping really quite well. And it’s been seriously hot in my neighbourhood too. I think a softer version might suit me better, as I like to sleep both on my side and my back and it’s quite high for back sleeping, but generally it’s rather good. Of course there may be other variables, like hubby not snoring quite as much and me being a bit more relaxed than is often the case. But I’m definitely liking this new pillow and hubby wants to try it out too! Not sure how I feel about that!
If you’d like to try out the Silentnight Cotton Breeze cooling pillow, here it is on QVC.
So, apart from getting the bedding right, what else can we do to help ourselves get a good night’s sleep? I recently did a whole workshop on sleep for the Magnificent Midlife Members Club and I learnt a lot!
Here are some more tips to help you get more good quality shuteye:
Work out how much you need and make it a priority. If you need to get up at 7 and you want 8 hours, you need to go to sleep by 11 at the latest and probably earlier to allow yourself drift off time. You’ll need to factor in an hour for wind-down time too. Think about the bedtime routine we use with babies to get to sleep. We need that too! So cut back on screen time and electronic lights in the bedroom before bed. Turn down the lights. Watch a bit less TV late at night.
Cut back on the things that keep you awake
Cut back on caffeine, sugar and alcohol as these are known to keep us awake. You may think that glass of wine helps you to wind down, but when the sugar kicks in later on, you may wake up and struggle to get back to sleep again. Similarly don’t eat late. Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Use earplugs and an eye mask if this helps you get to and stay asleep. Some people believe electronics can interfere with sleep so try keeping those out of the bedroom.
Create strong boundaries around sleep
Carve out the time you need for sleep. If you can’t sleep next to a snoring partner and have an alternative place, use it. Your quality and quantity of sleep are of paramount importance. It is seriously bad for your health to not sleep well. You can tell your partner I said so! Also when it’s sleep time, focus on sleep. Even if you’re lying awake, try to stay in bed resting. Don’t get up and do other stuff. Set boundaries for what you allow yourself to think about too. If you’re ruminating on stuff, tell yourself not to. Say to yourself, “this is not the time to be thinking about that” and try to think about sleep. This is the basics of trying to be more mindful about sleep time.
Try a little meditation
If you’re really stuck, try listening to a sleep meditation on a free app like Insight Timer, but don’t get sucked into checking your phone while you’re doing that! If you’re lying awake, use the time to meditate in bed and you’ll hopefully drift off as you clear your mind – that’s a top tip from Arianna Huffington.
Another thing to try is tapping. This is a new one for me but a woman who’d been through a surgical menopause with no HRT absolutely swears by the sleep tapping meditations on The Tapping Solution app. She doesn’t care if it’s just a placebo effect. It works and that’s all that matters! I’ve been trying it too recently in an effort to deepen my sleep and I’m finding it very helpful.
Difficulty sleeping is very common in the perimenopause/menopause years. You can read more from me about getting your hormones in balance to support good sleep here. If insomnia becomes a big issue though, and you are post-menopause, don’t assume this is normal and how life is going to be. It’s not. Get help from an insomnia specialist to deal with it as there may well be deeper issues impacting your sleep. Don’t suffer when it can be fixed with help.
I hope you get the rest you need, while the heat is on and when it’s cool!
Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. She’s had several careers, including banking and PR, but most loves what she’s doing now – helping like-minded women in midlife and beyond feel great and live life to the fullest. She’s rather introverted but still has lots to say, particularly about challenging the negative stereotypes associated with older women. She believes we just get better with age not worse. She loves yoga, running, singing, travel and most things techy. Find out more about Rachel at Magnificent Midlife.