I’ve always loved my sleep, but this past year I’ve superseded all previous records for just how much I can sleep and how often.
We all know that the excuse to ‘nap’ is one of the biggest benefits of ageing for both men and women, but when you sleep for ten hours or more a night and still feel you like a complete bitch the next morning, that’s got to be symptomatic of a little more than just ageing. Anyway, the old man is like a prime minister, and can survive on very little sleep these days, while I wake up after ten hours, as irritable and bad-tempered as when I went to bed.
So the culprit has to be menopause.
Admittedly, I don’t sleep deeply, like I used to. A lower back pain problem has resurfaced over the past few weeks so I’m finding it difficult to find a comfortable sleep position – the story of my life, having recently conquered my lifelong intolerance to exercise by finally discovering an exercise routine that works for me
Then there are the additional problems of sleep disturbance caused by anything from noisy revellers in the street four floors beneath us, to Kurt not coming home by his curfew and then making toast in the kitchen, or the Princess snoring loudly in the bed next to me. Not forgetting the disruption caused by the nightly nagging of the call of nature; that annoying, niggling little reminder that your bladder is not as young as it used to be… but since you’re awake….
And when I do wake up, usually around 3.30am, I can’t just doze back off again in the space of a few seconds, like I trained myself to when the kids were newborns. I lie there and over-think…and worry…and get all cross about the unfairness of life – particularly the part where the old man can sleep so inordinately deeply while I’m stranded in insomniac hell.
Apparently, the fatigue and lack of energy in menopause are due to fluctuating hormone levels, (particularly Oestrogen), and stress and anxiety can compound the problem; once again, I hit the jackpot.
If you want the science behind it, read this, but below are some simple changes that can help:
Cut your caffeine. I did this a few months to help with my Rosacea and although at times I still look like Two-Face in Batman, it seems to have had a more positive effect on my sleep patterns. It has also helped reduce the night sweats – although that might also have something to do with the onset of Autumn which has pulled us out of the nightly furnace of Sydney’s summer humidity.
Drink less alcohol – I know… boo, hiss, fuckity fuck fuck!… but it simply doesn’t contribute to a good night’s sleep.
Avoid using electronic devices right before you go to sleep and revert back to the good, old-fashioned book. I picked up this advice a while ago when I was trying to resolve Kurt’s sleep issues, a common problem for people with ADHD. Having studied it ad infinitum at high school, I can strongly recommend Middlemarch by George Elliot as the most effectively tranquillising of reading materials.
If, unlike me, you aren’t fortunate enough to have the excuse of a really serious sports injury that prevents you from getting out there with other serious-minded professional sports people, you need to exercise. I know the whole premise of exercise giving you more energy just isn’t logical, but apparently it also makes is produce those endorphin-thingummys that make you feel good about yourself.
Learn to relax – personally, this has never been a problem for me, and if you find some success with my second recommendation but then feel that life is no longer worth living, a script for medical marijuana should help, the added bonus being that you’ll sleep like a baby.