We’ve reached that age, my friends.
The age where conversations with girlfriends return time and again to perimenopausal symptoms. If it’s possible, we’re also having the talk with our moms, learning what we might expect. Some of us may also be visiting an understanding OB-GYN. We spend time Googling for information, reading articles and books to see whether what we’re experiencing is normal. Our partners may look on in puzzlement, wanting to help but not knowing how.
Even more likely, we want to know what we can DO about all of this. Like the transition into our fertile time, we’re looking for ways to continue doing all the things we want (or need) to do while these changes are happening inside our minds and bodies.
Hot Flashes Aren’t So Hot
A few years ago, I remember joking with slightly older women that I would welcome hot flashes when they came. “I’m always cold,” I’d explain. “It will be nice to finally feel warm.” These wise women looked at me with the “bless your heart” eyes I came to know about while briefly living in Texas. Now I understand: my feet and hands can still be ice cubes while the rest of my body feels like it’s on fire.
Hot flashes are my predominant symptom. I first noticed that on the months my period was absent, the hot flashes would arrive. Some months, I’d rather just have a period. (The devil you know is sometimes better than the devil you don’t.) But this isn’t always the case now. Sometimes the hot flashes will be there regardless; they’re something to adjust to, to co-exist with.
Since Sleep Wellness Coaching is my thing, I’m well aware of the impact hot flashes (and specifically night sweats) have on the quality of my sleep. I also know about the massive toll NOT sleeping well can have on one’s health: currently, the high functioning of the immune system being top of my mind. This is also the time, perhaps, we’re laying the groundwork for future dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a time to make sleep a priority.
Let’s face it: many of us didn’t have good sleeping experiences before these issues threatened to disrupt our slumber. How then are we to help ourselves through?
How to Sleep Despite Hot Flashes
Here are 10 natural ways to help yourself get better sleep despite the heat of hot flashes.
5 Before Bed
- Take a lukewarm or slightly cool shower.
- Rub your feet with a coconut-based oil. In Ayurveda, this helps calm Pitta (the fiery constitution characteristic of excess heat).
- Slip a silk pillowcase onto your pillow to help cool your head. (This is the one I have.)
- Place a spare set of PJs nearby. If you wake up drenched in the middle of the night, you can change easily.
- Prepare a lavender face cloth. Wet a face cloth with water & add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Place the cloth on your forehead, on your lower abdomen, or anywhere else you’d like to feel cooler.
5 During the Day
- Ingest cooling foods. Cucumbers, watermelons, coconut-based items (oils, waters, milks, etc.). Limit or avoid heating foods, such as red meat, spicy and/or fried foods.
- Reduce heating beverages. Unfortunately, alcohol and coffee fall into this category.
- Instead, nourish yourself with supportive teas. CCF tea is a favorite of mine. I’ve also found relief from having a cup of oat straw tea just before bed.
- Reconsider your yoga practice. Some women will feel better incorporating more restorative, cooling practices. Others will benefit from having an outlet for the excess heat. If you’re not sure what to practice, consider working with an experienced teacher.
- Practice BRFWA—Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow. This time is one of transformation. Can you practice self-compassion and self-love through the discomfort? Can you embrace the idea that from this (temporary) challenge, your power as a woman will grow? Consider reading “New Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman’s Way” by Susan Weed.
Do you have another technique that helps you sleep better while dealing with the heat created by perimenopause? If so, comment and let me know!