13 May 5 ways to get better pre-period and perimenopausal sleep
BY GABRIELLE LICHTERMAN
Frustrated by lousy sleep during your premenstrual phase cycle after cycle? Sleep gotten shorter or less restful during perimenopause? You’re not alone.
Insomnia and restless sleep are common on pre-period days due to plunging estrogen. As the level of this hormone drops, it can make it more difficult to fall asleep or get deep, restful sleep by dragging down the brain’s level of sleep-promoting serotonin. What’s more, a dip in estrogen can trigger aches and anxiety, and make you more sensitive to noise, light and other sleep-robbers that lead to lighter sleep and frequent nighttime awakenings.
If you’re in perimenopause (the five to 10 years leading up to menopause when cycles stop), estrogen can be partly to blame for worse sleep. An overall lower level of estrogen, plus erratically fluctuating level of this hormone, can throw the processes in your body that manage sleep out of kilter. The result is that it can be more difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep and get the kind of deep zzzs that have you waking up feeling fully refreshed.
As you probably already know, a bad night’s sleep means slogging through your day foggy-headed and tired. But, that’s not the only problem it causes: Studies show that too little sleep and tossing and turning worsens moods, spurs food cravings and intensifies pain.
The good news? There are plenty of research-backed ways to fall asleep faster and get more refreshing sleep without resorting to sleeping pills. Here are five of my favorites that may help you:
1. Overcome insomnia with a wristband
There’s a type wristband available at drugstores and online retailers that’s study-proven to relieve nausea by gently pressing a certain acupressure point (P6 or Nei-Kuan) on your inner wrist. What’s this got to do with your sleep problems? Well, researchers discovered this anti-nausea bracelet also gets you to sleep faster and helps you get a deeper, more restful snooze.(1,2) As the scientists explain it, stimulating this point on your wrist relaxes you. If you’re nauseous, this relaxation effect eases tense stomach muscles that add to your queasiness. And if you’re having trouble falling asleep, it helps you nod off sooner and get more restful zzzs. One to try: Sea-Band, which is the same wristband researchers used in one study and sells for about $8.50.
2. Lull yourself to sleep with slow tunes
Listen to an hour of relaxing, slow-tempo music before bedtime and you’ll nod off faster and enjoy higher-quality sleep, according to a review of 10 studies in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.(3) Soothing tunes ease physical tension, which helps your body prepare for bedtime. Busy doing tasks up till the moment you turn in? Playing slow music in the background still works to wind you down.
3. Wake up well-rested by listening to a soothing voice
To get a longer, deeper snooze tonight, try listening to a soothing, hypnotic voice encouraging you to get a good night’s sleep as you lay in bed, for example, listen to the free hypnosis audio at LiberationInMind.com/insomnia-relief. In one study in the journal SLEEP, this simple step led to a 66% decrease in micro-arousals–mini-wakeups that happen throughout the night without you knowing it, preventing truly sound sleep. Plus, it led to 80% more slow-wave sleep–the kind of deep sleep that makes you feel fully refreshed in the morning.(4) Why it works? Our sleep patterns are sensitive to what happens to us subconsciously, the study authors explain. As a result, hypnotic suggestions have the potential to influence the subconscious mind in a way that results in a sounder slumber.
4. Trick yourself to sleep by trying to staying awake
Next time you’re struggling to fall asleep, experiment with this easy technique: Instead of focusing on trying to nod off, focus on trying to stay awake as long as possible while lying in bed. Sounds counterintuitive, but insomniacs who adopted this simple method (called paradoxical intention) felt like they fell asleep faster, according to a study from Scotland’s University of Glasgow.(6) The researchers explain that by switching your focus to trying to stay awake, you let go of “sleep anxiety” caused by trying to fall asleep, which keeps you alert and awake. The result: You relax and finally drift off.
5. Fall asleep faster–and dodge bad dreams–by inhaling jasmine
Is difficulty turning off worries or stress keeping you from falling asleep? Place a bowl of jasmine-scented potpourri by your bedside (far from curious pets and kids) or dab jasmine essential oil onto your wrists and neck. When inhaled, fragrant odor molecules in jasmine trigger relaxation just like an anti-anxiety drug by calming overstimulated areas of the brain, reports the Journal of Biological Chemistry.(6) Not a fan of a jasmine aroma? Lavender has also been shown to usher in relaxing calm. Bonus: Breathing in a pleasant fragrance as you sleep reduces the likelihood of scary or anxious dreams, according to a study in the Journal of Sleep Research.(7)
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(1) Marco Carotenuto, et al., “Acupressure therapy for insomnia in adolescents: a polysomnographic study,” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 9 (2013): 157-162
(2) Mei-Jou Lu, et al., “Acupressure improves sleep quality of psychogeriatric inpatients,” Nursing Research, 62 (2013): 130-137
(3) Chun-Fang Wang, Ying-LiSun, Hong-Xin Zang, “Music therapy improves sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders: a meta-analysis of 10 randomized studies,” International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51 (2014): 51-62
(4) Maren J. Cordi, et al., “Deepening Sleep by Hypnotic Suggestion,” SLEEP, 37 (2014): 1143-1152
(5) Niall M. Broomfield, Colin A. Espie, “Initial insomnia and paradoxical intention: An experimental investigation of putative mechanisms using subjective and actigraphic measurement of sleep,” Oxford Neuroscience, 31 (2003): 313-324
(6) Olga Sergeeva, et al., “Fragrant Dioxane Derivatives Identify β1-Subunit-containing GABAA Receptors,” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 285 (2010): 23985-23993
(7) Michael Schredl, et al., “Information processing during sleep: the effect of olfactory stimuli on dream content and dream emotions,” Journal of Sleep Research, 18 (2009): 285-290
Affiliate disclosure: Affiliate links in this post support Hormonology by helping to cover ever-rising operating costs, but in no way impact the content, which is always carefully researched to ensure accuracy and usefulness.
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