Many women when facing the menopause have to go through the suffering of sleeplessness or insomnia. Most people believe that insomnia is when you can't sleep and this is true, but it is also not being able to stay asleep.
Waking up one or more times every night then finding it almost impossible to get back to the land of nod is also a very normal factor of insomnia. A common symptom of the menopause are sudden hot flashes, or night sweats and this obviously breaks women's sleep completely.
Normal sleeping habits usually get back into sync when these night sweats disappear or are controlled. Some women develop chronic insomnia when these symptoms refuse to disappear or, after so many nights of waking up, they condition themselves to continue the bad habit.
Most doctors point out that if you have to put up with the inability to sleep every night or most nights for about a month then you probably have chronic insomnia. At first you could blame the hot flushes but if they disappear and sleeplessness is still a problem, then apart from having conditioned your body into this bad state of affairs, you should start looking into other possible causes.
Guess what are the most frequent causes of chronic insomnia. Depression and anxiety. These two bugbears really need evaluating by a specialist. After depression and anxiety have been crossed off the list of possibilities, you then have to start looking for other causes.
Restless leg syndrome may well seem like a joke but if you get it then it is no laughing matter. Luckily there now exist new medicines to combat this. Other problems sleeping could be due to having to work shifts and changing your internal body clock, sleep apnea and obviously, pain.
I am afraid I am going to shock you. 30% of chronic insomnia sufferers are never able to identify the cause of their affliction. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. Even worse is the fact that they are regularly treated with sleeping pills. That's right. They create another (bigger) problem by trying to deal with the first.
It is commonly known that sleeping pills should only ever be taken in the smallest amount possible and for the shortest time, otherwise dependency ensues. And you know what that means. The sad fact is that doctors are just too busy to delve into the sleeping habits of their patients and write out a prescription is much more beneficial. TO THEM.
You have heard of dental hygiene. Now meet sleep hygiene. The best hope for chronic insomnia sufferers during or after the menopause (or at any other time come to think of it) is changing bad sleeping habits, and I bet you have them all. Here are some things you should really think about changing.
1: Go to bed when you are feeling sleepy. So you want to wait up and watch Orange County? Video it.
2: Your bed is your nest. Use it for sleep and nothing else. (well, ok, sex too). Get your brain to associate bed with sleep because at the moment your brain associates bed with problems.
3: If you really can't sleep then don't stay in bed. Get up, go to another room. Your bed is for sleeping, not tossing and turning.
4: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day to teach your brain when it has to sleep. (just imagine your brain as a naughty little boy who wants to stay up and watch TV, you get the idea).
5: The next one is pretty obvious: Don't have coffee and booze in the evening. In fact, don't have coffee and booze.
6: Lots of people agree that exercising in the day releases pent up stress and allows the body to rest during the night.
They are many more ways to help yourself improve your quality and quantity of sleep. Try one thing for a week, then if it doesn't work try another. But one thing is certain: Taking strong drugs will not aid you in the long term, and probably not in the short term either.
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