How long will this take to read? 3 minutes

 

During peri/menopause, sleep can become a major area of focus. Whether it’s affected due to anxiety, night sweats, joint pain or anything else, it can become all consuming in terms of how it affects everyday life. This blog post aims to dispel some of the myths associated with sleep and change the way you view your sleep to hopefully improve your experience.

 

 

What’s normal?

 

The figure you will have seen bandied about for years is that you should have 8 hours of sleep a night. The fact of the matter is, this is just not true.
The amount of sleep you need varies depending on loads of factors such as age, genetics and individual differences such as sleep quality and cycles etc.
Evidence suggests that a lot of people can have a perfectly satisfactory sleep routine with 6 – 7 hours a night.

It is also normal to wake up several times a night. There is very little evidence that links occasional sleep disturbance with becoming ill. Your body just naturally catches up in the following days.

 

Perception

 

One of the key factors in affecting sleep is the stress and worry we feel about not getting enough sleep! The irony!
During sleep we enter a different state of awareness. This means our judgements are not always accurate when it comes to gauging how long or how well we slept.
Research tells us that most of us:
  • underestimate how much sleep we get
  • overestimate the time it takes to get to sleep

The research also tells us however, that if we are aware that we make these judgements, we do tend to worry less and sleep better.

 

Why is it so hard to judge your sleep quality?

 

One of the main reasons is called sleep inertia. This is the state you are in for up to 60 minutes after you wake up. You probably describe it as feeling half asleep or feeling “out of it”. When your brain is foggy like this and not operating on all cylinders yet, you’re prone to misinterpreting things or your judgement might be slightly impaired.
The next reason that it’s difficult is due to not being able to know the exact time of sleep onset. Even using smart watches and other monitoring devices cannot give an exact time of when you fall asleep.

The last reason is worry. When you worry, your mind races, lots of thoughts buzz around your head. When you’re feeling like this, time seems to pass more quickly. That means that lying there worrying for 30 minutes can feel like twice as long!

 

What can I do improve sleep disruption?

 

There are 5 ways to improve your sleep:
  • Address lifestyle & environmental factors
  • Stimulus control (phones, TV etc.)
  • Develop a good bedtime wind-down routine
  • Consistent sleep scheduling
  • Good management of daytime tiredness
You can find out more about doing this here and here.
If you want to look at some long term support for managing disturbed sleep, night sweats and anxiety, get in touch for info about my cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) group sessions. CBT is an evidence based intervention that has proven successful in terms of managing hot flushes, night sweats and other menopause symptoms. You can also find out more about CBT for menopause symptoms here.

Hi, I'm Kerry. I'm a menopause coach for women who want to take control of their menopause and do it their way.

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