Menopause, Nutrition & Lifestyle

Why Can’t I Sleep and What to Do About It

by Nikki Warren on Aug 29, 2023

Why Can’t I Sleep and What to Do About It

Why can’t I sleep?

There are many reasons why some people can’t sleep. Some reasons may include high stress levels and too much caffeine. External factors may include excessive light/noise and certain health conditions. Hormonal changes can impact sleep such as menopause/PMS, alcohol consumption, jet lag and shift work.

Stress can occur in the body from different triggers which can range from hormonal changes, physical disturbances, emotions, and health conditions. An increase in stress hormones such as cortisol in the body activates the HPA axis.

This can lead to waking in the night and poor sleep quality. Therefore chronic stress can lead to long term issues with sleep. This is a vice-versa relationship as poor sleep itself can disrupt the HPA axis. This may make us more susceptible to feelings of both physical and mental stress throughout the day.

Menopause can severely impact women’s sleep quality. It is one of the main reasons they will seek help from their doctor. Menopausal women that struggle to sleep are often prescribed hormonal medications.

These may have side effects such as headaches, nausea and breast tenderness. These symptoms can stop them from using medication and to seek complementary therapies.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can occur when we are not getting enough sleep, or the quality of sleep is not sufficient. Some signs of sleep deprivation include fatigue, poor concentration, mood changes and daytime sleepiness. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of various health conditions such metabolic conditions like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Sleep deprivation can also impact women’s hormonal health and worsen symptoms of both PMS and menopause.

Sleep paralysis

Some people can experience other issues with their sleep such as sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is where we begin to regain consciousness while muscle atonia of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is maintained. This can cause the experience of being unable to move or talk temporarily whilst falling asleep or when we are waking up. This can be quite uncomfortable and scary for people to experience.

Sleeping tablets

Sleeping tablets may be prescribed by your doctor. They are often used by people that struggle to fall or stay asleep. Sleeping tablets will often only be recommended for short term relief for you.

Sleeping tablets may have side effects such as dizziness, headaches and nausea. As well as loose stools and/or excessive grogginess/sleepiness on waking. Therefore many people look to other solutions and tools to help them sleep.

Use of sleeping medication may be associated with increased fall risk in elderly people. Other risks may include increased risk of motor vehicle accidents and worsening of some conditions such as restless leg syndrome. Sleeping medication use can cause a reduction in overall functioning and quality of life in some people.

Sleep meditation

Sleep meditation is a lifestyle practice. Meditation can help people get to sleep quicker. As well as help people stay asleep and have a better quality of sleep. Sleep meditation is a safe, accessible, and affordable tool for people that can’t sleep.

Sleep music

Sleep music can be another accessible lifestyle tool for people that can’t sleep. Sleep music has been shown to increase feelings of relaxation. It has also been shown to help reduce depressive symptoms associated with sleep deprivation. As well as improve sleep quality.

Herbs for sleep

Withania has been shown to help improve sleep quantity and quality. As well as concentration levels alongside reducing anxiety. Withania is also known to reduce inflammation in the body and strengthen the immune system.

Chamomile can help increase sleep quality in both the elderly and children. Chamomile helps to bring a sense of calmness and is sedative as it works on the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Chamomile is also useful for other problems such as wound healing and digestive issues.

Passionflower has a sedative action. It has been shown to increase total sleep amount. Increase slow wave sleep and reduce wakefulness. Passionflower may assist increasing motivation and motor function. Passionflower has been observed to benefit memory loss and degenerative brain diseases in people with chronic sleep issues. This herb also assists in mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Lavender oil can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and improve sleep quality. Increase feelings of refreshment on waking and also helps to reduce daytime fatigue. Lavender has these actions through modulating acetylcholine activity and GABA pathways in the nervous system.

Saffron can help to increase sleep onset, maintenance and duration in people that struggle to sleep alongside having mild anxiety. Saffron also has other health benefits such as helping reduce mood changes and severity of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Valerian can help increase and promote deep sleep. Valerian may help reduce anxiety and anxiety associated with PMS. Valerian can also be helpful in reducing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

Hops can help improve sleep by enhancing GABA activity. Hops also inhibits the central nervous system which has a calming/sedative action on the brain. Hops can increase estrogen levels which can help reduce symptoms associated with low levels of estrogen in menopause. These symptoms may include hot flashes, night sweats, poor sleep and fatigue. Hops is only recommended for short term use for people with high estrogen levels.

Ziziphus was shown to have a sleep-inducing affect through the GABA pathway in the brain. Ziziphus has been shown to increase sleep quality in post-menopausal women. Ziziphus was shown to have minimal side effects. Therefore can be considered as a valid option for post-menopausal women that suffer from sleep disturbances.

If you can’t sleep and you aren’t sure what you can do about it, there are various natural therapies that you can try. There are natural therapies to help assist you to have a better sleep.

Whilst, sleeping tablets may be recommended to help treat sleep disturbances. They may come with unpleasant side effects for some people and therefore many people are looking to complementary therapies.

Sleep meditation and sleep music can be incorporated into your daily routine. For promoting sleep and relaxation and are both safe and accessible for long term use. There are also other complementary therapies to help treat poor sleep.

Such as specific herbal medicines that can enhance sleep and sleep deprivation symptoms. You may discuss with your healthcare provider to explore what you work for you.

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