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Oh Where Oh Where Is That Elusive Sleep?

A good nights sleep is something that has mostly evaded me now for a number of years. With childhood memories of my mother saying; a herd of elephants could go through the room and you'd never wake, I crave those uninterrupted sleep I once enjoyed.

Even in my 20s flying around the world as a Flight Attendant I was quickly able to get into a routine whereby I could pretty much sleep anywhere. When most people struggle to sleep on an aeroplane, I had my sleep formula down pat. Get in the seat, recline it, neck pillow on with another small pillow under one side, ear plugs in, eye mask on, and out like a light I would go. These days however, it's a different story. ​Many women struggle with sleep as they approach menopause and beyond it. Without having kept a sleep diary (which I now think might have been a good idea), I'd say it's probably been 10 years that my sleep has been affected. In my Flight Attendant days I so clearly remember being incredibly tired at times and not liking it one bit. That feeling of dragging yourself around and feeling as though you could curl up anywhere, even on the hard floor, and just nod off to sleep. It was something I hated about being tired and when I left the job, I vowed and declared that I was never going to get into that space of being that tired. But, hello, peri and post menopause had other ideas. When I look back over the last decade, there have been many iterations of my sleep and sleeplessness. At times, in the early hours of the morning (or sometimes even two hours after going to bed) I'd all of a sudden be wide awake. Back then I'd get up, have a cup of tea, and read or watch something on YouTube until I was tired enough to fall asleep again, sometimes that was hours later. Other times I'd toss and turn, sleeping for one or two hours at a time, then waking absolutely exhausted when I'd have to drag myself out of bed for work. Then, as I moved into post menopause, I'd wake several times a night, either to go to the toilet, with night sweats and I went through a stage of suffering from bad lower leg cramps and restless legs syndrome. So, what helped? Whilst my sleep is certainly not what it used to be, it is better. Taking Magnesium at night has helped with the leg cramps and with getting off to sleep, as does the occasional Panadol if I'm really having trouble (not that I like taking them but they do help me get to sleep). The other big contributor as I get older has been a firmer mattress, and of course getting enough exercise, and doing a few stretches on my yoga mat before bed. Taking a daytime nap helps too, although I'm not particularly good at this, even if I am really tired. There always something to do and I'm happy to go to bed early instead. I love mornings and naturally wake around 6.00am in the winter and even earlier in the summer; my preference is definitely to watch the sunrise rather than late night television. In terms of getting up in the night, I find the more I drink during the day, the less I need to get up - work that one out! It seems to make a difference when my bladder is more active during the day. It seems my sleep is still at times evading me, but I've learned some coping mechanisms that work well. I'd love to hear how you manage tiredness and getting those precious hours of sleep you need. ​Until next time,

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