With over 76K searches for “menopause symptoms” in the past month and a further 3K searches for “menopause night sweats”, it’s clear that sleeping well during menopause is difficult at the best of times, but incorporate higher temperatures and lighter evenings, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a restless night.
To help, Jessica Hanley, founder of Sussex-born bedding and homeware brand, Piglet in Bed has pulled together some top tips for getting a good night’s sleep in the summer months when going through the menopause.
Keep your room ventilated and cool
The optimum bedroom temperature for a good night’s sleep is 18°C according to The Sleep Foundation, so if you can set the temperature in your room, aim for it to be set to this number a few hours prior to climbing into bed. Not all of us have air conditioning at home so trying to cool your room down in the Summer can be tricky. However, there are things you can do to prevent a sleepless night of tossing and turning.
It’s a good idea to leave your bedroom window open a crack during the summer months. Having a flow of fresh air in your bedroom will help to keep you cool and the gentle breeze can help to relax you. If you don’t like sleeping with the window open, try to leave it open during the day to set the room up with a good amount of airflow for the evening.
If you live on a noisy street, consider investing in a quiet fan to circulate the air around your room. You might also want to leave the bedroom door ajar as this can also prevent the room from feeling stuffy.
Get into a routine
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (when possible) for the best sleep quality. Maintaining a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do to alleviate general symptoms of menopause and is vital for preventing other health conditions.
Avoid napping if you can! Hot flushes and menopause can make us feel more tired during the day but napping can make it even harder to fall asleep at night.
Try linen bed sheets
To get the best sleep, we must keep our bodies comfortable, cool and dry. Comfort, temperature regulation and softness all happen to be some of linen’s intrinsic technical feats.
During the REM sleep stage, we are not very good at keeping our body temperature constant. Menopause and summer temperatures only make this trickier, so what we sleep in at this time is very important. According to a performance study by the University of Lorraine in France, linen achieved the highest score for airflow through the fabric in comparison to other regularly used bedding materials.”
Sleep in the darkness
This one may sound obvious to some, but keeping your room dark is essential for a good night’s sleep. During the summer months, the days stay lighter for longer, so even 9 pm can look like the middle of the day.
If you are tossing and turning throughout the night, spotting bursts of light from street lamps or even sunlight in the early morning will only make matters worse. Consider investing in black-out blinds or curtains. Alternatively, a classic eye mask will do the trick to keep the light out of your eyes in the morning and throughout the night, especially if you’re in need of a lie-in or your bedtime is not in sync with your family or partner.
Also, if you can, invest in some bedside dimmer lamps for use before you go to sleep. Some types of light with high lumen levels will stimulate your brain and make it subconsciously think it’s daytime, preventing you from getting a good night’s rest – it’s not just the hot flushes that could be disturbing your sleep.
Wear good-quality pyjamas
We do not sleep well if our skin feels wet from sweat – and any woman experiencing hot flushes at night time will be well aware of this. Linen rapidly absorbs moisture and is the best material to help keep your skin dry at night. What’s more, the soft, fresh feel of linen will help to instil the feeling of well-being, a necessary precondition for sleep.
Wearing breathable materials to sleep in, like linen pyjamas is better than sleeping naked (honestly) because linen is great for moisture management, wicking and all-around breathability, allowing sweat to pass through the material while creating a barrier between you and your bed.
Hydrate before bed
It is important to drink enough water throughout the day to prepare your body for a good night’s sleep and alleviate some symptoms of menopause including dryness. In saying this, avoid drinking large amounts of water just before you head to bed – as you don’t want to end up running to the bathroom all night long.
Make careful choices about what you drink too. Avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea for a few hours before you go to bed and limit your consumption of soft drinks which can have high volumes of sugar. We know how tempting it can be to indulge in a glass of wine in the garden on a Summer’s evening, but when keeping your sleep a priority, alcohol should be limited or avoided as much as possible.
Put your phone to bed
Scrolling endlessly on your phone before bed is a bad idea at any age, but if you’re already struggling with sleep quality it is definitely something to avoid. Your phone screen emits blue light which signals to your brain that it is still daytime, knocking your body clock out of sync and preventing you from being able to easily doze off. Additionally, checking your phone before bed can induce symptoms of anxiety and keep you psychologically alert.
Try to switch off your phone an hour or so before bed to let your eyes rest, and give you some much-needed wind-down time. If you’re in the routine of using your phone in bed, try to replace this habit with reading a book. Reading will help to tire your eyes and is a great distraction to help your mind relax after a stressful day
Speak to a doctor about your symptoms
If you’re really struggling with your symptoms, make sure you don’t struggle alone and reach out to your GP for professional advice on your options to alleviate menopause symptoms.