Women and Midlife: Sleep Issues

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When I talk about women reaching midlife, I am not going to mention the horrible term “midlife crisis.” I’m also not going to mention menopause. Issues that women have at midlife can occur without a crisis and before or after menopause. One issue that we face as we try to juggle children, perhaps a career, elderly parents or other family members, a spouse, and the rest of our lives is sleep. Sleep, for me, is like climbing a very tall and steep mountain.

There is no doubt, according to extensive research, that decreases in a woman’s estrogen and progesterone at midlife contribute to sleep disturbances. Doctors, in my opinion, often simplify our insomnia to just that and it is much more complicated. This is the time in our life when we are most likely to be part of the infamous sandwich generation, taking care of children and parents. If we have a professional career, as I have, add more fuel to the fire of anxiety and stress. You go to bed at night without sufficient time to relax and when you go to bed, you are already hurrying to get up the next morning. I call it the “hurry up and sleep” syndrome. Is it any wonder that you are climbing that mountain toward sleep, hoping to arrive, all night almost every night? Then, rinse and repeat the next day.

The advice continues. Don’t drink caffeine for six hours before bedtime or liquor for three hours. Don’t exercise except earlier in the day. When? We’re busy, working, taking care of our families! Don’t eat a heavy dinner. Go to bed only when tired. Does all this sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me? Then, the last piece of advice. Doctor says, “I can give you a mild antidepressant which should help with your sleep issues.” That, my friends, is when I want to scream.

A drug. Give us a possibly dangerous drug to help us climb that mountain toward sleep instead of addressing the problem. The problem is that we need help. Help with the chaos that our lives have become. Not a pill.

Since help doesn’t often seem to be around the corner, try some natural solutions. Women’s bodies are almost always deficient in magnesium which helps our muscles relax. Take a magnesium supplement a couple of hours every night before bed. It will help you sleep, help your digestive system, and relieve cramping in your legs. Very few foods that we eat on a regular basis contain enough magnesium for us to meet our daily requirements. Melatonin is another possibility. Take half an hour for yourself and try a warm shower or bath, possibly using Epsom salts (which contain magnesium). After your shower, put on some calming music and sit quietly and meditate. Personally, magnesium is a miracle solution for me.

Get all the electronics out of your bedroom. Unplug at night even though it’s hard. Read a book you can hold in your hands rather than your Kindle.

I’m not saying that you don’t have sleep apnea or depression or some other medical condition that needs treatment. What I am saying is that not everyone does and it is too easy for doctors to hand us an anti-depressant rather than take the time to get at the root of the problem and suggest real solutions.

Think for a minute. Does that anti-depressant really make that much difference in how you sleep at night? Does it make that mountain you are climbing toward sleep less steep? Just give some of the natural sleep solutions a try. #sleep #amwriting #writing #blogging

*Image by photostock at Freedigitalphotos.net

6 thoughts on “Women and Midlife: Sleep Issues

  1. Thanks for this post. I have struggled with sleep issues for years. I’m sure some of it is my fault, drinking caffeine too late in the day, etc., however, it can’t all be my fault! I’m sure menopause has something to do with it!!!! Very timely post, thank you!

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