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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Chronic insomnia where do I start to fix it?

    I am 49 and been diagnosed as menopausal. I have not had more than 6hrs sleep for nearly two yrs. I have tried HRT which did not suit me. I've tried off the shelf natural remedies which helped but still no good sleep pattern. It varies from 11/2 hrs to a max of 6 on a good night. Most nights would be two bouts of sleep with an awake spell in the middle. I get off to sleep no trouble but wake after 1 - 3hrs. Then it depends how long I am before I can get back to sleep, sometimes not. This is affecting my function. I work part time 3 days a week, run a business at home, have two teenagers, one in yr 12 & one at uni and hubby works away, three weeks on and three week off. I feel like I just need to get off “the treadmill” to sort my health out. Can I sort this out whilst still working? If I take time off work where do I start to maximise the time off?
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  • 1

    Thanks

    Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a leader in women’s health, supported by funding from the Australian Government. We provide trusted and easy-to-understand information to … View Profile

    Sometimes a change in routine/habits can make all the difference. Try the following:

    • Reduce your caffeine intake (including cola, tea, coffee and chocolate) to two drinks/serves per day, preferably before lunch.
    • Limit your alcohol consumption to one to two standard drinks per day, as too much alcohol reduces the quality of your sleep: Alcohol is also a sedative and can make sleep come quicker, but people tend to wake later in the night.
    • Be physically active. If you can increase your body temperature by exercising, then allow time to cool down, the fall in body temperature can help the onset of sleep and/or maintain continual sleeping. Don't be physically active in the four hours before going to bed, though, as exercise is stimulating.
    • Maintain regular timing of bedtime and waking time: Try to get out of bed at the same time each day and don't sleep in, even on weekends, to help train your body clock.
    • Restrict time in bed to sleeping and sex - not eating, reading or watching TV - so as to train yourself to sleep when you get there.
    • If not sleeping, get out of bed and do a quiet, relaxing task in another room, as frustration at your inability to sleep can make the problem worse.
    • Hide the clock – turn any clocks away from view, so you're not tempted to ‘clock-gaze’ during the night, as that just heightens the frustration.
    • Try relaxation or meditation techniques.
    If those tips don't help, there are medications (e.g. benzodiazepines, stilnox) that can be prescribed for short-term use, but these drugs may cause dependence and should be taken with care. Speak to your GP or health practitioner for more information.
    www.managingmenopause.org.au/health-issues/158-sleep

  • Suzanne Edwards

    HealthShare Member

    Get to bed by 10pm, after 10pm, if you are not asleep, the mind becomes active and heat increases in the body. Your body is going thru a time of transition during menopause , any imbalances you have collected will be highlighted. Balance your mind and body by pacify your Vata- the principal of movement- that controls your nervous system. Regular early bedtime, preceeded by a warm oil massage(even just your feet but full body is great) and or a bath. Light dinner 3 hours before bedtime and no TV 1/2 hour before bedtime.The body cleans between 10pm and 2am - this early bedtime will ensure you are asleep without undigested food in your stomach and this essential clean up can take place- and less toxins equals less menopausal symptoms including insomnia!
    Cheers

  • SuzeeJ

    HealthShare Member

    Sunlight is also useful to help reset the body clock.

    If you wake too early it is recommended that you have more sunlight late in the afternoon and less earlier in the day. Wear sunglasses in the morning. Maybe go for an afternoon walk in the sun.

    I have the oppposite problem where I often cannot get to sleep until 4am. So it is a big effort but I am trying to walk in the early morning sun (which is recommended for my problem).

    Exercise, meditation, massage, and counselling have also benefited me.

    Take the time off work that you need to nourish yourself benefiting you are your family :)

  • The Sleep Health Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of ‘valuing sleep’ as part of a healthy lifestyle alongside regular exercise, a … View Profile

    The place to start with chronic insomnia is to see your general practitioner (GP). For many people, chronic insomnia occurs together with other health conditions and medications, so your GP who knows your history is best placed to look at factors that will be contributing to sleep difficulties. Depending on that assessment, your GP may refer you on to a sleep clinic for evaluation by a sleep physician or sleep psychologist who are expert in treating chronic insomnia. The mainstay of treatment is a non-drug treatment - cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which involves changing sleep habits and the way we think about sleep and has been proven to be a very effective treatment for chronic insomnia. Click here for more information on insomnia.

  • My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    Adding to what the Sleep Health Foundation has said, if seeing your GP does not reveal any health condition/medication issues, then learning about sleep hygiene could help.

    Essentially sleep hygiene means using good habits in preparation for a good night's sleep - it has helped me with my insomnia.

    You might find the information in these two sites helpful:

    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Sleep_hygiene

    http://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/sleep-hygiene

     

     

  • 1

    Thanks

    Charmaine Sully

    Massage Therapist

    Remedial Massage Therapist. Qualified at Katoomba TAFE. Use a range of techniques such as deep tissue, myofasical release, Trigger Point Therapy, PNF stretches, rhythmic style … View Profile

    All the above sounds like great advice.  Some other options you could try -

    - make sure your bed is set up so you can regulate your heat, including not having bedding on your feet, and that bed clothes are cotton (synthetics tend to be more insulating)

    - when your awake during the night try an audiobook or music or similar (this is helpful if you tend to start thinking about things, eg worrying about not sleeping or thinking about other things of concern)

    - make time to have your eyes closed for a while duing the day, if your eyes get a tired feeling, 10 mins laying down with your eyes closed might revitalise you

    - make sure you have plenty of vegetables and fibre with your dinner, so that digestion takes a long time (a dinner with a lot of carbs or protein will make you sleep very heavily, but wake up within a few hours, adding more vegetables can reduce that)

    - sometimes worrying about getting enough sleep and being annoyed by being awake makes the whole thing much worse, you could decide that the main thing is to be lying down and with your eyes closed for about 6hrs, and that it's ok not to be asleep the whole time.  

    - watching the clock can be annoying, but having some way of knowing that you have slept is helpful also, because sometimes 1hr not sleeping feels like half the night.  I think fitbit type devices also track sleep.  You might find that your getting more sleep that you thought.  

    - take note of the times you feel tired during the day, is it when you wake up or is it perhaps related to being seated a long time, or after sugary snacks.  Sugary foods make you feel more alert immediately but will make you feel tired within an hour or two

    - on days that you feel you didn't sleep at all, you could do 4 hours of work, and then plan some reward.  So when you get up your not burdened with the idea of having to do hard work all day, and the day is like a punishment.  If you are too tired to think, have 10-30 min nap.  You could even decide to do just 1hr of something hard that you've been putting off doing, and then make the rest of the day time for fun

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