After 40 there is a decline in our ability to either get to sleep or to stay asleep. I’ve struggled with both issues! Over the course of the last 5 years, I’ve tried every sleep aid and strategy under the sun: spraying lavender onto my pillow at night; counting to 100; herbal teas (e.g. chamomile/night-time teas); Meditation apps (e.g. Calm app); supplements that promise a good night’s sleep etc…..
Sleep is so important as it restores our emotional and physical health and is a key factor to ageing well. Stress and anxiety affects our sleep and so we have to find ways to bring our stress levels down. If stress levels are high, then cortisol is released into the body stopping you from sleeping or achieving a really good, deep sleep. Deep sleep is actually more important than the number of hours of sleep. If deep sleep is achieved, metabolic balance or rejuvenation can take place, thus optimising cognitive function and releasing fat boosting hormones and vanishing fine lines and dark eye circles.
Technology also plays a big part in affecting our sleep – it’s best to avoid watching TV at bedtime and turning off all gadgets. I’ve yet to invest in a pair of anti-blue light glasses (if you have, let me know if they worked for you) as I don’t tend to watch TV, although I am guilty of quickly checking my phone before going to sleep!
There are several herbs on the market which can assist you if you are having trouble sleeping. For example, Valerian is thought to act like a sedative on the brain and nervous system, promoting better sleep and soothing anxiety and stress. Skullcap and Hops are other powerful medicinal herbs used to treat insomnia and anxiety. (Please do check with your GP first before taking any of these herbs, especially if you are on other medication).
However, I have found the following strategies and remedies are what work best for me, guaranteeing most (but not all) of the time a better night’s sleep:
- A warm bath with 2-3 large handfuls of Epsom Salts
- Magnesium supplements (taken at the end of the evening meal)
- No caffeine after 11am
- Avoid alcohol (altogether if you can) but if you do have a drink, try to have it 4-6 hours before bed
- Ashwagandha – this supplement promotes a relaxed state and decreases my stress and anxiety and helps me fall asleep more easily.
I’d love to hear what works for you! Post a comment here or join my Facebook group: Embrace Over 40 and connect with other midlife women.