SLEEP AND LIFE STAGE

Good Health Choices - - Be Informed -

At dif­fer­ent times in our lives, we can find our­selves strug­gling to get the amount of sleep we need to feel re­freshed in the morn­ing.

BABY STEPS

If you’re hav­ing a baby, it’s im­por­tant to pre­pare yourself for the fact that your sleep pat­tern is go­ing to change — and not in a good way. For the first three months, your baby won’t know if it’s night or day. New­borns sleep a lot, but they also wake up for reg­u­lar night-time feeds, and if they’re awake, you’re awake too. Noth­ing can re­place a solid night’s sleep but pre­par­ing yourself for the dis­rup­tion in those first few weeks can ease the pain.

Be pre­pared to:

» Make sleep a pri­or­ity and tell fam­ily and friends that you’ll be sleep­ing when­ever you can, which could mean a couple of naps dur­ing the day while baby is sleep­ing. Bro­ken sleep is bet­ter than none at all.

» Be­fore baby is born, set up your bed­room to make it more con­ducive to day­time sleep­ing. Add cur­tains or blinds to block out light or use eyes masks.

» Say no to in­vi­ta­tions for vis­its or cof­fee if it means you’ll miss out on valu­able catch-up sleep. Con­sider stick­ing a note on the front door to tell un­ex­pected visitors that you and the baby are sleep­ing.

» Re­mind yourself that this too shall pass and you will sleep well again. Most babies start to sleep for longer pe­ri­ods at around three months of age.

MID-LIFE MAY­HEM

As if grey hair and dry skin weren’t enough, the menopausal years can wreak havoc on your sleep too. Hav­ing dif­fi­culty fall­ing asleep, stay­ing asleep and wak­ing up ear­lier than you once did are the most com­mon com­plaints. The good news is that once you’re through menopause, your sleep will likely im­prove.

BE PRE­PARED TO:

Hor­mone lev­els get all out of whack dur­ing the lead-up to menopause and body tem­per­a­ture can be less sta­ble, which can re­sult in hot flushes. These can be un­pleas­ant enough to deal with dur­ing the day, but when they hap­pen at night, women tend to wake up, usu­ally just be­fore one hap­pens. Need­less to say, wak­ing up all hot and sweaty isn’t the best for sleep. Stick­ing one foot out of your bed­ding can help keep you cooler. Du­vets can tend to make more heat build up and of­ten a couple of cot­ton blan­kets works bet­ter, with a du­vet on hand for ex­tra­cold nights. Stick to light cot­ton sleep­wear too.

Sleep ap­noea

Menopausal hor­monal changes may also be linked with sleep ap­noea. This can cause you to mo­men­tar­ily stop breath­ing freely re­peat­edly while you sleep. Oe­stro­gen loss around the time of menopause makes body fat move more to the stom­ach area, which in­creases the like­li­hood of snor­ing and sleep ap­noea. If you think this could be you, speak to your doc­tor, who can re­fer you to a sleep clinic. Los­ing weight if you’re over­weight, re­duc­ing your al­co­hol in­take, us­ing special den­tal de­vices and con­tin­u­ous pos­i­tive air­way pres­sure (CPAP) ther­apy – a small quiet air pump that de­liv­ers a gen­tle pres­sure to a mask placed over your nose – give good results.

Once you’re through the menopausal years, your sleep will likely im­prove

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