SLEEP AND LIFE STAGE
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.
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.
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.
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