The morphing sleep cycles of menopause. 15 things to do when you can’t sleep. Here are lots of links to natural sleep aids.

Sleep restful by pinoWhen I entered menopause at age 42, I noticed my sleeping patterns beginning to change.  Like everyone else, at first I fought it and tried all sorts of things to keep me asleep for my previous 6-8 hours at a stretch.  If you listen to the tv ads, that’s what’s “normal” and menopause was “interrupting” that natural cycle. I typically have 3-4 hours sleep in a row and then it’s feet on the floor and back to the office.   A recreational sleeper I’m not.    Then I thought, wait, menopause itself is a natural cycle and if I just go with it, instead of fighting it, let me see what my sleeping patterns morph into.  I’m lucky in that I work for myself and can make my own hours, so I began what would be a decade long experiment to find my own natural sleeping pattern.  

I remember back in 1970 when I first learned to meditate.  At first I thought it was ridiculous to wake up at 4:00am just to sit on the floor with eyes closed for an hour.  Sheesh, couldn’t I do that in bed since my eyes were already closed?

In the beginning, often I would just get up, powder my nose, think about doing a short meditation, but go right back to bed instead.  Then I just began naturally waking up at 4:00am.  I was told to “get up when God wakes you up” and that by sitting to meditate, I’d get the answer to why I was awakened.  It took me several years to get into the habit, and now I can’t imagine not doing it.

So at menopause, I meditated upon my sleeping cycles and the change in the number of hours I was sleeping.  I was told I would settle into a pattern that was good for me.  I knew I had to lose the expectation and belief that my past sleep patterns had to be replicated, even if I had to use sleeping aids to stay down for more than 4 hours.

I settled into a pattern that mostly continues to this day, of sleeping 3-4 hours at a stretch, twice a day.  That’s usually somewhere between 4:00 to 9:00 both am and pm.  If I am at a conference or otherwise on someone else’s schedule for a weekend or more, I will take 2 valerian and 2 melatonin or tryptophan capsules about an hour before I want to fall asleep at night.  They do the trick for me but I don’t do that often.

I used to try different pills, both over the counter and prescribed.  But I found that for me, the biggest drug I want to take is the occasional Unisom, which is simply Benadryl.  Since it’s so dehydrating, I avoid it except in emergencies.  I find the herbal valerian root and tryptophan work well on me, but that may be due in part to me rarely taking any prescription drugs for the past 20+ years, and I don’t drink alcohol.  I eat a balanced diet although not all organic.  I also don’t eat much processed food, no chips or pies or that kind of thing, although I do eat bread and pasta.  So maybe all that adds up to me absorbing nutrients and supplements better than the average bear…

So, for me, the answer to the change in sleeping patterns as I get older, is to have several ongoing projects that I want to spend extra time doing.  Then if I can’t get to sleep, that’s my signal that God/the Universe wants me to get up and work on it.

I also learned that, like a little kid, if I let myself I can get so wrapped up in a project that I will work on it until I’m exhausted and just drop off to sleep in my chair.  That can be the best hour or two of sleep right then., so I learned to buy a good executive office chair.  One that is supportive enough to sit at a keyboard for 8-14 hours a day, yet big enough to lean back and curl up in for a quick snooze.

These are 15 things I’ve done when I was wide awake in the middle of the night:

Organize the files on my hard drive and delete old files
Organize closets and clear out clutter
Re-arrange furniture
Clean, vacuum, do laundry
Take a hot bubble bath or epsom soak
Give myself a manicure and pedicure
Take insurance photos of everything in the house

Sketch and paint.
Take photos of my kitties
Variation: Dress kitties in silly outfits and take pics
Variation: Stage silly scenes around sleeping kitties and take pics
Variation: Stage silly scenes around sleeping family members and take pics

Take all my clothes out of the drawers and closets and wash them and put them back.

Think of whose birthdays are coming up and make them a card.

Go room to room and make a list of anything that needs to be repaired or replaced

Search words and phrases at my blog  and visit all the links 🙂

Holy basil may be used as a treatment aid for depression
Holy Basil Extract for stress, insomnia and depression
Holy Basil for Anxiety and Insomnia
L-theanine as a unique anxiety reliever
Vitamin D3 Reduces Risk of Common Health Concerns
Coffea Cruda for sleeplessness with mental hyperactivity
Our ancestors used to sleep twice a night
The secret to rest is staying in bed in the dark with eyes closed
Restful sleep and increasing melatonin levels naturally
My current sleep schedule
The In Between Places
My sleep habits are morphing again
I may not need to change my life, I may just need to change my perception of it
Not able to sleep? Turn Off The TV, Turn Off The Lights
Melatonin 101

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