Inability to sleep at night can be managed

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If you are one of these women aged 40 and over who find it difficult to sleep, know that you are not alone. Many women wake up every night between 12 midnight and 4 am and start prowling around the house. In frustration, you may begin pacing the house, cleaning the kitchen floor, surfing the Internet or watching CNN or movies on late night TV.

Getting a good night’s sleep becomes more and more difficult as we age, but women in menopause find it particularly difficult to get such. In many cases this inability to sleep is due to too much estrogen in your system, which is not balanced by progesterone.

Before menopause, estrogen is the dominant hormone for about the first two weeks in the menstrual cycle and progesterone is dominant in the last two weeks of the cycle. When menopause occurs naturally these two hormones should continue to balance each other, but if you are a woman leading a stressful lifestyle during menopause, you may find that your production of progesterone is suppressed and or converted to stress hormones and you will have a dominance of estrogen in your system leading to sleeplessness and other unpleasant menopausal symptoms.

Using a little progesterone cream made from natural bio identical plant sources may help you to easily solve this problem. The right way to use progesterone cream or oil is to use about 1/8 to ¼ of a teaspoon daily for three weeks out of the month, with a week off each month to maintain sensitivity of the progesterone receptors.

Natural progesterone cream made from bio-identical plant sources is not the same as the synthetic hormone progestin, which is made from animal sources.

I know of some women who have not slept for longer than four hours since they started menopause. When they were given some progesterone cream they reported that they were able to sleep for eight hours. This was a major turning point in their recovery from a long list of menopausal and health problems.

If it’s not hormones, what is it? Look for the simplest solutions first. If after taking progesterone cream you still cannot sleep, then you need to look for other causes. Another very common cause of sleeplessness is due to food intolerance or allergies. Most people will have a high spike in blood sugar levels after eating or drinking something sweet.

This is fine during the day but eating sugary foods at bedtime will lead to a hypoglycemia episode 90 minutes later, which will result in a surge of adrenaline that will keep you awake for several hours.

If you suffer from chronic insomnia it is a good idea to keep a diary of the food you eat so that you can correlate foods eaten and the quality of your sleep each night. This way you can begin to have a better sense of foods that help you to sleep and those that pump up your system to keep you tossing and turning all night.

The liver does its job of digesting your food between 1am and 3 am. If you eat anything that it finds difficult to digest then you will likely be waking up around this time. Eating late may also cause insomnia for this reason. Try to eat no later than 6pm so that your food would have had time to digest before you sleep.

Drugs are not the answer

Have you noticed that when you have a cold or cough and you take cold and allergy medications at night you are unable to sleep? Many of these drugs can cause insomnia even when they claim to be nighttime brands, with a sleeping aid designed to help you sleep.

Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs can also cause sleeplessness. These include antidepressants, asthma medications, painkillers, some of the heart drugs, and thyroid medication. You need these medications so you cannot stop taking them, however, you can change the time you take them. Try taking these medications in the morning and early afternoon and see if that helps you to sleep better.

If you have high blood pressure and you have been put on diuretic drugs twice a day, you might be up and down all night to urinate. Reducing the dose and changing the dosage times to avoid taking it in the evening might also help you considerably.

If you’re tossing and turning at night, visit your pharmacist and ask for the information inserts for any drugs you’re taking, buy a magnifying glass, and read them. If insomnia is listed as a possible side effect, talk to your doctor, and don’t accept a sleeping pill as a solution! Taking the drug at a different time during the day, or taking a lower dose, will often solve the problem.

The causes of our insomnia are usually sitting right in front of us, in plain view. Here are some of the most common culprits:

Caffeine: This is, no doubt, the number one cause of insomnia, especially with those of you who can’t resist an afternoon cappuccino.

You may not realise that many soft drinks, including energy drinks, have caffeine in them. Most soft drinks are loaded with caffeine. Try holding off on the caffeine after noon for a few weeks, and see what happens. Again if you find that you are one of the people who is affected by the caffeine in soft drinks don’t take them after 4 pm in the afternoon.

Some people cannot even drink decaffeinated coffee in the morning without having sleepless nights. I am one of them. After keeping off coffee and tea for some time, I tried taking decaffeinated coffee with coffee mate. I couldn’t resist the creamy taste. I found that I couldn’t sleep. Once I left the coffee, I slept better. I now drink only herbal teas.

Diet and “energy” pills and supplements often contain caffeine, ephedra, amino acids and other stimulants that can keep you awake at night.

Excessive alcohol intake: A glass of wine with dinner can be relaxing, but too much alcohol will keep you tossing and turning all night. You may fall asleep but wake up after a few hours and will be unable to sleep again.

Sedentary lifestyle: Couch potatoes often find themselves clutching the remote into the wee hours of the next day. Exercise is one of the best sleep remedies that I know of. A brisk 20-minute walk or any type of enjoyable exercise (preferably outdoors) sometime before 9 p.m. can be just the ticket. Exercise is also a good remedy for stress-induced tension, which can leave you lying awake and worrying instead of sleeping.

Enlarged prostate: Older men with benign prostate hypertrophy or BPH, who have to get up many times during the night, can often get relief with a saw palmetto supplement combined with zinc and selenium (follow directions on the container). This can be followed by Magnesium capsules not the tablets 400mg-500mg. If that doesn’t do the job, try a pea-sized dab of progesterone cream every day (using a progesterone cream that contains 450 to 500 mg of progesterone per ounce). Studies indicate that most men over the age of 65 years can benefit from a little bit of progesterone cream.

What about melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain in response to darkness. Its message to the body is, “time for sleep.” As we age we produce less and less melatonin and this may be a primary cause of the sleep problems so common among older people.

Sleep in complete darkness to enhance your production of melatonin. Get curtains that will completely block out the street and other neighborhood lights. Also, get a masking cap to cover night-lights on electrical gadgets in your room or get the electrician to remove these lights. If you’re past middle age and you have incorporated these commonsense sleep aids and you still cannot get enough sleep, you can try taking a melatonin supplement (an over-the-counter supplement) an hour before going to bed.

You don’t need much melatonin to have an effect — anywhere from 0.25 to five mg is good enough. If melatonin deficiency is your problem, you may sleep better the first night you take it. Please do not take melatonin supplements if you are healthy and middle-aged or younger.

Remember that taking sleeping pills bought over the counter or from a doctor on prescription and other anti-anxiety drugs will make you develop an unhealthy dependency on the drugs and make you feel woozy and tired during the day.

Taking sleeping pills are almost never the answer to insomnia. If you must take them, make sure they are taken only temporarily. The best thing to do is to find out what is causing your sleepless nights.

One week of body cleansing and regeneration

Most of the time the body accumulates a lot of toxins from our eating habits or foods that are incompatible, such as lactose (90 per cent of Africans are lactose intolerant) and food containing heavy metals, such as large fish and stock fish; as well as from toxins in the environment. These toxins lead to nasal and sinus congestions which cause difficulty in breathing while sleeping and inability to have good sleep.

They will also create an overload on the liver, thereby making the liver to be very stressed during its detoxification process. This results in the disturbance of sleep around 2am.

Spending one week in a medical detox spa like the Mayr Modern Medicine clinic (www.martlifedetoxclinic) will help rid the body of such toxins and regenerate the body system thereby making you to be able sleep like a baby again.