So, 5779 is in full swing, the heating is on and we’re all getting ready to hibernate. Personally, I love this time of year: chunky boots, cosy evenings and misty, mellowly fruitfulmornings. But I didn’t always salute the early winter sun. Off and on for the past 15 years, I have suffered from severe, disabling insomnia. Right now, it’s not too bad – I get an average of five hours a night – but I always assumed the darker months would lead to more, and better sleep.
Apparently not, according to ‘sleep evangelist’ and psychologist Dr Sophie Bostock, (www.thesleepscientist.com) ‘Because we have less exposure to light this time of year, we have a shorter ‘photo period’,’ she says. ‘Our circadian rhythm is affected and our body clock doesn’t wake up properly. This means we are less likely to sleep well the following night.’
For those of menopausal age lack of sleep becomes a pressing issue.
Deborah Forsythe is a consultant who runs clinics advising menopausal women on how to get through this time (dfclinics.com). ‘There are three main symptoms around the menopause,’ she says. ‘Inability to lose weight, especially around the middle, ‘brain fog’, and insomnia. Our bodies instinctively want to behave as they did when we were cave people – waking up at dawn, eating early evening. And menopause is a natural process. But we have 2019 lifestyles to negotiate.”
In her clinic, Deborah treats her patients with bio-identical hormones. “They are synthesized from a plant chemical extracted from Wild Yams – and are a natural alternative to HRT. Women can benefit from bio-identical therapy because it can provide relief from a wide range of symptoms experienced during the menopause.”
Now for the sleep experts tips
Get a ‘baby’ routine
‘Think back to when you were a child or had a baby of your own,” says Deborah.“The routine was early tea, slow play, bath, hot drink, bedtime story. Adult’s need their own version. Try listening to white noise, a gentle podcast or an app such as headspace.com. Dodow, (mydodow.com) is my favourite -a device which helps slow your breathing, in preparation for sleep.”
Eat for sleep
Deborah recommends a low-carb, higher fat diet including cream in your coffee, but no caffeine after midday. “I also advise patients not to eat within two hours before bed. Other unrelated research suggests that foods rich in a substance called tryptophan can aid sleep by converting chemicals in the gut to serotonin, which is associated with healthy sleep.
Miranda’s sleep stuff
L’Occitane Prestige Relaxing candle £59.99
Contemplating the gloomy afternoons gets easier if you have some Provençal sunshine and lavender waiting for you at home. The Coco de Sérénité candle is also infused with sweet orange, bergamot and mandarin. Lovely for the bath –
don’t set fire to your duvet!An expensive treat.
The Mela Comfort Weighted Blanket (£124.99)
Weighted blankets have been a ‘Thing’ in the US for a while. Cover yourself with this 15lb quilt, and feel like a toddler cosily tucked in after a bath and a bedtime story. I like this product so much, I drape it over my knees during the evening (in fact, now!) to relax and decompress. Bit hot for overnight (for me), but others love it.
Puressential restful range include the Rest & Relax Bath- Shower (£9.99) and the Airspray (£16.99).
Instructions tell you to spritz the latter into the four corners of your bedroom – then inhale 12 essential oils including rosewood, neroli, and sandlewood. It’s very calming: as is the bath and shower oil. More reasonably-priced than similar products.
“Going back to basics helps prepare for a restful night’s sleep,” notes Deborah.“Talk to the people you live with. Read a book, not a Kindle or electronic device. Writing a journal can help empty the mind, and is a cathartic exercise. ‘You go to bed with an empty mind, having processed what you’ve done that day, and how you feel.”
Light up your life
There isn’t much to be done about short days and long nights. But you can illuminate the subject by investing in a light ‘alarm clock’. “Waking up to a room bathed in light can go a long way in minimising the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression,’ says Sophie Bostock. Try the Philips Sleep and Wake-Up Light (£149.99 philips.co.uk), or the Lumie Body Clock Glow 150 Wake Up to Daylight SAS light (£71.99 johnlewis.com).
Add sunshine to your diet
Deficiency in Vitamin D can affect sleep duration and quality. The latest advice from Public Health England suggests adults and children over the age of one year should have 10 micrograms (mcg) of a vitamin D supplement every day. Take exercise in the open air whenever you can.
Park your FitBit or sleep tracker
At least during night-time hours. Guy Leschziner is the clinical lead at Guy’s hospital in London, and the author of The Nocturnal Brain (Simon and Schuster). ‘Anything that draws attention to sleep can make it worse, and cause anxiety even in ‘normal sleepers’, he says. ‘Most importantly, sleep trackers do not contribute to the treatment of insomnia. They may do significant harm.’
Embrace your hours of wakefulness
Columnist and author Julie Burchill calls her insomnia ‘Extra life’ and says: While such celebration is a tough ask if you are exhausted and miserable, there’s something to be said for filling your time with something that makes you happy.
A little help from hemp CBD oil
The CBD oil (Cannabidiol) sold in the UK is derived from Hemp, a sister plant to Marijuana that has a high CBD composition. When the body is deficient in human cannabinoids, it can’t function properly which impairs many things including memory, mood, appetite and SLEEP. CBD is a supplement that is proven to restore the balance and used regularly will aid restful sleep. Be sure to buy from a reputable company such as Hugg or Bud and Tender which produces a fruity-tasting 100% pure CBD Cannabis oil for is restorative and aids sleep and anxiety.
The company also makes personal recommendations, based on an individual’s needs and with two strengths 1000mg(£80)and 500mg(£45) as everybody is different. They advise starting with a few drops under the tongue and working the dosage up until you feel the benefits. www.budandtender.com, www.thehugshop.co.uk