by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
Our internal clocks can be disrupted by ongoing stress of almost any kind – and women today have ongoing stress of all kinds.
In times of chronic unrelenting stress, women can experience adrenal dysfunction and eventually become cortisol dominant. High cortisol can actually change our normal sleep cycling and reduce the amount of restorative (REM) sleep you experience.
One of the first things to do is to look at what is really causing stress in your life – is it a family member? Too much to do in a day? Chronic dieting? Your job? Sometimes writing things down help bring them into your awareness and then you can start to problem solve.
The good news is the that once you have identified this type of insomnia pattern, there are steps you can take to restore your normal rhythm! Remember that insomnia is a symptom of what else is going on in your life.
- Eat well! I recommend that women eat three meals and two snacks per day. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable – putting less of a burden on your body. Consider reducing or eliminating sugar, caffeine and alcohol from your diet.
- Exercise mindfully. If you don’t exercise, consider starting a regime so that your body feels physically tired. Pick something you enjoy – walking, dancing, biking, yoga – anything that feels good to you!
- Consider adrenal testing. Talk with a qualified healthcare professional.
- Try herbs and nutrients that support sleep naturally. Taking a magnesium and calcium supplement before bed can be very helpful for some women. Chamomile, valerian and passion flower have been used for a long time to support sleep.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day – and remember that we need seven to nine hours sleep a night. Turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed.
While insomnia can be frustrating for many women, there are ways to regain your sleep – try some of our easy steps. You may be surprised at the difference just a change or two makes!