So it’s that time again.

Insomnia is a common complaint during the menopausal years. Many of us can’t sleep through the night. We often wake up in the small hours of the morning and can’t get back to sleep.

Often these awakenings coincide with a night sweat, where you to throw off the covers and stand in front of your fridge…with the door open. Sometimes you wake up with your heart pounding and in a state of anxiety for no reason. Many women experience very vivid dreams that wake them up. Other times there doesn’t seem to be any reason at all why you wake up at two and three and four in the morning, unable to fall back to sleep.

It’s possible that these awakenings are due to the body’s inability to maintain a consistent temperature due to hormonal fluctuations. Even if a hot flush isn’t apparent to you, it may be that your body temperature has risen to the point where continued sleep is impossible. It then takes a period of time before your body temperature falls again, making getting back to sleep somewhat challenging. Good sleeping habits do help. (see Allison’s post on 6 Tips For a Well-Rested You)

It’s also possible that some women need to get used to the idea that they may be awake some nights for some period of time. If one tries to stay calm and do restful, relaxing things with that time, the resultant sleep loss may not be dramatic. Some women actually report being grateful for the extra time to catch up with reading and have some quiet time to themselves while the rest of the household sleeps.

As hormone levels even out, insomnia often becomes less of a problem.

In any case, a menopausal woman needs to be aware that it is quite normal to have these early morning awakenings and that there are many, many menopausal sisters awake with her.

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6 Tips For a Well-Rested You

Find yourself dozing off during the day? Struggling to get out of bed in the morning?  It could be that you’re simply not getting enough quality sleep.  Here are some tips I’ve found helpful for getting a good night’s sleep.

 

  1. Get active. Regular exercise may help reset your internal clock for a healthier sleep/wake pattern. You can try something as simple as going for a walk after dinner, or some yoga. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time between exercise and bedtime to recover.
  2. Unplug. Turn off the TV and any other electronic devices before you get into bed. Avoid the late-night news or any violent shows that might be unsettling. The blue lights from computer monitors, smartphones and any other electric devices can also disturb sleep/wake cycles.
  3. Drink up. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soda before bedtime. Instead, opt for some warm milk.  Not only is it delicious and soothing, but the tryptophan in milk will help you feel sleepy.
  4. De-stress. If you find you can’t shut your brain off when your head hits the pillow, you’ll never get the rest you need. Make a list of what needs to get done the next day, before you go to bed. This will clear your mind and allows you to “turn off” and fall asleep.
  5. Take time. Give yourself an hour to get ready for bed. Develop a soothing routine that lets your body know it’s time to get some shut-eye. Dim the lights, take a warm bath and turn down the thermostat.
  6. An extra step. If you’re still struggling to get fall asleep   or stay asleep, after trying these tips consider a non-prescription sleep aid like femMED SLEEP.  It’s a combination of herbs which are specially formulated to help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer.

Developing healthy sleeping habits is just as important for your long term health as eating well and exercising, something many of us don’t realize. Sleep is the time that our bodies use to recharge and rebuild. A good night’s sleep will help you stay mentally alert during the day, improve your memory and even lower stress. Try these tips and you’ll be amazed how at much better you’ll feel, both mentally and physically.

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Tough Mudder Check-in

In October, I set the ambitious goal to overhaul my lifestyle and start making healthy choices.  I decided to go big and signed up for the Toronto Tough Mudder in May 2013.  I wanted to have a goal that would keep me motivated throughout the year. I was inspired when I went last year to support my friends who ran the course. They too, had made the decision to make their health a priority and their results were inspiring. I was able to see exactly how their motivation paid off and allowed them to accomplish their goals.

The event is a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces to tests your speed, stamina and strength. What I liked most about this event, is the emphasis on completing the course and supporting those around you, even if they aren’t on your team.  Unlike a standard 5k run or marathon, improving your time and performance is not the overall goal. The goal is to test your abilities, get healthy, have fun, meet new people and enjoy the experience. There is even a BBQ  with live music, for participants and spectators at the finish line.

In order to meet the demanding physical requirements for the event, I knew I was going to need support. This is where working with my teammates came in handy. We ran together regularly to help build stamina and took advantage of the outdoors to help with strength training. For example, it was easy to use the monkey bars in the local playground to practice pull-ups and chin-ups. Running up and down an outdoor staircase helped work our gluts and hamstrings. We also incorporated push-ups, squats and crunches helping us create a full body workout. They only items we needed to bring with us were a timer and plenty of water.

Having a goal and a support system has been essential to my success. Not only do I feel better, but I have lost weight and made new friends. The Tough Mudder is now only two months away and I can’t wait to cross that finish line.

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Why Puberty and Menopause Don’t Mix

I’m like many women who had their kids when they were older…say late 30′s. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, since it allowed me to focus on my career and postpone serious responsibility, I have now discovered there is a reason why women may want to have their kids when they’re younger. It’s called menopause.

Just at the point when your kids are entering puberty, you are entering menopause. So when you mix together 1 part menopause, 2 parts puberty and a dash of aging parents…you end up with the recipe for the perfect storm.

Many of my friends are in the same boat and what we all yearn for… is our own apartment. A place to go where everything is clean and tidy and pretty …and relatively hormone free. A place we can call our own. Where dirty dishes end up in the dishwasher and not hidden under beds. Where coats and knapsacks are hung up at the door, not on the floor covering the heat register and the only sounds are those sighs of contentment coming from you.

Not gonna happen anytime soon.

So…how is a menopausal women to cope?

Carve out a space in your home with a lock on the door and when you find the hormone levels in your house are above acceptable levels, give yourself a time out and retreat.

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Aging Gracefully with Dr. Pearlman

On Wednesday evening, we attended the second seminar hosted by Dr. Jennifer Pearlman at her clinic. The focus of the discussion was on the physical effects of aging on your appearance and the steps you can take to age in a graceful and healthy way.

The discussion highlighted how the aging process affects us physically over time and how hormonal shifts in our body such as menopause, can dramatically affect our appearance. The key takeaway was that it’s incredibly important to take care of your health, since it directly translates to your appearance.

  • Easy tips for skin care that we took home were:
  • The importance of drinking lots of water and eating plenty of colourful vegetables with high levels of antioxidants.
  • Always protect your skin from the sun throughout the entire year, not just the summer months!.
  • Manage your daily stress levels.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can age your skin prematurely by up to 10 years, which means if you’re in your fifties there’s a good chance you’ll be looking closer to your sixties!
Dr. Pearlman and her staff also covered a variety of topics and options on how to look youthful, but not over done with cosmetics.  She introduced us to a new line of make-up developed by celebrity make-up artist Michael Marcus. The goal of this new  line of make-up is to help women age gracefully while looking their best. All of the  products in this line are paraben free (paraben is a chemical preserve found in many beauty products such as shampoos, shaving gels and make-up) and all production is environmentally responsible. There was even a make-up artist on hand who demonstrated the benefits of each product and provided make-overs!  We loved that each of the colourful lipsticks, eye shadows and foundations were named after women who were a source of inspiration to the line’s creator.

 

After Dr.Pearlman’s presentation, many of the attendees shared their own personal stories and anecdotes, some funny and some serious, on how they began to noticed the physical changes in their appearance as they aged. They shared what beauty solutions they had all tried in the past and what was working for them now.  It was enlightening to hear from women of all ages in different stages of their lives, comment on their own personal experience with aging, and how they all found their own way to age gracefully.

 

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