Daylight Savings Time started today, which means the vast majority of people in the US “sprung forward” one hour in the middle of the night. It feels like one hour shouldn’t make a huge difference, but the fact is, heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents all increase in the days after DST.
Aside from DST and its effects, I’ve been thinking a lot about sleep in general lately. As a 48 year old woman in perimenopause, I’ve noticed sleep changes in the last couple of years that affect how rested I feel the next day. And I’m not alone – so many of my female friends tell me they are up at all hours of the night, suffering from night sweats, insomnia, and general feelings of exhaustion. I’m so tired some days it’s hard to function (which, admittedly, could also have something to do with the incessant snow and cloudy days we’ve been enduring this winter). While I’m hoping this will all work itself out over the course of this hormonal shift I’m going through, I feel like there are some things that I am doing recently that have been helpful. And there are some things I’m going to try this spring that I’m hoping will also help. I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, so if you want to try any of the supplements or modalities I’m discussing below, please make sure you consult with one before you start.
MAGNESIUM: I’ve been taking magnesium at night for years. I generally take 250 mg a night of Magnesium Citrate. Known as the “relaxing supplement”, I have noticed it really does make a huge difference. On nights when I forget to take it, my sleep is much worse. That being said, actual evidence is thin. Read this for more info.
EYE MASK: I started using this eye mask recently, which blocks out all light from my eyes. We live in a more urban setting which includes city lights making the sky brighter, street lights, security floodlights on neighbors’ houses, planes flying overhead, ambulances speeding down our street, etc. Plus both of our digital clocks are bright. Using this mask has helped me to sleep so much more deeply. It has an adjustable nose piece that lets you pinch it shut to your liking. At just about $10, it’s affordable and effective.
MELATONIN BODY LOTION: I tried out this lotion on my lower back/SI joints before bed, and holy cow. It made me sleep HARD. It also gave me incredibly vivid and imaginative dreams. I’m not sure the effects the day after are desirable, as I do feel like even though I slept great the night before, I felt some “hangover” effects from the melatonin. I’m one of those people who is sensitive to melatonin though. If you aren’t, this could be really useful for you.
BORING PODCASTS: I started listening to the podcast called Boring Books at Bedtime last month and it works like magic. A woman with a really soothing voice literally just reads super boring books. The benefit of this is that it allows my brain to shut off and I usually fall asleep within a few minutes. Otherwise, my brain goes into overdrive and sometimes won’t shut off. I also do meditation apps, which are super helpful. I like Calm and Headspace.
WHITE NOISE: I have tinnitus (that annoying ringing in your ears all. the. time.) To cover up that noise, we keep a fan or humidifier going all the time at night.
KEEPING MY ROOM COOL: I have started cracking the window at night, even in the dead of winter. When I don’t, I wake up sweaty. When I do, I sleep much more peacefully.
WEIGHTED BLANKET: I love mine, and when I travel and don’t have one, I can tell the difference. Mine is old and out of stock, but there are tons of options out there.
There are some things I do that are huge no-no’s in terms of sleep hygiene, such as looking at my phone up until the minute I put it down to go to sleep, having a TV in the room, and drinking caffeine in the afternoon. We cannot be perfect, and up until recently I didn’t feel like those habits were detrimental to my sleep. I’m willing to revisit those if my sleep quality tanks.
What I am willing to do right now:
BLUE FILTER GLASSES: These were recommended by the New York Times and are under $10. Easy.
ABSTAIN FROM ALCOHOL MOST DAYS: I have started recently reserving Fridays and Saturdays (and occasionally Sunday) for my favorite cocktail or glass of wine, and staying “dry” the other nights. I am committing to doing this through the spring to see if it helps my sleep. I know it’s healthy in a lot of other ways, too!
What do you use to help you sleep at night? Drop a comment below! For those dealing with a time change, I hope this next week isn’t too painful!