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Sleep After 40: Tips for Beating Insomnia and Overcoming a Negative Relationship with Sleep

woman-sleeping-in-cozy-blue-bedding-sqWe can naturally improve our sleep architecture to prevent insomnia in several ways. Leaning into our circadian rhythm, changing our sleep environment, and even seeing a sleep therapist can have massive benefits in changing our sleep patterns for the better—and not just for this chapter of perimenopause and menopause we find ourselves in, but for our lifetimes!

Lean Into Your Circadian Rhythm

An easy way to realign your circadian rhythm is through your light and dark management. One of the simplest changes to make is to expose your eyes to natural light within one hour of waking up. The sunlight needs to hit your eyes and your retina. It sends a signal to your suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is a circadian pacemaker. This light cues your body to shut down melatonin production from the night before and boosts your serotonin and cortisol levels, which control mood and energy.

As night falls, we need to dim the lights once again. This will work as a signal to your body that it’s time to start winding down. Using an amber-colored light in your bedroom is even better. When you’ve been awake for about 16 hours, you’ve accumulated enough adenosine, the sleep chemical, which will help you become sleepy around the same time each day.

To help this body rhythm, be sure to set your alarm for roughly the same period of time daily, as that will also strengthen and train your circadian rhythm. Eating your meals at consistent times will also help your body’s rhythms.

Move Your Phone

To improve your sleep, you also need to improve your phone habits. This is a tough one to tackle because we’re all guilty of scrolling too much at night and mindlessly watching videos at all hours of the night.

While it’s understandable why we keep doing it—the small dopamine hits it gives us are hard to quit—we need to give ourselves a curfew to improve our sleep health. There should be no phone in the bedroom (this should apply to TVs, too). It removes the stimuli from your line of sight and keeps the sleep disruptions to a minimum.

Do What Works for You!

Recent studies show that about 25% of couples sleep apart. It could be because of snoring by one partner or both, or it could be caused by couples with opposite work schedules. For years and years, this was seen as taboo and looked down upon—a harbinger of divorce.

The emerging science says it’s a pretty good idea, especially if your current arrangement keeps you both from a good night’s rest.

Try creating a new sleep alliance that works for both of you. Coined by Morgan Adams, the transformational holistic sleep coach I spoke with recently for my podcast Menopause Mastery, a sleep alliance is a decision you make together.

That might mean for you and your spouse or significant other you choose to sleep separately during the week and with one another on the weekends. Or maybe you sleep separately every night. It’s about creating a plan that works for you and your partner.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Benefits for Insomnia

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be more effective in the short and long term for improved sleep health than sleeping pills. It has long-lasting results in coordination with diet changes, increased exercise, and the restructuring of your circadian rhythm.

Though some people may question the necessity of a sleep coach or therapist, taking away medication while offering suggestions for lifestyle changes isn’t going to be effective enough for many people. It’s typically a complex situation that has resulted in someone’s insomnia, with many moving parts, and that needs a comprehensive solution.

Having a sleep therapist or coach means you have someone to call out regressive behaviors they observe while they continue to find ways and offer suggestions to help you change your habits. It’s the final part of the puzzle for many patients.

Build Better Habits to Beat Insomnia

As our bodies change and experience the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, we’re also moving through big life changes. Together, this can be a perfect storm that leads to many sleepless nights. But in this case, the easiest answer—a pill—can be the most harmful one.

Insomnia is beatable, but you must restructure and stick to your habits. As a result, you’ll actually get the deep, restorative sleep your body and brain need without the harmful side effects from benzos or sedative-hypnotics like Ambien.

For more tips about mastering menopause, be sure to visit our website,, and listen to more from our podcast here.


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