How to tackle night-time menopause symptoms


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


26 June 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be discussing things that wake you up in the middle of the night.

Now, a few weeks ago, I posted a blog about how things during the day can affect your sleep. So, if you haven't seen that one, then please check that one out first because it's always better to try and prevent something from happening rather than waiting until you wake up in the middle of the night and then have to sort it.

But there's a number of symptoms that we know of that can very often wake you up in the middle of the night, can cause a lot of sleep issues, and I thought I would run through them. And also, some of the little tips that might actually help you to minimize them or to help you get back to sleep a lot quicker.

Night sweats

So, here we go. Well, number one is obviously going to be the night sweats. These can be minor ones, you might get woken up now and again with the night sweats, and in which case it's normally fine just to try and get back to sleep.

But for a lot of women, these night sweats can go on and on during the night. They can be very distressing. They can soak you enough for you to have to get up, and change your bedding, and change your clothes, and then any thought of sleep is just a no-go.

What can you do?

Drink water

So, what can you do for the night sweats? Remember first of all, dehydration is a big issue, so that first night sweat that you get that wakes you up, make sure that you have a little glass of water by your bedside because extra dehydration from the first night sweat can then trigger more of them during the night. 

Check your bedding - natural fibres are best

The really important thing here though is to have a good look at your bedding and your nightwear. Man-made fibres are great. They wash easily, they dry quickly, but they will not allow your body to breathe. And when you're having severe night sweats, it's an indication that your body is having a real struggle at regulating your body temperature.

So, you need to be in bed and have night clothes that are breathable as possible. So, we're looking at natural fibres. You could be looking at things, mainly like cotton, although silk can be a great one if we want to go to those lengths. 

Natural down duvets

Now, the type of bedding you have is also really important. If at all possible, try and go for natural down duvets. The reason being is that before you go to bed each night, you can really plump them up. You can allow lots of air in there, and that's going to be absolutely great at helping your body to breathe and regulate its temperature.

So, a good plump up before bed is a really good idea. Try and do the same if you can with pillows. Give them a good plump up too, because a lot of the night sweats can very often be the neck and the head, and that's possibly because you may be lying on a man-made fibre pillow that's not allowing you to breathe that way. 

Mattress toppers

We've also got these mattress toppers, these memory foam mattress toppers. Now, they are great for comfort. You know, I really love mine. But your body sinks into them and it allows absolutely no space between whatever part of your body is on the mattress and the mattress. And you can really sweat a lot from having these types of mattresses. So for night sweats and night flushes, these are really best avoided.

Real wool bed fleeces

The other thing that you can have, which I've been told is really good, is if you get one of the real wool bed fleeces, one of these under blankets. Because they're made of real sheep's wool, they absorb sweat very, very easily so you can either lie directly on top of them or put a cotton sheet on the top. And the great thing about these ones because they're very, very light, they wash really easy so you can have a couple on the go and it means that you're just washing the bedding on a regular basis.

No bright lights

If you have to get up during the night and change either your bedding or your clothes, try to have a really dim light on in the bedroom. If you have a bright light, that's going to stir your brain up and it's going to make it much more difficult to get back to sleep once you're comfortable. So have as dim as a light as you possibly can, and have everything by the bedside so that you don't have to go wandering around through doors and cupboards.

The more we move during the night when we get up, then the more our body is awakened if you like, and then it becomes more and more difficult to get to sleep. So, have everything ready in that way so that you can get back into bed as quick as possible.

Drink

And remember that extra drink. Now, it doesn't need to be a lot because if you drink too much, within an hour or two, you're going to be running to the toilet. I love these little shot glasses because they are just about the right amount of water that you need to help you get back to sleep.

Eileen recommends...

Sage tablets or tincture for the night sweats or night flushes.
The herb Sage is known to help support the hypothalamus and reduce/stop night sweats.

Joint aches and pain

So, the next thing, which is also a big one, is joint aches and pains. And this can be really debilitating again, you know, if you're in a lot of pain, if your joints are aching, it can wake you up. But it also means you can never get comfortable in bed. You're never going to be able to relax properly in order to help you to get to sleep.

What can you do?

Memory foam topper

Now, in this instance as long as you're not getting the night sweats as well, then probably one of these memory foam toppers would be a really good idea because they can help to support your body really well.

Magnesium 

The other thing you can look at is to take a magnesium supplement before you go to bed or to try some of the magnesium skin sprays. The reason being is if you're low in magnesium, that can cause muscle tightness and that can then pull on the joints and make the joints more uncomfortable.

Drink water

So, relaxing your muscles as you're going to bed can be of real benefit to easing joint pain in the middle of the night. And again, joint pain in the night can be due to hydration so remember to be drinking that little bit of water just before you go to bed.

Devil's claw

You can also look at the herb devil's claw. You can take that maybe an hour before bed because that's known to help to ease joint inflammation and pain too. 

Palpitations

We've got palpitations. Oh, this is a horrible one. This was one of my symptoms. You're just getting off to sleep, and suddenly the heart kicks in and it starts thumping away. And you're just thinking, "Oh, something terrible is going to happen." It's an awful one.

This is due to the nervous system being triggered either by what you're thinking about or the fact that your nervous system has been really revved up during the day. So, if you get a lot of night-time palpitations, first of all, do get it checked out by your doctor just in case it's not related to the menopause.

What can you do?

Keep calm!

Then you need to look at definitely calming yourself in the evening. Calming drinks, calming thoughts, books, TV, and what have you. But if you wake up and you're getting a palpitation, one of the easiest ways to control it is to start doing some really deep, slow breathing, and this is a nice one to practice because eventually, it will become second nature. The minute you find the palpitations kicking in, you can go into good relaxation, and that can help a great deal as well.

Magnesium night spray

You could also look at the magnesium night spray just before you go to bed to help to calm the nervous system down.

Flower essences

If it's the thoughts that are keeping you awake and causing the palpitations, we've got one of the lovely flower essences which is night essence, and that is a great one just for shutting off all those thoughts and calming the mind. 

Sleep problems

We've got women who wake up, you know 3, 4 o'clock in the morning. They're wide awake. They're raring to go. And it seems for some women that they need less sleep during the menopause. Some women find they get up, they've got plenty of energy, and then they need to go back to bed about 6 o'clock because the time just comes on again. For other women, it just becomes a routine that you need to get up earlier.

What can you do?

Try going to bed earlier

If you find you're waking earlier and earlier and you're still a bit tired, then it really is a good idea to try and get to bed that little bit earlier in the evening, so you're still getting a decent amount of sleep because we know sleep is vital for the menopause.

Use the time wisely

If however you find at 4 o'clock, you're up, you're wide awake, and you want to get up, you want to move about, use this time well. Don't get up and start doing the housework, the ironing or washing the floors, because you then rev yourself up. Your nervous system kicks in because you're like, "What can I do? Oh, I must do this, I must do that." So, before you've even started your day, your nervous system is already in gear.

So, use this time for yourself, especially if no one else is up in the house. And you can do some reading, you can do just listening to nice music. Use the time to meditate. It's a great time, first thing in the morning to get the meditation done, and then the rest of the day you'll be in a much better state.

You can use it to do things you want to do but don't have time to do during the day. I know someone who gets up and uses that time as her painting time.

And just remember, it can be such a nice start to the day to start really quietly. If you have a quick burst of energy and find that you do all these things and then you need to go back to bed, you might find that just getting an extra couple of hours after you've done that little bit of gentle activity will give you a nice little power sleep before you have to get up and start the rest of your day. 

Irritated bladder

Now, the next one is the bladder. This is a horrible one because we can end up having an irritated bladder which can be really uncomfortable and sometimes can be very sore.

We can have a weak bladder, so both of these can end up waking us up in the middle of the night and there's nothing worse than having to run to the toilet and go back to bed and you're just settling down and then you think, "Oh, I need to go again." So, you can get really disrupted sleep with this. 

Now, what we tend to do here is we think, "Well, I'm getting up during the night, therefore if I don't drink anything at night or in the evening, I won't need to get up to go to the toilet." The problem here is if you don't drink enough during the night, your urine is going to get very acidic. It's going to get very concentrated and if your bladder is already on the weak side, then that acidic urine is going to irritate the bladder. That's going to wake you up and you're gonna want to go to the toilet.

What can you do?

So, this is another situation where drinking plenty of water during the day is going to help. Watch what you drink in the evening, and try that little shot glass of warm water before you go to bed. Every time you get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, have a little glass of water once you're finished.

The reason being is if you don't, if your urine is already acidic and then you go back to bed, then the next lot of urine that starts to collect in the bladder is going to be even more acidic, and that's going to irritate the bladder further. So, get into the habit. I always have a little shot glass by my sink and I just make it a habit. If I have to get up during the night, then I drink a glass of that before I go back to bed, and it could be really helpful. 

Digestion

Now, the digestion can be one that can wake us up in the middle of the night and the classic sign if you wake up between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. This is a classic sign that your liver is overactive and it's working too hard. And it can just be the business of the liver. You're not obviously gonna feel the liver churning away, but the activity of the liver can be enough to break through your sleep.

And remember that in the menopause, lower oestrogen stops us from having a really deep sleep, so we're in a situation where our sleep is much lighter. And if our digestive system starts to work up, then that can be enough to wake us up. It can be the liver.

What can I do?

Milk Thistle Complex

So, if you're waking up between 1:00 and 3:00, something like Milk Thistle Complex can be a lovely one to take, just to help to support liver function. 

Yarrow Complex

But it can sometimes just be a one-off, you know, if you've had a late meal, if you've had a very stodgy meal, if you've had a very fatty meal, then these can really stress your digestive system and that will wake you up as well.

If you're in a lot of discomfort or if you find this is happening regularly, then look at what you're eating in the evening and then maybe go for a lighter option, and eat a little bit earlier in the evening. But we have a lovely remedy called Yarrow Complex, which is a nice digestive aid, and you could have a little glass with some drops of that sitting by the bedside, if you're waking up on a regular basis for that as well.

Balance Drink

Now, you could also try something called Balance. We've got a drink that's a combination of calcium, magnesium, and zinc, and vitamin D3. And very often, if you've had a really heavy meal, it can acidify the body. So, Balance Drink is an alkalizer. It's got the magnesium in it, so again, if your mind is racing, if you're a little bit stressed, then a little drink of that can actually relax everything and hopefully get you back off to sleep as well. 

Leg cramps and restless legs

I'm getting out of breath with all these symptoms. We can look at leg cramps and restless legs. This is another horrible one because there you are just getting off to sleep and suddenly, your legs have a mind of their own and they're jumping all over the place. This can be really painful and it can take ages before everything calms down.

What can I do?

Magnesium

Again, this tends to be low magnesium, so look at your magnesium uptake during the day. You can use a magnesium skin spray on the legs before you go to bed.

Mag Phos

You could also look, there's a lovely tissue salt remedy called Mag Phos. They're tiny little tablets. You can just put a few of them under the tongue just before you go to bed and that can often help to very quickly reduce the leg cramps.

Check your circulation

However, with this one, it could also be due to the circulation. So it's a good one if you're getting the leg cramps or the restless legs on a regular basis, just get that one checked out by your doctor. 

Burning feet

And the other one that could be a horrible one is hot feet, burning feet. And again, this is one where women tell me that they get to bed and all of a sudden, their feet really heat up and they have to stick them out the bottom of the blanket to try and cool them down.

What can I do?

Low vitamin B5

This can often be an indication of low vitamin B5, and in which case, take a nice vitamin B complex and an extra supplement of vitamin B5 and very often that can work quickly.

Uric acid build-up

It can also be an indication of a build-up of uric acid in the system and very often, burning feet may be accompanied by joint aches and pains. If this is the case, then a couple of cups of nettle tea a day can be very useful.

You can look at nettle tincture as well because nettle is wonderful. It's an alkalizer. It helps to support the kidneys in getting rid of uric acid. And if you're also getting kinda gouty joints, nettle is a wonderful remedy for that one as well. 

Can't sleep

And last but not least, is just the fact that you can't sleep. There's no rhyme or reason for it. You might find that you're really tired and you're just so looking forward to getting into bed. You get to bed, and then you're just tossing and turning. You can't relax. Your brain's going at 50 miles an hour. Or it may be that you get off to sleep fine, and then you wake up at 1 o'clock, you wake up at o'clock, you wake up at half 4 in the morning, and you can't get off to sleep.

This is just mainly the fact that your body can't relax for some reason. It may well be your oestrogen is just not allowing you to get a decent night's sleep. It could be all the thoughts in your head, you know, we have extra anxiety. We have so much going on in our lives.

We're busy people as we're going through the menopause and sometimes, our mind just runs away with this and that stops the sleep.

What can I do?

Dormeasan and Mood Essence

So if you're in this situation, you could look at our sleep remedy Dormeasan. We've got Mood Essence, a flower essences and my favorite one, and I always recommend this for women who do too much, is Relaxation Essence. And I have a little bottle by my bedside and I find that if I wake up in the middle of the night and my thoughts are like a whirlpool going round and round and round with no end, I just put a couple of drops straight onto my tongue, and that normally helps me just to calm down and to get back off to sleep.


So, I hope you found this one interesting. If any of you out there are woken up by other symptoms that I haven't mentioned, I would love to hear about it. And if I get many, then I would do another one of what can wake you up in the middle of the night. Until then, I look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause. 

Menopause Support can provide support to the body through all stages of the Menopause but is especially useful when broad range of symptoms such as hot flushes, irritability, tiredness, pains and aches, vaginal dryness etc kick in.

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A herbal dietary supplement containing soy isoflavones, magnesium and hibiscus extract for all stages of the menopause.

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  • Sue's photo avatar
    Sue — 28.06.2017 18:06
    I've been taking Co-amizolide for about 30 years due to swollen legs and feet.Is there a natual you can suggest please Eileen? They look so ugly now.

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 29.06.2017 10:48
      Hi Sue If you feel that your tablets are not helping anymore then it is important to let your doctor know. In the meantime there is no contraindication listed taking Venaforce with this medication but just let your doctor know that you wish to try it. Remember to drink lots of water as dehydration can be a big factor!

      Reply

  • ann's photo avatar
    ann — 28.06.2017 08:20
    Hi Eileen, Thank you, that is very helpful. I have tried looking for an affordable wool bed fleece, do you have any further information please. Thanks Ann.

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 29.06.2017 10:48
      Hi Ann You could check here, although they are recommended for other health issues they should work well for this too! You may need to copy and paste this link if it doesn't work from here. https://www.homeandmedical.co.uk/healthcareaid/lambswool-fleece-nursing-bed-pad

      Reply

  • Adele's photo avatar
    Adele — 27.06.2017 12:23
    Yet again a wonderful blog with so much information to help me to deal with the lack of sleep which I have suffered with for many months now. Thanks so much Eileen xx

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 29.06.2017 10:48
      Hi Adele Glad to be of help, thanks for watching!

      Reply

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