Read the full video transcript below
Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about, "Is anxiety first thing in the morning a menopause symptom?"
Well, yes, it certainly is, and this was one of the symptoms that I used to experience every now and again. It's horrible. Even before you're fully awake, I used to find that my heart would start thumping, my brain would start going into overdrive, and it almost felt like someone was wringing out the inside of my stomach.
It was a very uncomfortable physical experience. And this kind of anxiety first thing can take so long to calm down, and it's just one of these things. I absolutely hated it.
Anxiety and your hormones
What's really happening here is that your oestrogen helps to control cortisol which is one of your stress hormones.
And once your oestrogen starts to fall, the cortisol can end up in bigger quantities, and that can then rev up your nervous system. And what happens is that just as you're waking up, just as you're coming to, that's when your nervous system springs into action, and what will happen is that your mind will start to race.
Now, in eons gone by, that would have been an important part for survival, but today, there aren't really any dangers in our bedroom. So the mind starts to make up possible potential threats, and you start to worry about what you've got to do when you get up, what you got to do that day.
You start worrying about what you didn't do yesterday. You get all these horrible, fearful scenarios about things happening to your family, to your friends, what's happening around the world. So your mind is going 10 to the dozen before you're even fully awake, and that will also affect you physically. And it's a really horrible, horrible symptom to have to deal with.
And as I say, it can take a long time before everything calms down, and you can actually feel normal again. So what can you do to look after this?
What causes anxiety in the morning & how to stop it?
Well, one of the main causes is just general stress. We know our bodies are stressed generally in the menopause. Our nervous system is already in flight-or-fight mode, practically 24 hours a day.
So anything that we can do to calm this down is going to help us first thing in the morning.
What can help?
So look at trying to get a good night's sleep. Now, I know that this is a really hard one because falling oestrogen will affect your sleep anyway. The majority of you are probably finding that sleep's not easy to come and if you do fall asleep, it can be a very light sleep when you're waking up.
If you're getting night sweats, you're going to be hit double. And that means that when you do wake up in the morning, you're nowhere near rested, and your nervous system is still in full flight mode. And this can be one of the major triggers for early morning anxiety. But try, you know, there's lovely sleeping remedies like our Dormeasan.
Another thing which I found really helpful was to get a powdered magnesium and to take a spoonful of that last thing at night in a cup of warm water. It really seemed to calm my nervous system down.
Look at the noise your alarm makes, especially if you have some of these electric ones. They make you jump the minute they ring. If you're fast asleep, you're jumping, that will trigger your nervous system.
So maybe go for an alarm that starts off really slowly, it maybe plays a nice tune rather than some kind of jarring noise that's going to cause problems. Try and plan your morning the night before, because I know for me the minute I came to, "Oh, I've got to do this before I go to work. I've got to do this. I've got to do that."
So try and plan as much as you can for your early morning routine, so that it's done and dusted before you get up, and that's one less thing that you need to worry about, too.
When you do wake up, take a few minutes, even set your alarm five minutes early, so that when it's gone off, you don't have to jump straight out of bed.
You can take your time, just have a few deep breaths, and that can be wonderfully calming before you even get out of bed. You can look at other calming herbs. If you're getting a lot of anxiety during the day, that will then compound itself during the night so we've got lovely remedies like AvenaCalm, Passiflora Complex, or you could look at Stress Relief Daytime.
So any of the nice calming remedies during the day can often be of benefit when this all triggers the following morning.
Low Blood Sugar
It can be due to low blood sugars. And very often, if you're not eating enough, then your nervous system is going to be triggered by low blood sugars in the morning, so contrary to a lot of advice, I always recommend a good snack before you go to bed.
What can help?
Doesn't have to be a heavy one, something like an oatcake and cheese, if that's okay with you. A nice plain yoghurt, no sugar, maybe a little few berries in it can be really helpful. You could try my favourite recipe which is the Greek yoghurt and a teaspoon of organic cocoa powder.
Organic cocoa is full of magnesium, so this is going to give you a lovely hit just before you go to bed. Or even just a handful of nuts and seeds can be very helpful. Have that about an hour before you go to bed. And a lot of women tell me that, that can make a lot of difference for their sleep, and your nervous system will be more rested in the morning as well.
It can also be dehydration. This is really important. If you're getting night sweats, you are going to be so dehydrated by the time that you wake up. Dehydration will trigger your nervous system and will set this whole early morning anxiety off as well.
What can help?
So what I find, as I mentioned before was a nice little drink before going to bed, a small shot glass of warm water.
Often, that will be enough to stave off the dehydration during the night. And have a nice glass, a reasonably-sized glass of water by your bedside so that when you do wake up, you're having a drink. You're hydrating yourself before you get out of bed, and that will help to calm the anxiety quicker as you go about your morning day-to-day.
Watch that you're not having too much caffeine at night because that late night cup of tea, or coffee, or glass of alcohol, or fizzy juices, that caffeine in there and the alcohol can rev up your nervous system, and that can be a big factor the next morning, too.
So at night, try to go with calming herbs like chamomile. Even a little cup of nice cocoa with your organic cocoa powder in it can be a nice early or late evening drink.
So as you can see, there's a lot of things that you can do to help with this early morning anxiety. There are a number of other triggers as well, and maybe we can go into that at some other point.
If any of you have any other issues with this, please do get in touch. And I will see you next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.