(Sleeping) Beauty & the Beast

4.7.2016 | 22:50

We hear a lot about the importance of sleep and what’s considered good sleep hygiene, so I’m not going to belabor that.

No, what I want to talk about today is some of my sleep experience in recent years.

Sleep.

About 10 years ago, perimenopause hit me.  Hard.  It had been building up for quite some time, but then all of sudden I experienced an impressive menstrual irregularity.  Followed quickly by hot flashes, mood swings and sleep disturbances.

Admittedly, it was the mood swings that had me the most concerned.  But I wasn’t prepared for how hard the sleep thing would hit me.

Night sweats – incredible!  I went from regular sleepwear to … a lot less.

Waking up around 2 or 3 am, and awake for a good couple of hours, before (sometimes) falling back asleep for an hour or two.

Frustration mounted.  (Did I mention mood swings?)

Then Diane suggested I put the time to good use – by going out and walking around the neighborhood.  So I did – 5 am or 5:30 am walks.  I took a flashlight and walking a stick.  The light was so the rare driver could see me, the stick for protection.  I never needed the latter, and as expected there were very few cars out.

That worked well for a number of months, until cold mornings arrived.

It was during this time I started hearing this and that about sleep hygiene – routine bedtime hours, use the bedroom only for sleeping, relaxation/meditation, dark room, etc.

I tried every suggestion I found, and very little worked.  The things that did, didn’t work consistently, or all that well.

In the meantime, I kept hearing about how important sleep is and stressing about how much I wasn’t getting.  Bad cycle, but hard for me to pull out of it.

Dark room – next to impossible to achieve with a lot of ambient light around outside the home.  Room darkening curtains weren’t feasible, and I don’t like them.

Cool the room.  At one point we rented a place where one of the bedrooms was frigid on winter nights.  Diane had been using that room, and after several sleepless nights of her own, Diane begged to swap.  Half the month, I needed pajamas for the first time in a few years.  The other half?  Nope.  Still waking up hot as blazes in the middle of the night.

Domestic Cat.

Keep the pets out of the room.  Has anyone tried that?  If it isn’t one cat howling to be let inside the room, it’s another one who wants to be on whichever side of the door he or she isn’t.

Then I tried an eye mask, instead of the curtains.  Made some progress, though some nights the mask got really warm on my face and I’d end up removing it.  But still, by this point, my sleep had consistently improved.  Some.

One night, some months ago, I experienced some unpleasant GI symptoms and if I was going to get any more sleep, I was going to need to be on my back to be comfortable.  But that had its own challenges, because I was already feeling nauseous.  At the time, I wasn’t using a pillow at all for sleep.  So I went to the sofa and grabbed one of the accent pillows.

I got a little bit more sleep that night.

The surprise came the following night.  Not sure if I’d have any more symptoms, I folded up one of the afghans that was typically on the bed to have it available for my head to rest on and I used it.  Better sleep.  The same thing happened the next night.

So for me, using a pillow again made the most consistent improvement in my sleep!  Go, figure.

I thought the story ended there, and I’ve been holding this post as a possibility for a while.

But, I got another surprise less than a week ago.  On the advice of a colleague, Steph Jackson, I started taking a bifidum-only probiotic supplement at bedtime.  The first night I had the soundest sleep I’d had in several weeks.  Not necessarily MORE sleep, but BETTER sleep.

It happened again the next night.

It’s been happening every night except one, and that’s even with thunderstorms disrupting sleep during the night.

Yeah, what was that about keeping the bedroom quiet?

Bedding.

For more info on serious sleep hygiene, visit here, here or here.

12 comments


  1. Cherie
    July 5, 2016 | 4:48 pm
    Reply

    I can totally relate this is one! Tried just about everything. Right now my husband and I are giving L-tryptophan and Holosync Sleep Suite soundtrack a try. It’s only been about a week, but no luck so far. We’ll give it a little more time. I’m going to try the bifidum probiotic. Like you mentioned, it’s not simply one issue to resolve. Challenging for sure!! Good luck and hopefully sweet dreams soon for all of us!


    • daletchworth
      July 5, 2016 | 6:43 pm
      Reply

      Cherie — I think a LOT of us can relate to this one! Good luck with the L-tryptophan and the Holosync. I remember trying melatonin once, many years back, but nothing. Definitely sending you sweet dreams!


  2. Gayla Thompson
    July 5, 2016 | 7:05 pm
    Reply

    These are great tips on helping us sleep! I also recently added some supplements to my diet, and my sleep improved almost immediately.


    • daletchworth
      July 5, 2016 | 8:00 pm
      Reply

      Gayla — Thank you so much for the feedback. That’s wonderful that the supplements have helped your sleep improve. Whatever works for each of us!


  3. Jace
    July 5, 2016 | 8:33 pm
    Reply

    I’ve been sleeping good, but this is good to know. I like the idea of a probiotic at bedtime.


    • daletchworth
      July 6, 2016 | 8:33 pm
      Reply

      I’m going to keep on with it, at least for now. I’m taking it to help my gut, but if it’s helping me sleep too, I’m good! 🙂


  4. Donna
    July 5, 2016 | 11:12 pm
    Reply

    Like the info. Keeping animals out of bedroom, never. I actually sleep better if my dog is next to me. Even if he is a bed hog.


    • daletchworth
      July 6, 2016 | 8:34 pm
      Reply

      Yeah, one of the cats can be a bed hog from time to time, and he’s not even that big! 🙂 But much better to have them in the room than shut out.


  5. Brad
    July 6, 2016 | 12:20 am
    Reply

    Quite (or quiet) the journey to a restful sleep. Thank you for shedding light (or darkness) on some less known sleep strategies.

    Ironically, I just read about GABA being eaten by bad bacteria in the gut if your gut flora is imbalanced.

    I’ve tried many things. Some work some times, some not for me. Melatonin – I don’t like to take regularly but GABA is a go to and great for other things. With a probiotic before bed, I bet the GABA will work even better.


    • daletchworth
      July 6, 2016 | 8:36 pm
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Brad. It’s been a learning experience. I try to keep the mindset that I’m not going to lose sleep over worrying about how much sleep I’m getting (or not getting). Interesting about the GABA, especially if you’re getting other benefits besides. I know the probiotic is helping my gut anyway, and if better sleep is another result, I’m all for it. It was quite the surprise, though! 🙂


  6. Andrea Caprio
    July 8, 2016 | 5:21 pm
    Reply

    Wow I love that, do you take only this strain or do probiotics also work with multiple strains and bifidum in it?


    • daletchworth
      July 9, 2016 | 12:29 am
      Reply

      This product has six strains of bifidum and no Lactobacillus or any others. I’m already taking a soil-based organism combo in the morning and fermented veggies or Kevita during the day, so this was recommended to me to help with the gut bug diversity. We’ll see, but I’m happy to have the sleep benefit.

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