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Yoga: A Remedy for Sleep During Perimenopause

Updated: Jul 10

Perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause, can be a time of significant change. Hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings are just a few of the unwelcome guests that might show up at your door. But one of the most disruptive changes, and often the one that exacerbates others, is sleep disturbances.

Why Does Sleep Get Wonky in Perimenopause?

There are a couple of main culprits behind sleep troubles during perimenopause:

• Fluctuating Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone play a big role in regulating sleep. As their levels dip and dive during perimenopause, your sleep cycle can get thrown off balance. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and experiencing less restorative deep sleep.

• Stress: The hormonal changes themselves can be stressful, and hot flushes can wake you up in the night, further adding to your stress levels. It becomes a vicious cycle. Anxiety and irritability, also common during perimenopause, can further disrupt your ability to relax and fall asleep.

Yoga to the Rescue!

Here's the good news: yoga can be a powerful tool for improving sleep in perimenopausal women. Here's how:

• Stress Reduction: Yoga poses (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation all work together to calm your mind and body, promoting relaxation and reducing stress hormones. Yoga helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the "rest and digest" system, which counteracts the fight-or-flight response triggered by stress.

• Improved Sleep Quality: Yoga can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake up feeling more refreshed. Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation technique, is particularly effective at inducing a state of deep relaxation that promotes better sleep.

• Symptom Relief: Some yoga poses can even help alleviate hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms that disrupt sleep. Certain gentle forward bends and supported postures can help regulate body temperature and ease discomfort.

Tips for a Yoga-Powered Sleep Routine:

• Focus on Restorative Poses: These poses are held for longer periods (around 5-10 minutes) with the support of props like bolsters, blankets, and blocks. They promote deep relaxation and prepare your body for sleep. Supported Bridge Pose, Legs Up the Wall, and Reclined Butterfly are all excellent choices for a bedtime practice.

Practice Gentle Forward Bends: Forward bends can help calm the nervous system and relieve anxiety. Child's Pose and Seated Forward Fold are great options to incorporate into your bedtime routine.

End with Yoga Nidra: As mentioned earlier, Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation technique that induces a state of deep relaxation that promotes better sleep. Many free guided Yoga Nidra recordings are available online or through yoga apps.

Practice Regularly: Consistency is key! Aim for a few short yoga sessions throughout the week, or a longer practice (20-30 minutes) before bed. Even a short 10-minute practice before bed can make a big difference in your sleep quality.

Additional Considerations:

• Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment: Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains and a comfortable mattress.

• Develop a Calming Nighttime Routine: Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that signals to your body it's time to wind down. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing gentle yoga poses.

• Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening, and limit alcohol consumption, especially close to bedtime.

• Listen to Your Body: If you're not falling asleep within 20 minutes of getting into bed, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Don't lie in bed awake and frustrated.

Remember, consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.

By incorporating yoga into your routine, along with other healthy sleep habits, you can find much-needed relief from sleep disturbances during perimenopause and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. So, roll out your mat, take a deep breath, and let yoga guide you to a better night's sleep!

Want to dive deeper and learn more about your own sleep issues and how Yoga, Breath and Mindfulness can help? Enrol on my new 6-Week online self-paced course : From Restless to Rested.

Or you can try one of my Yoga for Sleep videos over on my YouTube channel.

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