Not sure if it's the times we are living in or my age that’s getting to me, but I certainly have not been sleeping my best this past year. I am a light sleeper, I have been ever since having kids. This past year has been rough! I love sleep, always have and when I don’t get enough of it, I’m a totally different person. I get grumpy, I get overwhelmed very easily and I just can’t get anything done. Once I get a good night sleep though, look out! I’m ready to go! So I’m sure you can imagine or perhaps even relate to how a poor night sleep can cramp your style. Then tag a few nights in a row of poor sleep together and it gets down right messy.
Well that’s been me this year. Ugggh it’s been rough! I have tried multiple different sleep supplements, which would seem to help but only for a short time.
So last month I pulled the plug and decided to take my own advice and
test … don’t guess! Which is pretty ironic considering how many clients and customers I have told that to over the years.
But I did, I got a DUTCH test done.
The DUTCH test is an advanced hormone test that offers insights on sex hormones, adrenal hormones and melatonin.
I’m edging my way towards 40, and here’s the thing perimenopause is the time of hormonal anarchy that happens before your final menstrual period, menopause. So many people refer to this period of time as menopause, but in fact you are in menopause only once it has been 1 year since your last period. So it’s the years of discomfort leading up to that, perimenopause, that can drive women crazy. Hormones are shifting and changing causing all sorts of issues. Perimenopause begins with progesterone levels dropping then ends with the dropping of estrogen levels. This can begin as early as your mid thirties! For some women this is when they notice their mood is unpredictable, notice weight gain, and lower energy amongst many other symptoms.
So am I in perimenopause?
Nope, not yet… my test showed my sex hormones are still relatively balanced. Guess what though... there's something else that messes with your hormones? Stress! Yep, that bitch! My unpredictable moods, little been of weight gain (especially around my mid line) and energy dips, wasn’t related to sex hormone anarchy, it was related to my cortisol levels being too high later in the day, which can cause the exact same symptoms!
High cortisol can mess with your feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. (Which is why your MD may try to prescribe you an antidepressant rather than actually look at hormones)
Cortisol can accelerate aging, it raises your blood sugar levels (think weight gain and prediabetes, yikes!)
Also high cortisol over extended time constricts blood flow to the brain and accelerates age related brain function (women are more prone to dementia and alzheimers than men- could stress by the culprit, absolutely! Women try to do it, and do it all perfectly and our health suffers!)
It is common for women around 35 to have low cortisol during the day and then high cortisol at night making it hard to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. In order to balance cortisol levels we have to manage stress!
So what am I doing about it?
No more coffee (I am still drinking decaf though)
Massage monthly… this has been closer to every 6 weeks but way better than it was.
Meditating with heartmath device daily
Vitamin B complex
Changing my workouts from evening to morning instead.
But the biggest difference I have noticed was starting Phosphatidylserine 400mg nightly. This actually helps me sleep the whole night!! I’m halfway through my second bottle and I am loving it!
A few other things I could start doing regularly are:
Practice forgiveness - I’m trying but this has been a hard one for me.
Orgasms- crazy story early 1900s stroking the clitoris was once used as a medical therapy for women with hysteria. After the 1930s “medical massage” was replaced with psychotherapy. But here’s the thing orgasm=oxytocin. Oxytocin lowers cortisol!
L-theanine - reduces anxiety and anxiety is a stress response.
How's your stress response?
If it could use some TLC, consider this?
When cortisol levels are balanced you feel positive and upbeat, you eat every 4-6 hours without feeling "hangry", you feel like everything is figure-out-able, you sleep well at night and wake up feeling refreshed, your blood pressure is good, your blood sugar levels are balanced, when something bugs you you can take a big belly breathe and respond instead of react and you are capable of calming yourself quickly and you have good coping strategies already in place like, exercise, mindfulness and a women's circle or tight group of besties.
So if I didn't just describe you, perhaps try on some of the strategies above to help you manage your stress and sleep better at night!