night sweats, insomnia, & hormones, oh my: perimenopause & sleep

We had a chat with Lou Archell about her experience with the perimenopause, and the changes she’s made to get better sleep.

night sweats, insomnia, & hormones, oh my: *perimenopause* & sleep

Is the perimenopause stopping you from getting the zZzs you need to properly take on the day? It certainly did for Lou Archell, writer, photographer and founder of the blog Littlegreenshed. We spoke to her about her perimenopause symptoms and what she’s done to improve her sleep.

what was your sleep like before the perimenopause?

I didn’t have a sleep routine. As I was raising kids, I suppose sleep always took second place. Being woken up by them in the middle of the night was just something I got used to. 

Before the kids, I didn’t even think about a routine. I just flopped straight into bed and fell asleep. Now I know that the power of good sleep is everything. 

when did you start getting perimenopause symptoms?

Looking back, they probably started in my early 40s, but really came to a head when I was 46. That was when my symptoms became so strong it was hard to ignore.

did the perimenopause symptoms affect your sleep?

It affected my sleep hugely. I would often wake up with night sweats with my pillow, bedding and pyjamas completely soaked through, and my duvet was always flung off. I was somehow freezing cold yet so hot all the time. 

I was also suffering with insomnia. I couldn’t get to sleep, and if I did manage to drop off my sleep was very broken and I would wake up at all hours. 

how did this lack of sleep affect you?

It would impact my entire day. I was so groggy and unable to wake up properly. I relied on coffee to kick start my day and had mood swings, depression, lethargy and just no desire to do anything. 

I knew I couldn’t continue like that. It’s just not how life should be. 

what changes did you make to get better sleep?

My sleeping environment is hugely important to my sleep. For my bed, I’ve ditched heavy bed linen as it was far too hot, and I now use brushed cotton because it’s soft and light. I have the eve warm:cool duvet, so I can sleep with the cooler, lower tog side and my husband can have the warmer, higher tog. eve’s temperature balancing mattress protectorand the temperature balancing pillow protector have been wonderful at keeping me cool, too. 

To keep cool air circulating, the window is always open a crack, and I put the fan on if the weather is particularly warm. I also sleep with ear plugs as I’m such a light sleeper now.

do you take any supplements?

I always take chelated magnesium. - I love it so much, I can’t recommend it more. I also have oral progesterone (HRT). 

what does your bedtime routine look like now?

This is what I do every evening before bed:

  • Drink water.
  • Take chelated magnesium, oral progesterone (HRT) and an antihistamine (scratching and irritation at night is a symptom of the perimenopause). 
  • Do my skincare routine and brush my teeth. 
  • Check the bedroom window is open. 
  • Read a book. 
  • Meditate.
  • Sleep (hopefully!).

and how's your sleep now?

It’s better. But I’d love to get more sleep, and get better at turning the light out before 11 pm. 

do you wake up in the middle of the night? 

Yes, quite often. I tend to deal with it by going to the toilet, even if I don’t need to go. It seems to reset me back to sleep somehow. Weird but true. 

got any tips for women struggling to sleep during the perimenopause?

Definitely reach out to your local menopause nurse or clinic. They’ll offer great tips on HRT, supplements and changes to your diet. Never suffer in silence. Read up on everything. 

I highly recommend the app Balance, Menopause Support by Dr Louise Newsom. Plus the book ‘The Hormone Repair Manual’ by Dr Lara Briden is fantastic.