Melissa Ratliff, MD, with Natural Strategies for Managing MenopauseMay 01, 2023 01:26PM ● By Melissa H. Ratliff, MD
It’s 2 o’clock in the morning. You wake up drenched in sweat and wide awake. No memory of any scary dream. Just soaking wet. You throw the covers off and get up to go to the bathroom. Upon return to bed you are faced with a decision: change the sheets and your pajamas or just climb back in bed and go to sleep. You know if you change the sheets and your clothes, you’ll never go back to sleep. You know that song and dance.
So how about this? You take off the pajama pants and climb back in bed and fall asleep. You quiet your mind with some slow breathing exercises and before you know, you are back to sleep.
Guess what you just did: MINDSET CHANGE!
One of the biggest things that is helping me through this perimenopausal change is embracing it. Yes, that is what I said. This is just the next phase in my health journey. I am still fully a woman even though my body is aging. I no longer fight the night sweats, hot flashes, or sexual changes. I now look at myself as a sexy, vibrant, older woman who is aging gracefully.
Changing your mindset is just the first step to mitigating these hormonal changes. Let’s discuss a few others:
- Diet: Follow a whole foods diet, mostly plants. Get 5-7 servings of vegetables a day. This can mean having them for breakfast! A baked sweet potato is my favorite. One secret I’ll share that helped my night sweats is flax seeds. Try to get 1-2 tablespoons a day. They have to be ground for the body to process. I recommend getting a ceramic sesame seed grinder and keeping it on the table. I use flax seeds on salads, oatmeal, quinoa, soups, vegetables, and more.
- Exercise: Try to get 150 minutes a week of moderately strenuous exercise. Vigorous exercise can make symptoms worse. Start slowly if you are not already exercising. Start with 5-10 minutes and then add one minute a day as tolerated. Walking is a great and cheap option. Discuss this with your doctor.
- Sleep Hygiene: Avoid caffeine after noon and avoid high glycemic index foods and difficult-to-digest foods as bedtime snacks. Choose complex carbs instead to help release tryptophan to help w sleep. Sleep 7-8 hours per night and do not take long naps during the day. Keep a regular bedtime and wake schedule. Use prayer and meditation or other mind-body techniques to help fall asleep. Consider letting go of “trying to fall asleep” and think of it as “surrendering to sleep.” Do not watch television in the bedroom; the bed is for sex and sleep only. Do not use computers or other technological devices 1-2 hours before bedtime.
Stress management, nutritional supplements, and botanicals can also help with menopausal symptoms.
So there you have it: You CAN work to optimize your health from a holistic approach. I challenge you to work through the steps above. Also talk further with your physician about how things like stress management, nutritional supplements, and botanicals can help.
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