And, what is fascinating is that, as our community grows, we’re able to see both distinct patterns around what often marks the ‘start’ of the journey (or our realisation of it) as well as the symptoms that persist.
It is this insight that drives our innovation programme. But also our commitment to seeking out the best-supported practices and interventions that we can experiment with ourselves.
So what do we, as a community, struggle with ‘most’?
60% of us will struggle with sleep during menopause. And, at the State-if-the-Science conference way back in 2005, insomnia was described as one of the core 4 symptoms of menopause. And although hormones play a part, Dr Schaedel, co-founder of The Good Sleep Clinic, stresses that our mind and habits often play a bigger part in sleep disruption than we recognise. Although rest in the day and naps can be helpful if you simply can’t function, she advocates sticking to a routine which ensures you build up ‘sleep pressure’ through the day and also one that minimises potential sleep blockers.
Perhaps look to explore the following:
Your relationship with Caffeine!: caffeine blocks our adenosine receptions which can then halt our ‘sleep drive’ and delay our circadian clock. If you need your cup of Joe, or take caffeine for its health benefits, look at the timing of your habit. Can you bring it to earlier in the day?
Commit to a mindfulness month; researchers have found that mindfulness can help us with our ‘washing machine’ minds that often go into tumble-dryer mode when we get into bed, resulting in difficulty at the beginning of the night in actually getting off to sleep. The simple practice of naming ‘thinking’ as a thought rather than inviting it in can help us calm our bodies and achieve rest. Set aside 10 minutes each night. You can opt for a guided meditation, try Yoga Nidra or simply focus on your own breath. Work out what works for you. And if you’re curious, why not consider a 1:1 session with a practitioner who can support you in going deeper?
Consider temperature in bed: hot flashes and temperature changes in the night can disrupt our sleep in midlife. A little-discussed intervention that many in our community have found useful is the purchase of a wool duvet! Inexpensive, wool has the ability to wick heat away from the body as well as keeping you warm.
Ask your doctor about CBT-i: which is a form of CBT focused on insomnia with a good body of research pointing to its efficacy.
Also, check out our journal for tips on herbs and supplementation - and, of course, our two foundational blends, which have been designed with the data you share with us front of mind.
Bloating and weight management:
Did you know that declining sex hormones impact several areas of our gut in menopause? It reduces our digestive capacity, which can lead to reflux. It can lead to an increase in gut permeability, sometimes called leaky gut, which can make us more sensitive to foods we used to eat without issue…And it reduces our gut microbiota diversity and the good bacteria in our gut, which can impact our metabolism as well as our blood sugar balance.
If you’re struggling with gut discomfort or weight management, there are a few simple steps you can take right away:
Add fibre to your plate! In the UK around 80% of us aren’t getting enough fibre. Fibre is a prebiotic which means it feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut. It also helps regulate our bowel movements which is key to healthy hormone metabolism. Aim to ensure you have at least 30g a day. Our wholefood led blends, Peri-Boost and Meno-Boost are both good sources of fibre.
Reduce refined sugars! Refined sugar, ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners have all been linked to negatively impacting our gut microbiota.
Go for ginger! Ginger root has a rich history in traditional medicine. And studies have shown its potential in boosting our digestion. Dr Martins recommends removing the skin with the back of a teaspoon, chopping it into hot water, letting it steep for 10 minutes and then sipping before main meals or in between food.
Research shows that around 40% of us report increased anxiety and feelings of stress during our menopause transition. Anxiety can be exacerbated by both poor sleep and an unsettled gut microbiota. But our hormones play a big part in how we feel too. Cortisol is sometimes painted as a ‘bad’ hormone - but it is also our ‘get up and go’! The problem is that, when our bodies produce too much of it, it has a knock-on effect on other systems and pathways. It also increases blood sugar and insulin resistance, which, you guessed it…impacts our ability to manage weight and to sleep. Because anxiety can have such a significant impact on our menopause transition, we’ve packed a lot of nourishment into our blends. From the Ashwagandha, to the lemon balm, the cacao and the cinnamon…what we put into our system can act as a valuable foundation layer. But it is then important to look at your lifestyle - and how you can gather the tools you need to manage anxiety when you feel it rising.
Many of the protocols we’ve discussed relating to sleep can help here, but consider too:
The growing research around emotional freedom technique or tapping (coming soon in our Meno.Well Masterclass programme!).
Or perhaps restructuring your routine to ensure you can get out in sunlight at the start and the end of the day.
Journalling can also be a powerful way of bringing us out of the worry and back into the world.
Finally, if your body and mind is in need of a little support right now, why not join us on the virtual sofa on Thursday? This month’s Meno.Well Masterclass focuses on sleep and how we can harness our circadian rhythm in midlife. I’ll be talking to Dr Kat Lederle, a sleep scientist specialising in the subject. This one is an open mic too!- so bring your questions! I hope to see you then.
With love Rebekah and the MPowder Team.
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