Why sleep is sooo important for 40 and 50+ Women


Do you regularly wake up early and can’t get back to sleep?

Are you just longing for a GOOD nights sleep so you can actually do something productive during the day?

Sleep is SO important for us when we reach our 40’s and 50’s, here’s why:

  • Your body repairs itself at night. If you are not sleeping you will gain weight, be moody and increase your risk for all sorts of chronic diseases. Researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from 7 to 5 hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

And cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of post-menopausal women.

  • Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep interrupts these processes. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.
    Various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.
  • Lack of sleep makes you fat. Grehlin and leptin are the hormones that tell your brain if you’re hungry or full. Sleep deprivation has been shown to completely disrupt the way these work. Also, cortisol levels go down when we are asleep (it’s part of the repair process). If they are high at night, your body thinks it’s under stress and hangs onto fat. All of this leads to insulin resistance.
  • During and beyond menopause the body is compromised due to the changing and declining hormones.  This can effect our sleep patterns and effect the quality of our sleep.

What can we do?:

  1. Beware of caffeine. We all love caffeine; it is the world’s favorite drug. Depending on your genetics, it has a half-life of around 8 hours. There are some people who have very low tolerance for caffeine and should avoid it altogether, and other very rare people who allegedly can have a coffee before bed and sleep soundly. For most of us, noon is a good cutoff for our favorite beverage.
  2. Beware of alcohol. Initially it may be relaxing, but even small amounts of alcohol may cause a re-bound effect which can lead to waking up in the middle of the night. Night caps are so 1960.
  3. Create a sleep ramp to take you from your active day to a restful sleep. Our brains do not come wired with an instant off switch, so we need to slowly ramp down. For most people, this is a 2 or 3 hour process. Sure, we can try doing highly mentally engaging work right up until brushing our teeth pre-sleep; however, there is a very good chance we either won’t be able to fall asleep or we will wake up in the middle of the night with a very active brain. Let’s create a nightly routine to let go of the day, and to leave its problems and issues until tomorrow. We will be able to attend to them much more effectively if we are fresh. Let’s wind it down: read some fiction, take a bath, go for a walk, listen to music, go out to dinner, watch a movie. You will know what works for you.


Are you a nocturnal urinator?

What do your pre-bed/sleep habits have to do with the pelvic floor?  As a pelvic floor pilates teacher, I teach that it is not a healthy sign if you have to get up to pee in the middle of the night. When a client reports that they do get up once, twice, three times per night to go pee I will discuss things like bladder irritants, hydration intake before bed and teach habits to “retrain” the bladder. These things are all very important to continue working on but there’s another aspect to why we shouldn’t be getting up in the middle of the night to pee; it’s a sign that we are not reaching the very important REM (rapid eye movement) cycle! 

A lot of great things happen in our body during REM. It is a very important stage of sleep that influences learning, memory and mood. It is also one of the times when antidiuretic hormone (ADH) is released. ADH’s most important role is to conserve the fluid volume of your body by reducing the amount of water that is passed out through the urine. When fluid needs to be conserved and not expelled, ADH secretion increases and we urinate less. When we are properly hydrated, ADH secretion decreases and we urinate at the normal amount (every 2-3 hours and the flow should be strong for 8-12 seconds).

ADH plays an important role in hydration but it also plays a huge role in our ability to sleep through the night! A well-hydrated adult should need to urinate every 2-3 hours. So, how are we supposed to be able to sleep 8+ hours straight without urinating? ADH! When we fall into REM sleep, ADH release is increased which decreases the amount of urine that is produced, we do not have to pee as much and, voila! We are able to sleep without peeing!


During and after menopause, the ADH, which is a hormone is also affected, so we do tend to see ladies going for a wee more often at night.

Healthy Sleep Habit suggestions:

  1. Set a consistent sleep schedule – go to bed at roughly the same time each night.

  2. Have regular bedtime rituals – take a bath, listen to music, meditate. These should be relaxing activities and so that you cue your body that it is time to go to sleep.

  3. Get regular exercise but make sure it is at least 2 hours before bedtime.

  4. Limit caffeine and avoid nicotine – these are stimulants and will interfere with your sleep. Try to stop caffeine intake after 12. Withdrawal from nicotine will initially interfere with sleep. However, once you are past the withdrawal phase, you should be able to sleep better (studies show).

  5. Don’t eat a meal right before bed. Try to eat dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed has been shown to promote sleep however.

  6. Avoid alcohol – although alcohol is a sedative and initially promotes sleep, it will interfere with the quality of sleep; you will wake more often and might have increased nightmares.

  7. Keep naps short to increase your “sleep debt” during the day to help you fall asleep easier.

  8. Use your bedroom for sleep only! Try not to eat, watch TV or use other electronics in bed. You want to associate your bedroom with sleep and not other things that might trigger stress.

  9. Stop screen time 2 hours before bed – using screens (TV, cell phones, tablets, laptops) can damage our biological clock. The light emitted “confuses” our brain and makes us think its daytime.

  10. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet and comfortable!

Sleep – Why It’s SOOO important now we are over 40.

Is feel refreshed in the morning something you have not felt in some time?

Do you regularly wake up early and can’t get back to sleep?

Are you just longing for a GOOD nights sleep so you can actually do something productive during the day?

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