Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Sleepless in Guelph

I'm having a flash back thanks to Tina, a reader who commented about her sleeplessness.

My menopause blog does not start at the beginning of my menopause. I think, although I can't be absolutely sure, I was entering the staging area of peri-menopause at lease 18 months before I started this process of writing.

My periods were fading but still monthly so I wasn't really paying full attention to the implications. I was grieving a couple of significant losses and struggling to make a living so life was in a bit of a jumble. But I do remember the relentless, day after day, sleepless nights.

After I stopped thrashing about, kicking sheets, swearing, crying and generally having a fit because of my 'over tired' everything, I changed my approach. I'd assumed, it was my god given right to enjoy 8 hours of sleep every night.

Obviously, this was no longer true, cause in reality, it sure as hell wasn't happening.

This observation simply came to me, in an instant. Although I'd slept before, I wasn't sleeping now. No amount of bullying myself was going to change that. For reasons that were invisible to me, my nights were no longer for sawing logs.

My new understanding of the reality I was living, rather than the past I craved helped immensely.

Not to sleep any better or more. But at least to feel less crazed about not sleeping.

At night, I did other things that were soothing for myself. I left my yoga mat out in my spare room floor and would do gentle poses.I bathed with the moon or starlight shining through my bathroom sky light. I hauled a sleeping bag out to my hammock and rocked the night away. Sometimes I intentionally focused on my breathing, trying to make each inhalation reach the bottom of my lungs and allowing each exhalations to clear all the old air out.

I took Rescue Remedy during the day if I felt like I was going to melt down. I tried Valerian, a homeopathic remedy, but not consistently enough to get a good picture. I drank Sleepy Time Tea at bedtime. And if, at any point in the day, opportunity permitted and sleep beckoned, I grabbed a nap like a alcoholic grabs a drink.

In short order, I noticed that when the birds signaled dawn, I was awake but calm. Much better than the stark raving mad woman that would desperately greet the day, agitated, angry and weepy.

When a solid sleep would grace my slumber, you would have thought that I had won a lottery. My neighbour's rejoiced. The post office clerk applauded. Friends cheered me one.

Eventually, after 3 or 4 months, my sleepless in Guelph phase passed. Only later did I learn the association with peri-menopause.

It's been a while since my slumber has been anything but stunning down time. Sleep and I are best buds again.

Sue Richards

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