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Menopause and waking early

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:16 pm
by Penelope Pitstop
I am just over 50 years of age and presume I am now going into the menopause. I find I wake up now very early in the morning and immediately feel very anxious for what appears to be no reason. I have never had this before – is there anything I can do to stop this or do I just have to stick it out, as I don’t want to go on HRT.

Re: Menopause and waking early

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:28 pm
by Fran McElwaine
Sometimes, if we feel anxious for no obvious reason, it is because there may be some underlying physical cause, which can often be related to our hormones.

One of our hormones helps to regulate our energy levels during the day, and that is Cortisol. It is necessary for cortisol levels to rise in the mornings because that is what wakes us up and helps us get ready for the day. But if cortisol starts rising too early or too fast, we can wake up feeling anxious. Cortisol is also associated with stress because levels are high when we experience long and sustained levels of low grade, chronic stress - the sort that we all know about!

Before we think about HRT, it may be worth looking into a couple of simple things that may well make a big difference for you.

One of the things that can cause cortisol levels to become elevated might be to do with diet. It is worth trying to cut down on sugary and starchy foods and eating more protein (from meat, chicken, eggs fish and beans) and lots of vegetables to help keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel. If our body is used to lots of spikes in blood sugar during the day, blood sugar levels can drop too low over night (when we are not eating). To compensate for the low blood sugar, the body produces a shot of adrenaline to help manage things. This would definitely wake you up.

Eating your last meal at least three hours before you go to bed is also something you may want to consider. This gives your blood sugar time to regulate before you go to sleep.

You may also want to consider having a really gentle and calming ritual before you go to bed so you are relaxed as you go to sleep. Watching television or answering emails just before we go to sleep can also disrupt our natural cortisol levels, so instead try having a long bath, or maybe doing a few gentle stretches before bedtime, to help your body wind-down.

Sending very best wishes