Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Tales from the other side – To sleep, perchance to dream…

What is it about midlife and menopause than switches off our ability enjoy a decent night’s sleep? I can’t remember the last time I woke up to the alarm, feeling rested and recharged. Lord knows I need it. The circles under my eyes tell a sorry tale of disturbed sleep. I envy both Cost Centres (a.k.a  my kids). Their ability to fall asleep anywhere, not surfacing for a good ten hours is one I’d love to have back again.

It all began when my once-reliable hormones began to fluctuate. Up. Down. Up. Even more UP. Down to almost nothing. Back to normal. And so on. The accompanying hot flushes and night sweats are obvious culprits. I dare anyone to sleep through an inferno followed by generating puddles of sweat! Many a night I woke up to an impromptu puddle at the bottom of my rib cage! I used to keep a small towel by my bed to mop up before anything had the chance to dribble onto the bed sheets. Having mopped up and cooled off, this seemed to trigger my brain into action. It would jump onto the hamster wheel and think about all sorts of random, sometimes scary, crap. Fast-forward to today, and although I’m now post-menopausal, with supposedly level hormones, I still join the ‘sleepless at 3am brigade’ on a regular basis. Blooming annoying.

Photo by Lukas on

It seems that our fluctuating oestrogen levels (or even permanently low levels) are joined by inefficient sleep hormone production. As if hot flushes and night sweats aren’t enough to contend with. This heady cocktail can make it harder to fall asleep, harder to stay asleep and more easily disturbed by noises, lights etc. In the Dean household, Cost centre 2 has a habit of gaming online with a headset on. He forgets how loud his voice is, particularly when he laughs. Once I’m shaken awake by his victory yells it’s almost impossible to fall asleep again with all that adrenaline running riot, not to mention the flushes that accompany such a rude awakening. I love him to bits but there are times when I’d cheerfully throw the broadband router out the window!!

Stress and/or anxiety are obvious causes for sleep disturbance (amongst other things). Given the above situation with noisy kids, plus my own parents’ health issues praying on my mind, coupled with added health anxiety, it’s a great recipe for ensuring I’m awake to appreciate our local population of owls hooting at each other!

Photo by Skitterphoto on

I’m certain our obsession with communications technology is unhealthy. We humans were never meant to be available 24/7. Not so long ago, winding down from the day involved a little tv, maybe a book (a real one) and then bed. Now humans seem incapable of staying off their gadgets, checking emails and social media from what used to be the quiet of the bedroom.

This is by no means a complete list. Nor does it constitute medical advice. It is simply a random list of things I’ve tried with varying success. If you are worried about your sleep, use your common sense and see a qualified healthcare professional.

Cath’s list of sleep aids.

  1. No caffeine after lunchtime – women take longer to break down caffeine than men.
  2. Limit food intake three hours before you go to bed to allow yours stomach time to digest its meal and empty itself. Late eating often leads to a spot of heartburn… that’s going to keep anyone wide awake.
  3. Get moving. Daily exercise of some form helps reduce stress levels. Just don’t have a cardio workout close to bedtime. Swap it for some chillout yoga session instead.
  4. Make sure you get the best mattress you can. After all, you spend a third of your life asleep so be as comfortable as possible
  5. Sleep in a dark room. If this isn’t possible, invest in a good sleep mask. And while we’re on the subject of light, or limiting it, no sneaky looks at your phone/tablet at least an hour before bed. Even with night mode enabled, those things are still stimulating your mind.
  6. Mindfulness – ten minutes of undisturbed calmness, focussing on just your breath, in and out, calms the brain. You can do this anywhere. I make it part of my get ready for bed routine
  7. Keep your bedroom uncluttered and tidy… a calm feeling in the bedroom goes a long way to helping you unwind
  8. Aromatherapy – lavender oil is a big favourite for invoking a calm atmosphere. Here’s my recipe for a room/bedding spray. You will need:
  9. A clean spray bottle (holds at least 30ml)
    • 30ml water
    • 5 drops clary sage
    • 5 drops frankincense
    • 5 drop geranium

Mix well and spray your room and bedding for a soothing aroma.

What do you do to ensure a decent night’s sleep? Share your top tips in the comments section.

Have a fab Friday my lovely readers xx

Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Tales from the other side – Skin

Related to hair and nails health , skin health can also be affected by loss of oestrogen production. As you can see from previous posts, the list of areas of the body where oestrogen plays a significant role is much longer than expected. No wonder going through the change is such a trying time for some of us!

Collagen production drops as oestrogen drops, resulting in loss of elasticity, dryness, thinning, spots, wrinkles etc. Why, after surviving the teenage spotty years, does Mother Nature see fit to plague us meno-travellers with spots! Like we don’t already have enough on our plates to cope with? And I daren’t frown about dotty skin in case I make the brow furrows even deeper! It’s infuriating.

Even simple things like eyebrow trimming are no longer fun. I need to use the magnifying mirror to see what I’m doing. This is fine until your gaze wanders elsewhere. Everything is brought into sharp, large focus. The smallest blemish is now mountainous. And as for facial hair! Wow. How long do some of those suckers grow?!

Given that permanent hair removal is out of my budget, as are most other major facial treatments designed to return our skin to youthful appearances, what can you do on a budget?

  1. Wear sunscreen – I use moisturisers and foundation creams with built-in sunscreen. It helps reduce any pre-existing age-spots (I wish they had a nicer name!) and prevents more of the little blighters popping up.
  2. Cleansing – use something mild and gentle. No soap – if you don’t have dry skin yet, you soon will have with soap.
  3. Toning – yes, I still tone after cleansing. I found a wonderful facial spritz that does the trick without being harsh. You can make your own with lavender water.
  4. Moisturise – daily application after bathing and as often as you feel you need it. Over the years I’ve used Nivea but now my body skin seems to prefer Aveno. Buy small quantities to see which one suits you best and be prepared to change as your skin changes.
    • Facial oils. I used to buy facial oils but after doing a course on aromatherapy at the beginning of this year, I make my own. I also make oils for Mr D and for Cost Center 1’s partner who has a touch of eczema. Both chaps have lovely glowing skin. I’ll share my recipe at the bottom of this post.
    •  Moisturiser – find one with a good SPF… about factor 30 is great. Retinols and peptides can help with wrinkles and sags.
    • Eye area – I’ve tried creams and gels and find the gels more easily absorbed and easier to apply make-up over.

Here comes the common sense advice. If any spot, mole or blemish is giving you cause for concern, get it checked out by a specialist. It may be nothing sinister but there’s nothing so calming as peace of mind.

As promised, here’s my recipe for the facial oil I use – just a couple of drops on the fingertips lightly brushed over your face morning and night, under your chosen moisturiser. It gives your skin an extra boost and you smell gorgeous too!


Blue or brown glass bottle with dropper screw top (Amazon have a variety you can buy)

30ml base oil… I use jojoba or almond oil

2 drops Frankincense – relaxing scent and great for skincare

2 drops sandalwood – one of my favourites. It’s relaxing and softens skin

1 drop rose – a balancing scent which nourishes skin


Sterilize the small bottle and its dropper either by heat or sterilizing fluid

Once cool, add the base oil and carefully add the essential oils. It is important to ensure you use the correct dilution on facial skin… no more than 6 drops in total per 30 ml. If you have delicate skin, use fewer drops per 30 ml.

Wishing you all a chilled weekend. For those of you in the US, I hope you enjoyed a peaceful fun Thanksgiving.