Insomnia and Menopause – what’s the connection?

by November 11, 2020
Sleep is often stolen from us as we age…
Why is it hard to sleep as we get older?

Yes, it is true that we may not need as much sleep as we get older, but many women report that the amount of sleep they get is often disturbed during menopause and beyond.  Disruption in our sleep patterns can affect our daily living, so getting enough shut eye is important for us all, especially as we get older.  It can be annoying to be stuck in a cycle of poor sleeping patterns, but there are some things you can do to help you achieve a good nights sleep. The transition into our later years should be an enjoyable one and poor sleep ain’t no fun…it is a time when our collective life experiences culminate into some great wisdom just waiting to be shared with others, so I hope this article can help you get back on track.

According to a study, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
17% of perimenopausal women after menopause report trouble with falling asleep
36% of women after menopause have trouble sleeping through the night
56% of perimenopausal women report getting less than 7 hours of restful sleep a night
40% of post menopausal women report getting less than 7 hours of restful sleep a night
Sleep and menopause – what’s going on?

I treat a lot of women who are going through menopause and even those many years after who have a lot of challenges with their sleep. Whether it’s night sweats, bathroom breaks that get you up in the night, just waking up for no reason or waking really early, insomnia during and after menopause is a real health issue for women all over the world.

When we get older our body’s physiology changes and our ovaries no longer make the same amount of hormones (especially estrogen) as before and that decrease may be part of the reason why we experience all of these uncomfortable symptoms, including anxiety, mood disorders and sleep disruption.  Like I said above, it’s not just those going through menopause who suffer from lack of good sleep, I have spoken to many women in their late 60’s and late 70’s that still continue to feel the brunt of poor sleep each day. 

How can you improve your sleep quality?
Here are some tips…
  • Set up a good sleep habit at night – go to bed at the same time at night
  • Try using some essential oils to relax and calm your mind – lavender and chamomile have been known to have relaxing properties
  • Turn off or put away technology earlier at night to reduce your exposure to blue light and read a book…I even took up knitting at night to help get me out of my head by focusing on my hands
  • Try sleeping with a sleep mask – I added this for myself about a year ago
  • Don’t drink too much water late at night to avoid getting up in the night to use the washroom
  • Try listening to some guided meditation – there are many like headspace that may help you relax at night
  • Book an appointment with your acupuncture therapist for some treatment – we can treat insomnia and symptoms of menopause very well
Sleep from an eastern perspective

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), we may experience disturbed sleep at any age and for many different reasons.  Insomnia during menopause and beyond is, unfortunately, a common occurrence for a lot of women. Menopause symptoms, such as sweating and hot flashes, often wake us from sleep or prevents us from falling back to sleep easily. Western doctors concluded that there is a connection to lack of sleep and the loss of estrogen, while eastern doctors look at insomnia during menopause as a slowing down and decline of our Kidney energy, essence, a decline of blood, our qi and yin.

How can you support your body as you get older with good dietary choices? More on that to come!

TCM treats symptoms that disturb our sleep using acupuncture, dietary therapy and herbal medicine.  Each person is treated and diagnosed individually, as everyone experiences poor sleep due to a differentiating number of imbalances. If you are yin deficient you may experience insomnia, hair loss, dryness, tinnitus, hot flashes, night sweats and weakness in the low back and knees.  If you are blood deficient, you may also be feeling dizziness and memory loss as well as some of the other common symptoms listed above. When things get stagnated, you will feel irritable, nervous or emotional which can lead to insomnia.  A yang deficient person will feel cold in their hands and feet, have loose stool, a pale complexion and weak or sore low back and knees. Once our essence declines, our bone density decreases which is directly related to osteoporosis. Symptoms are often compounded from overwork, unmanaged stress, smoking, eat poorly or choosing a poor lifestyle.

What strategies can you use to get a better sleep?

Dr. Marcin shares some simple sleep tips from her article on Healthline…

  • Eat well and exercise – avoid eating late, sugary or processed foods and exercise regularly
  • Wear loose clothes to bed and use cotton sheets – natural fibres help the body to breathe
  • Keep a cool room – this might help you feel more comfortable when you begin to feel hot
  • Avoid eating spicy food – this can make you feel hotter and sweat more
  • Avoid nicotine, alcohol and caffeine
  • MANAGE STRESS!
So take the time to work on things in your life that will help you get the sleep that you need – seek help if you need it.

HAPPY SLEEPING!

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health, educating others about the importance of self care and seeking help from professional practitioners when needed. 

Taking Care of Our Lungs During the Fall Season

by October 8, 2020

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), fall is connected to the lungs and is at its height of activity during the season. The lungs are associated with emotions such as sadness and grief as well as the metal element. The lungs are partnered with the large intestines and both are responsible for getting rid of toxic byproducts made within the body.

Our respiration provides the body with valuable qi and helps energy circulate around the body nourishing our protective wei qi, our skin, tissues, organs, vessels etc..  The lungs are nourished by its ‘mother’ the spleen/stomach and together they provide valuable nutrition for our body.

Our lungs are tied in with our immune system (from an eastern and western medicine perspective) and right now keeping our immunity strong is probably the biggest thing on all of our minds these days. Taking a deep breath helps reduce tension and stress, it relaxes the nervous system and calms our mind.

How can you strengthen your immunity?

According to TCM (traditional Chinese medicine)

  • Focus on deep breathing to calm the mind and nervous system
  • Take deep, slow, long breaths – taking in good air and expelling the old
  • Enjoy whole foods that support the colon (root vegetables provide lots of fiber)
  • Pears, apples, persimmons, figs, pumpkins, nuts and seeds are thought to nourish the lungs
  • Get plenty of sleep and reduce stress
  • Avoid sugary/processed foods
  • Eat for the season – cooked root vegetables, grains, and warming soups
  • Cover your neck with a scarf to avoid the wind

There is a real shift in the environment around us during the fall…the leaves change colour and drop, animals gather and bury their food, the days get cooler, it gets darker earlier and warm sweaters, mitts and hats come out. It is the season when we begin to harvest lots of great root vegetables and start to prepare for the winter to follow. It is thought to be a time when we should still our hearts and minds then gather and collect the spirit and the qi within us. Think of your body like that of a tree…it draws in valuable energy to store for the winter and it lets go of what it doesn’t need (its leaves).

Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.


Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

Watch a simple video that may help improve your immune system!

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. Her training in eastern dietary therapy gives her a larger view about the affect foods can have on our body and overall wellness.

Strengthen your immunity

by October 1, 2020

Our immune system is responsible for keeping us healthy and strong, fighting germs, toxins, fungi and viruses using a complex collection of special blood cells along with a variety of organs in our body.

If our body is unable to produce these special antibodies or the organs charged with supporting our immunity are weak, we may find ourselves susceptible to a variety of infections or diseases.

Eating specific foods and having good life habits can help.

Here’s 5 simple ways to strengthen your immunity:
  • Consume Probiotic-rich Fermented Foods and Beverages
  • Healthy Whole Foods/Less Sugar
  • Get Plenty of Sleep and Reduce Stress
  • Support Your Body’s Natural Detoxification Systems
  • Vitamin D

Probiotic foods:

The best way to boost your immunity is to introduce fermented foods into your diet. The probiotics (healthy or beneficial bacteria) found in these foods are far more effective than any supplement. Stock up on naturally-fermented or cultured fruits and vegetables (sauerkraut, chutneys, kimchi, kale, carrots), drinks (kombucha, lassi), dairy (kefir, yogurt, sour cream) and more (unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, miso). Just 2 oz. per day is all you need to boost immunity.

Whole Foods/Less sugar:

Super natural immunity begins with the bounty of nature (whole or unprocessed). First choice should always be what’s fresh, local and seasonal. Get cooking with quality Unrefined fats (i.e. virgin coconut oil, organic butter or cold-pressed olive oil) and try to limit refined white sugar, which has been shown to suppress our immune system.

More Sleep/Less stress:

A good night’s sleep allows our body to regenerate and rejuvenate. Stress can tax our adrenals, which can lead to weight gain, anxiety, insomnia or fatigue. When the nervous system is calm and relaxed it can create valuable energy, manage stress and help to support the body when fighting an infection.

Natural Detox:

There are many benefits to cleansing toxins or pathogens naturally. Include filtered water with lemon, chlorophyll-rich foods (dark leafy greens, seaweeds & green herbs), berries (especially blueberries, elderberry), fresh ginger and turmeric. Deep breaths throughout your day can also help the lungs naturally detoxify and relax tense, stressed muscles.

Vitamin D:

Vitamin D has been seen to influence immunity and may be best taken in a supplement form in conjunction with food sources such as organic butter, eggs & wild fish.

Here are more articles that offer
great information to support our immunity…

lemon garlic
mask
fruit

How to boost your immune system

This article from Harvard talks about some more specific medical information about our immunity.  To read more click here.

Strengthen Your immune system

The Cleveland Clinic talks about some similar ways to strengthen your immune system.  To read more click here.

Strengthen your immunity with food

This article from CNN offers more dietary recommendations that have been shown to improve our immune system.  To read more click here.

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health. She is very passionate about educating others on the variety of ways we can support our body’s health. 

Our body changes as it ages…and so does our image of it

by September 27, 2020

Recently I turned 50 and I was asked how it felt? Well first of all I can’t believe how time flies, but overall I told people that I didn’t feel any different than I did 20 years ago…but that wasn’t really true. My body is NOT what it was when I was younger…my hair is a bit thinner and greyer; I am in menopause now, my vision has decreased (now I have to wear readers), sometimes I feel a bit stiff waking up and my waistline isn’t quite the same as it was. My body looks pretty much the same (and even weighs the same), but it has definitely changed, in shape and function.

When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean. But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larger and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful. You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life.


Thich Nhat Hanh

Looking back my body was already undergoing changes, I just never really acknowledged them outloud, until now.  At first glance my introspective self reflected a body that wasn’t quite as sharp and trim and it was carrying weight in places it never did before…how did that happen? I eat really well, workout regularly, get pretty good sleep and work on reducing stress in my life…but my body now FEELS different then it did before.

Initially I looked at my body through the eyes of my younger self, not the person that has now lived half a century. So maybe my waistline isn’t what it used to be, but that’s ok, I still feel strong, mobile and flexible.

If our mind is trained, His Holiness continued, physical suffering that comes with old age won’t disturb us much. He suggested that we should have the determination and motivation to develop love and compassion. We need to be equipped with internal skills, to develop internal resources. Otherwise, if we are used to looking for pleasure in the sensorial world, when we grow old and lose our ability to perceive sights, sounds and smells, it becomes difficult.


Dalai Lama

Looking at what’s in front of me instead of behind I can begin to see what I am capable of…not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I think that this can only come with time lived. This is what inspires me to want to be better everyday, connect and share with others and continue to learn and grow.  I have also been inspired by all of the amazing women ahead of me and started a new membership site I call MY FIT OVER 50 My goal is to bring our community together, empowering other women, supporting, sharing, laughing and talking about our journey together.

I will continue to explore the nuances of my body, to challenge it in a safe, efficient and effective way as I continue to age. I am working smartly in a way that provides my body with longevity, by thinking about why and how I can take care of it. I am making a conscious effort to bring my body and mind together, to accept that changes do happen as we age (some of which we have no control over), but if we listen to what our body needs we can adapt to its needs and push it in a healthy way.

My body image has changed and the wiser part of me now sees that I’m now at the starting point of my life, not the end one. I see that aging is more than just a number, it is a complex evolution of the human body.

About the Author

Cindy is a registered holistic nutritionist and a foodie. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health. Her training in eastern dietary therapy as an acupuncturist also gives her a larger view about the affect foods can have on our body and overall wellness.

Is your home full of toxins?

by August 20, 2019

Most of the toxic chemicals we are exposed to daily can wreak havoc on all of our physiological systems (including respiratory, reproduction, nervous, endocrine, circulatory etc.) which can then affect our body’s ability to stay healthy and strong. Many of the major chemicals found in conventional toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent and air fresheners have been found to be carcinogenic or estrogenic in nature and may play a large role in the development of many illnesses and diseases, especially cancer.

Our exposure to household chemicals can occur in three ways; inhalation, ingestion and contact with the skin.  Once the body has been exposed to chemicals it could reach the liver via the blood stream. The liver and kidneys will do their best to excrete any harmful substances, however the body may not be able to remove all of the toxins.

household

Environmental toxins are all around us. From the food we eat and water we drink to the products and energy we consume. Toxins have been found in beauty products, household cleaners, carpets, furniture, mattresses, house dust…Being surrounded by chemicals on a daily basis can have some harmful effects on your health.


Melissa Young, MD

What toxins are lurking in your home?

According to a report by the David Zukuki foundation, most chemical ingredients in cosmetics have never been tested for their effects on human health and the environment and although Health Canada has created a list of many prohibited or restricted ingredients it does not enforce it.

As stated above, toxic chemicals don’t just exist in cosmetic products, they can be also be found in furniture foams, carpets, curtains and other textiles, paints, food packaging, home insulation, appliances, toys, electronics (laptops, televisions, phones, cables, wires and circuit boards), car seats and other automotive parts, and many baby products.  According to an article written in the Guardian, there are many ways we can reduce our toxic exposure.

How can you achieve better health?

  • Reduce stressors – avoid, eliminate or find strategies to get through challenging times (talk, write, breathe)
  • Eat smaller meals more often – reduces stress on the digestive system
  • Minimize time spent on the computer – get up and move when possible
  • Get outdoors and breathe the fresh air – don’t rush, walk and enjoy the journey
  • Add more exercise to your week – this can be as simple as going for a nice brisk walk
  • Drink good quality water or beverages (herbal tea) through the day – keeping hydrated is important for healthy skin and weight
  • Set a good sleep pattern – important for repairing and rejuvenating the body
  • Detox your home – look at all the chemicals you and your family are exposed to everyday

Here are some great resource links:

Ingredients in your cleaners from EWG
Ingredients in your cosmetics from EWG
Six fabrics you shouldn’t wear
Natural cleaning tips

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She has been researching and educating others for over 10 years about the affect environmental toxins can have on our body and overall wellness.

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