Woman lying in bed after better sleep

5 Expert Tips to Better Sleep: Wake Up Refreshed Even During Perimenopause

Do you have the DEC2 mutation?

It all sounds a bit sci-fi, doesn’t it? Maybe like something out of the X-Men Marvel comics. If you’re hoping that you don’t have it, you’re probably in luck because the DEC2 mutation is very rare. Studies suggest that only about 1% of the population may have it. However, it’s hard to determine exactly how many people are impacted given the complexity of genetics and the rarity of the mutation.

So, what is the DEC2 mutation, and why is it coming up in an article about expert tips for better sleep?

This mutation affects the DEC2 gene, which is involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. People with this mutation, often referred to as “short sleepers,” can function well on significantly less sleep than the average person. These individuals can get by with around 4-6 hours per night without experiencing the negative effects usually associated with sleep deprivation.

For everyone else, statistically speaking, that’s probably you and me, we need more sleep to function well.

Why good sleep habits are so important now for those navigating perimenopause

In this blog, we’ll explore why sleep is so important for you and those around you. This is for those who find it hard to prioritise sleep for themselves and need an additional nudge to give themselves permission to.

We’ll also discuss how to tip the odds in your favor to get better sleep so that you wake up feeling refreshed. These tips are particularly geared towards those navigating the turbulent waters of perimenopause like myself and many of my clients. During this time, achieving quality sleep can feel like mission impossible at the best of times. This mission has become even more challenging due to a shortage of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches that many rely on for restful nights. Finding alternative strategies to improve sleep naturally is more important than ever.

Sleep: the “rockstar” of recovery

Sleep is not just a passive state where our bodies and minds rest. It may feel like you’re not doing much when you’re in the land of nod, but in reality, sleep is an active process where essential restorative functions occur. During sleep, our bodies repair tissues, synthesize hormones, and bolster the immune system. Our brains consolidate memories, process information, and clear out toxins.

During my studies to become a Certified Sleep, Stress Management and Recovery Coach, we’re taught that sleep is the “rockstar” of recovery because it improves every aspect of our body, mind, and spirit.

  • Makes it hard for us to learn new skills and remember things, and decreases neuroplasticity.
  • Increases inflammation, fatigue, and our perception of pain.
  • Weakens our immunity, increasing the risk of both acute and chronic illness.
  • Impairs our physical performance, slowing reaction times, decreasing aerobic and anaerobic power, and making it harder to recover from exercise.
  • Alters hormonal function, including decreasing leptin and increasing ghrelin, meaning you’ll feel hungrier and have more cravings.
  • Lowers motivation and our sense of humor, making you feel more blah and grr with mood swings.

Sleep really does impact every single aspect of your life, including those you share a home and an office with.

And then there’s perimenopause making it more elusive to achieve

The hormonal fluctuations that occur during perimenopause can exacerbate sleep difficulties, leading to a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and heightened menopausal symptoms at a time of most stress for many women.

According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University, “Sleep disturbances are among the most common complaints during the perimenopausal transition, affecting nearly 40-50% of women.” Therefore, making sleep a priority is not a luxury, but a necessity.

Pro tip: For more on navigating perimenopause and post menopause read my blog series: Empowering Female Leaders: Navigating Perimenopause in the Workplace Part One and Two.

Sleep a non-negotiable that can’t be forced

A client once said to me, “Josie, I’ll give you a million dollars if you can guarantee I’ll have a good night sleep tonight.”

I’d love to say that I am now a million dollars richer, however as anyone who’s been awake at 2 am can attest to, sleep is one of those things that can not be forced. A good night sleep can not be guaranteed. You can’t just make it happen.

The good news: Sleep is a non-negotiable necessity. Anyone attempting to stay awake for long periods will likely experience “microsleeps”—brief moments of sleep that occur without the person even noticing. This should alleviate the worry of “Will I ever fall asleep?” because your body absolutely needs sleep and will eventually get it. Your body, relying on sleep for survival, will inevitably switch off. This is reassuring when battling the dreaded “Will I ever fall asleep?” thoughts during the night, but it’s a critical reminder of the dangers of sleep deprivation, especially when driving or performing other activities that require full alertness.

So while you do not have complete control over when and how well you sleep, there are a number of things that you can do to influence how well you sleep.

In the following section, I’ll share five expert tips that you have control over, that will tip the odds in your favor for a better sleep so that you wake up feeling refreshed. These tips, will make a difference for everyone, are particularly geared towards those going through perimenopause.

Five expert tips for a better sleep

1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, ideally even on the weekends

While some may dislike routines, our bodies actually thrive on them, and our sleep-wake cycles are no exception. Consistently waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm. This regulation promotes a regular sleep pattern, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. A study published in the journal Sleep Health found that “a consistent sleep schedule improves sleep quality and duration.”

Weekends often present a challenge due to the temptation to sleep in or stay up late socialising or watching movies. While maintaining consistency is important, it’s also essential to balance it with your personal life. Some might prioritise the benefits of spending extra time with friends and family over a strict sleep schedule. Ultimately, it’s about finding what works best for you and maintaining a routine that supports your overall wellbeing.

2. Create a bespoke bedtime routine

Prime yourself for rest by establishing a bedtime routine that works for you. A personalised bedtime routine signals to your body that it’s time to wind down. This routine should be relaxing and enjoyable, helping to transition you from the day’s activities to sleep. Consider incorporating activities such as reading a light book, taking a warm bath, practicing gentle stretching or yoga, or engaging in mindfulness meditation. Avoid stimulating activities like intense exercise or screen time, as the blue light emitted from phones and computers can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. This bespoke bedtime routine can greatly enhance your ability to relax and fall asleep more easily.

As sleep expert Dr. Matthew Walker states, “Creating a wind-down routine is one of the most effective ways to prepare your body and mind for sleep”.

3. Optimise Your Sleep Environment

Creating a sleep-friendly environment is crucial for a good night’s rest. Ensure your surroundings—temperature, light, and sound levels—are conducive to relaxation. Common tips include using lighting with a low colour temperature and illuminance, keeping the room cool (about 16 to 22 degrees celsius), reducing external sounds, or using a white noise machine to mask disruptive noises. Additionally, maintaining minimal clutter can help reduce anxiety and stress. However, it’s important to personalize your space with elements that are most soothing and comfortable for you.

It is also recommended to keep your bedroom free from electronic devices and work-related activities. This practice helps your brain associate the bedroom with rest, rather than work or entertainment. By optimizing your sleep environment, you can significantly enhance the quality of your sleep.

4. Prepare for Night-Time Awakenings

It’s not uncommon to wake up during the night, especially during perimenopause. Instead of stressing about it, have a plan in place to ease the transition back to sleep.

Keep a clear path and consider using a night light to guide your way for any bathroom trips. Have a notebook and pen by your bedside to jot down any racing thoughts to get them out of your head and off repeat. Avoid checking the time, as this can increase anxiety. If you feel as though you’ve been awake for an extended period (more than 20 minutes) rather than stressing in bed, get up and engage in a quiet, non-stimulating activity in a dimly lit room until you feel sleepy again. These strategies for night awakenings can help you return to sleep more quickly and reduce the impact of disruptions.

5. Accept imperfect nights

Not every night will be perfect, and that’s okay. Stressing about achieving the perfect night’s sleep can paradoxically make it harder to sleep. Accept that there will be good nights and bad nights. Reduce the pressure by avoiding watching the clock and knowing that sleep will happen for you eventually. Know that a less-than-perfect night doesn’t define your entire day. Practicing self-compassion, acceptance and patience is key, especially during perimenopause when your body is going through significant changes.

Embracing restful sleep: final thoughts and more information

Sleep is the cornerstone of our health and well-being and impacts every dimension of our life.

For those navigating perimenopause, achieving quality sleep can be more challenging, but it’s not impossible. By prioritising sleep and implementing these practical tips, you can improve your chances of getting the restful, restorative sleep your body needs. Remember, it’s about consistency and self-compassion, not perfection.

For more detailed, evidence-backed tips on how to improve your sleep, download our cheat sheet: Wake Up Refreshed – Evidence Backed Tips to Better Sleep.

If you’re ready to take more proactive steps toward improved performance and productivity, join our signature coaching program, The Power of Small Steps. This program is a game changer if you’re a busy person that wants real lasting results. The programme is made up of 12 evidence-based habits that lead to better performance and productivity. Given the importance of sleep, it won’t be a surprise to know it is one of the small and mighty better habits. Learn more about it and sign up here. For busy people The Power of Small Steps just works!

Sweet dreams!


About the author

Josie Askin, CEO of Spring Coaching, is a performance and productivity coach who works with driven leaders and entrepreneurs to improve their performance and productivity.

Josie has nearly 20 years working in government, in a range of advisory roles. She became interested in the gaps between workplace performance and wellbeing, gradually building analogies between sport and business performance while gaining several coaching qualifications. Now she deals with clients under pressure from all walks of life offering tailored leadership performance coaching, workplace wellbeing programmes, workshops, speaking and facilitation.