Products That Help Me Sleep During Menopause

I’ve decided to write a little series about products I use to get through menopause. This installment is all about products that help me SLEEP.

I know I’ve been talking about menopause a lot lately…because it’s more intense now than it has been for a while. So yes, it’s on my mind quite a bit. Old me would apologize for being annoying and perhaps pander to a male audience. But now, I hope that being visible about what menopause is actually like, and how to get through it, can bring more awareness to a mysterious fact of life that is underrepresented in mainstream culture. It’s raw!

Whether it’s hot flashes, night sweats, cold sweats, achy joints, or restless legs, menopause is bound to give you a reason to stay awake at night. I lost many nights of sleep being hot, uncomfortable, and sticky. By investing in some basic essentials, I was able to improve the quality of my sleep exponentially.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels

Here are the actual products I use that help me sleep well while experiencing the finest menopause has to offer. Hot flashes, cold sweats, restless legs, burning skin. These items can help anyone, really, but became life-changing during my sleepless nights of menopause. The items I use help me increase the odds that I stay undisturbed in one spot for the maximum duration of time. I seek to eliminate as many stimuli as possible, too. My body will already be interrupting me plenty enough.

These products vastly improve my quality of sleep, even when I get little rest. I’ve tried all the items here and use them on an as-needed basis for sleep. I’ve tried to rank them in terms of their overall helpfulness to my life, but they are all differently important. Some days are hot, some days are cold. My top two products help me every day, though.

You’ll notice pajamas are nowhere on the list. Just sleep naked and thank me later.

Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

Here are my 11 essential items for sleeping during menopause.

1. Manta Eye Mask by Manta Sleep, $35 from Manta Sleep

This is one of two products that are tied for my number one spot! This blackout eye mask from Manta Sleep is a godsend. I can’t sleep without darkness and I am exposed to ambient light at night and bright sun in the morning. I was tired of one size, velcro, and other adjustable masks. The masks didn’t provide the right coverage over my tiny eye sockets and face or fit nicely over the bridge of my nose. I even tried BDSM blackout masks, but still, nothing was keeping the light out.

This mask blocks out all light with its adjustable cups. Say what! Yes, the cups are removable and adjustable. The flexibility of the cup design accommodates narrow- or wide-set eyes. The cups and overall fabric of the mask are soft to the touch, lightweight, and breathable. Most importantly, this mask does not make me sweat!

I have a small head, and it’s difficult to find items that fit me. The one-size items are usually too large, droopy, or have ill-fitting (or no) cups. This mask has a robust, but comfortable, adjustable velcro strap that fits even the smallest and largest of heads. The cups are true cups. They are removable, padded, cushiony, and soft. The cups are attached with velcro. Now that I think about it, this mask would be great for ketamine treatments as an alternative to watching nature movies.

I will never go back to another sleep mask again. I rate this product 4.5/5 stars. My only criticism is the pressure of the cups, or perhaps my tightening the mask too much, which leaves a small impression on my face in the morning.

2. Hair Bonnets, $7.99 for 2 from Amazon

This is the second of two products that are tied for my number one spot! I am in love with hair bonnets! While many of my nights were spent sweating or having hot flashes, my long pandemic hair clung me to. Everywhere. My body was sticky and every single hair stuck to me. I became even more irritated than I already was when I peeled hair off my face, off from around my ears, and off my chest and shoulders.

Ponytails and headbands weren’t enough to keep my hair away. I remembered seeing something at my friend’s house-a hair bonnet! This product isn’t something I was or am fully familiar with, but it’s supposed to help protect hair from breakage, loss, and other great things. It’s often used for kinky, texture, and curly hair. I had few needs from a bonnet: I needed complete hair coverage, and I needed it to stay on.

Folks, the bonnets I bought were not high quality, nor did they stay on well. They had a tendency to slip off when they rubbed against a pillowcase or my eye mask. But the intent of the bonnet itself was to keep my hair OFF of my body and face, and it succeeded at that. This was a great price point for entry, and I purchased two bonnets to ensure I always have a clean one to use.

I will definitely be looking to upgrade my bonnets: finding a nonslip grip and extending the size to accommodate my hair length. I rate these bonnets 3/5 stars. They do what I want them to do, but not as well as I’d like them to.

​​Hair Bonnet, $7.99 for 2 from Amazon

3. Silicone Earplugs by Brison, 2 Pair for $9.99 from (Amazon)

Living in a small space with someone, street noises, dog snoring, and noisy neighbors can keep anyone awake at night. Sometimes I just want to tune everything out when I’m having an especially hard time getting to sleep. Earplugs have always provided me comfort with sleeping, but there were so many issues: size, depth, material inflexibility, non-ergonomic design, and falling out.

I just wanted earplugs that would stay in! And block out noise. The only close to suitable earplugs I had at the time was a set of silicone earplugs, a little long, and held together by a cord. I received many sample pairs at a general contractor’s conference, but my supply was running out. Further, the plug length and cord were not suitable for sleeping.

I found these perfect silicon earplugs from Brison on Amazon. They do everything I ask them to and do it well. The silicone earplugs have three layers of rings of increasing depth. This gradual design fits my ear well. It allows me to control the depth of the plug and desired level of silence. The plugs themselves are short and do not stick out or make sleeping uncomfortable.

Holy smokes. When you fully engage these earplugs deep enough, the silicone (and perhaps earwax) act to literally seal up your ear. It kind of feels like a vacuum sensation. I don’t know if this is bad for my ears, but WOW does it eliminate a lot of noise. At points wearing these, I almost thought I was close to silence. And it was blissful.

These are the best earplugs I’ve found so far, but I do have a few criticisms. It seems having any earwax in your ear can make the plug seal less tight. The silicone plugs become slippery and tend to fall out more often. I’m not sure if my ears are just oily, or if the material of the plug itself causes this. Since these plugs fall out, I tend to lose them. I have several pairs I keep in a rotation that I wash by hand. I wish they had some glow-in-the-dark feature that made the obstacle of finding them in the dark easier. I rate these earplugs 4.5/5 stars.

Silicone Earplugs, 2 Pair for $9.99 from Brison (Amazon)

4. Anatomic Pillow by Technogel, $179.00 from Relax the Back

I think at any age, having a good pillow is essential. It helps with the ergonomic situation, it helps you feel good, and it promotes a good night’s rest. There were a few things I wanted in a pillow: softness, a gel-like feeling, moisture-wicking, and ergonomic design. I wasn’t about to educate myself online, I had to try them in person.

Leave it to the Relax the Back store to have pillows! That place is going to take a lot of my money. Their products, by far, have truly delivered on their promise to promote ergonomics. I now have a Technogel pillow from said store that met all the qualifications. Soft, squishy, but firm in the right places, and a washable, and hopefully, hypogenic cover. It met all my qualifications, but one.

I had to test the pillow to make sure it wouldn’t make me sweat. After months of using it on and off, it works! IT DOES NOT MAKE ME SWEAT! I found the squishiness of the pillow especially helpful with restless legs during sleep. I used it as a thigh pillow, and it had the width and comfort to help ease my nightly leg pains.

I give this pillow 4/5 stars because I am still restless on the pillow. It may not be the pillow’s fault though.

Anatomic Pillow by Technogel, $179.00 from Relax the Back

5. Original Performance Sheets and Pillowcases, $275.00 from Sheex

If you’re gonna have a good pillow, you need to make sure your pillowcase quality matches. Honestly, I’m using these moisture-wicking fabric sheets that are hand-me-downs from a friend. I’m not quite sure how else to describe the material besides athletic. It’s thin, breathable, durable, and does not promote sweat. I don’t know the brand! I learned to love these after using them for a while.

After a basic web search, I think I found the sheet: Sheex’s Original Performance Sheet. According to the website, these sheets are

“temperature controlling, wrinkle-free, ridiculously soft, moisture-wicking, durable” and have “stay fit corners.”

If these are in fact the sheets I own, I will say I rate them highly. 4–4.5/5 stars. Because I still sweat sometimes, but this is as close as I’ve gotten to moisture-free sleeping.

Maybe you want a different feeling or texture to suit your sleep needs. I’ve read that silk or high-count Egyptian cotton are suitable alternatives. While on the subject of pillowcases though, reconsider your bed sheet situation. The same advice applies here. For me, my sheets must not make me sweat. Period. So as long as the fabric meets my needs, I’m game. I’d like to try other materials to see which ones are most comfortable. But that’s another thought for another time.

Original Performance Sheets and Pillowcases, $275.00 from Sheex

6. 22 Pint Dehumidifier by HOme Labs, $249.99 from HOme Labs

Humidity is a woman’s worst friend during menopause. Even more so when you live in a highly humid area. Which has humidity year-round. The worst feeling is when the humidity is inside your home! I can do anything and everything to my body to help it feel comfortable, but I have to consider the environment.

My home has unusually high humidity levels, which I monitor with a digital gauge. The ambient humidity was taking its toll on my sanity and patience, something had to be done. My ethos when it comes to appliances is usefulness, practical design, efficient technology, and a slim profile. Also — does it come in a white modern Apple finish?

This dehumidifier by HOme Labs has been a savior. I plug it in, turn it on, and this appliance does the magic for me. It removes 22 pints of moisture from the air. Some days, I empty this thing out every few hours. Not only am I protecting my sanity, but I may be avoiding the yucky consequences of high moisture in the home. I combine the use of this dehumidifier with an air purifier machine to really make sure I’m comfortable. I rate this dehumidifier 4.5/5 stars. I wish it were a little quieter.

22 Pint Dehumidifier by HOme Labs, $249.99 from HOme Labs

7. An Electric Blanket

Besides having hot flashes and night sweats, did I mention I also get really cold at night, too? I never know what kind of night I’m going to have. With my HRT, the hot nights have been manageable, but sometimes I’m still cold.

When the seasons change, or when my menopause decides to act up, I can help thermoregulate my body within a few minutes with the help of an electric blanket. I use the blanket when I feel especially cold or achy, and I also use it as a bed warmer. For safety reasons, find one with an automatic shutoff. It is a fire hazard to leave electric blankets on, and you may also burn or damage your skin from high temperatures.

I don’t actually have a great electric blanket that I’d recommend. I own one, yes, but it’s not soft and I can feel all the wires. I lay on it more like a heating pad. At a high temperature, it can become uncomfortably hot quickly, so its two other heat settings make it quite useful in the winter months. When it truly is cold, however, the high settings are comfortable and manageable.

I recommend you just get an electric blanket for an extra dose of heat on cold days and nights. I’m not sure it really matters which one you own. I rate my blanket ⅗ stars. I did find this blanket, below, on Amazon though, which would be preferable. It is a 60”x70” fleece-lined blanket, much larger than my current one and with the additional warmth of fleece. It is washable, has a 6’ cord, has an auto-off setting (doesn’t specify time), and is machine washable and dryable. All upgrades from my current blanket.

Electric Blanket by Codi, $66.99 from Amazon

8. Airmega AP-1512HH True HEPA Air Purifier by Coway, $229.99 from Amazon

If we’re sharing the same bed, I apologize in advance for freezing you out. Between the electric blankets, dehumidifier, and air conditioning, I can be kicking up a lot of dust. But it’s that damn ceiling fan I must keep on that is so drying. While the fan no doubt helps me stay cool, it does a number on my nasal passages.

I often wake up with a dried nose because of that fan. The constant movement of air does not make me feel good. And who knows what kind of dust and debris it is swirling around? After using this Coway HEPA air purifier for a few days, I noticed the air quality seemed fresher, cleaner, and less hazy feeling. Maybe it was in my head, maybe it worked. The proof for me was in the mornings: Did I wake up with a dry nose and some congestion? No!

I’ll admit, it took me a rather long time to invest in an air purifier. I should have done it sooner since I have a dog. The motor is whisper quiet. Sometimes it kicks into high gear when there’s an especially high amount of dust in my home. The noise I’m ok with — that’s what the earplugs are for! The noise, even on high, is bearable. I rate this product a 4.5/5. I’m hoping I can find a product with reusable, and not disposable, filters.

Airmega AP-1512HH True HEPA Air Purifier by Coway, $229.99 from Amazon

9. Ayr Saline Nasal Gel, 0.5 oz for $3.22 from Amazon

Despite my best efforts to use my fan sparingly and use my air purifier, my nose still gets dry at night sometimes. I discovered Ayr saline nasal gel in my teens. My father introduced me to it, as I was suffering from allergies, constantly wiping my nose, and experiencing internal and external nasal chapping.

This gel is clear, glossy, smooth, and penetrates quickly. I apply this to the inside of my nose and nostril edges as my final step before bed. The gel keeps my nose moisturized. Since the gel is in my nose, it doesn’t rub off on my bedding. It also has no scent or fragrance.

Imagine aloe vera on a sunburn. This is similar to how this stuff feels in my nose. It has a nice cooling and moisturizing effect. I wake up with clear passages and no crusties. I recommend everybody have a few bottles and stash them around the house and bags.

Ayr Saline Nasal Gel, 0.5 oz for $3.22 from Amazon

10. A Squishmellow Plushy by Kellytoy, $45.00 from Amazon

Storytime! At my ketamine therapy office, there are items to help comfort you during your treatments. Headphones, nature videos, stuffed animals, and weighted blankets. I chose this stuffy for my first treatment because I was nervous, and it was soft. OH MY GOD WAS IT SOFT. Seriously, I’m not sure if anything I’ve ever touched is softer. And the squish. Like a giant stress ball. And the mush.

These aren’t your ordinary stuffed animals, these are Squishmellows, by Kellytoy! Why the mellows in the name? BECAUSE THESE THINGS FEEL LIKE A MARSHMALLOW!!! Imagine a pillow-sized Marshmellow and imagine what it would feel like to hug it. Squish on it. Snuggle on it. It feels like heaven. I loved it so much, It’s a perfect complement to a ketamine iv infusion.

I bought the identical 16” Squishmellow found at my ketamine office, Silvina. I loved her so much that I even bought two more for my nieces. Those toddlers love the fuck out of them and take them everywhere now. Adult and kid-approved.

What a play on words, a toy that helps MELLOW me out during my ketamine infusions, and at home as a marshmallowy pillow or snuggle buddy. I enthusiastically rate this 5/5 stars. I have no criticisms. Here’s my Silvina!

Silvina the Squishmellow Plushy by Kellytoy, $45.00 from Amazon

11. Compressed Hand Towels by Kiseer, 200 for $16.49 from Amazon

Despite all my best measures, I still get hot and sweaty at night. I’m inevitably uncomfortable although I have the situation under much better control. On those hot nights, I find myself restless and sticky, I use a good old wet towel on my forehead. I tend to go through several of these in a night, and over the course of a week the laundry can add up.

So I bought a lot of hand towels. They are all identical in shape, size, and color, which makes laundry and sorting an easy task. I place one hand towel in a bowl of ice water and work the towel around so it expands.

There are so many hand towels in this pack that you can stand to keep a few in your purse or luggage for travel, as they take up the space of a few nickels. They are handy, reasonably priced, and do the basic job of absorbing ice water.

Compressed Hand Towels by Kiseer, 200 for $16.49 from Amazon

I know these aren’t product reviews, but I hope reading about eleven wonderful products helps get you thinking. If you’re having trouble sleeping during menopause, I highly recommend changing up your current routine and trying something new.

You don’t have to buy anything and throw money at the problem as I did. But you can take steps to thermoregulate, relax, and be more comfortable. Maybe it’s the AC, maybe it’s a meditation app, maybe it’s sleeping naked. May you find better sleep in no time.

Trading Sex for death is an anonymous blog about mental illness, women’s health, and alternative depression treatments (ketamine IV infusions).

I struggle with treatment-resistant depression a.k.a. my negotiation of trading sex for death, and menopause. At my darkest points, I had no one to relate to. This is the blog I needed then, and now I share the lessons that came out of my mess.

I am not an influencer. I do not make money from the links.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store