James Swanwick: Hello and welcome to another Swanwick live. It’s great to have you here and if you are a woman and you struggle with your sleep then this is for you today we have a wonderful expert on all things sleep and all things. perimenopause and menopause. So if you’re a woman going through that or about to go through that,if you’re a woman who struggles with her sleep, listen in because, over the next 30 or so minutes, we’re gonna be doing everything we can to help you sleep better.
I’m joined today by Katische Haberrfield, who is the founder of Reclaim Your Life with Katische. And Katische, It’s great to have you here. How are you doing?
Katische Haberfield: I’m great. Thank you, James. Thank you for having me.
James Swanwick: Yeah. And you’re the founder of Reclaim Your Life with Katische which helps women understand the life stage transition of perimenopause. So just tell us a little bit about how you got into this and what your area of expertise is.
Katische Haberfield: Sure, I think with most things in life, we teach what we need to know, and what we’re going through based on our experiences. And the reason we do this is so that we can help others who are going through similar to us. So for me, it’s coming to my 45th birthday. And when I started experiencing quite dramatic changes in my life was around the age of 42. And I thought, What the heck is going on with me? And so being a little bit of a research geek, I use Dr. Google and started doing and reading all the things to try and figure out as my kids say, Why are you so angry mom?I’m not angry there’s nothing wrong with me and while when I was having a glass of white wine, why would I suddenly break out in a sweat and sort of a whole bunch of things started to make sense to me and I realized there’s this unspoken thing out there. That’s called perimenopause. So perimenopause is the stage before menopause. And, you know, women have a really hard time talking about their reproductive life as it is, you know, we’re still in this day and age not comfortable with talking about words like tampons, or pads or periods. And then suddenly, there’s this process as we’re hitting middle life, and our bodies start to look different.
We’re still the same inner child inside but the outward world is changing a little bit. We all have our ideas about who we are, what we look like, what beauty is, what success is, are starting to morph into change. And then at the same time, our body changes and it can throw, throw out everything, sleep included. And so I just started to share my experiences and women started resonating. And we’ve just been going on a journey together for the last few years to say, Hey, I’m having trouble sleeping. Did you realize there’s actually a biological reason for that at this time of your life and to help women go through this journey? And understand that they’re not alone and they’re not going crazy, that they’re perfectly normal? And there are some simple tools that can help them.
James Swanwick: Yeah, and what’s the age group usually where women experience perimenopause or menopause? What’s that? What’s that age range?
Katische Haberfield: Yes, perimenopause can start, are you’re ready for it ? Anytime from 35 so 35 to 55. It’s quite a big age bracket. And it depends upon your body, your hormones, your level of stress, and genetic factors. 55 is roughly the age women go into menopause. Now menopause is a difficult term because we can only say where I’m meant to pause once it’s been 12 months since our last period. That’s a retrospective term. And then you can get this amazing realization that’s what you’ve gone through and things start to make sense. So perimenopause is the lead up to that. And it’s when changes start happening. And women start to feel a little bit, not themselves, but they don’t have a reason to understand why. And there’s actually 35 different things that go on in a bit of woman’s body and to her brain. That’s a part of the perimenopausal stage. So yeah, it’s quite a wide bracket at 35 to 55.
James Swanwick: Yeah, and you’ve actually created a Facebook group for women aged between 35 and 55. And we’ll put the link in the comments. Whenever you’re watching this at the moment. There should be a link down below we’ll put a link there to the Facebook group. And the Facebook group is named Perimenopause and Menopause Essential Oils and Natural Solutions. It’s a private group. So I’ll put the link down there below where you can access that. So what are some of the, is it correct to say symptoms from perimenopause and menopause or is that incorrect?
Katische Haberfield: Yeah, well, symptoms is kind of one word that we do use. The medical industry, of which I’m not part of the medical industry but uses the word symptoms. But the problem with using the word symptoms is it kind of treats it like a disease? And I like to say that it’s not a disease, it’s just a life stage with indicators that you’re body is changing and that you’re going out of alignment with some things in your life. And that you need to take some pause. Take care of yourself, and pay attention to what your body’s saying to yourself before. You get full blown experiences.
I’m from the background whereby I believe and understand completely in the approach of I have a symptom of a hot flash and I need something to treat it. But I also believe in the wisdom of learning what’s your body’s telling you, so what’s the actual message behind that? What’s the root cause behind it, there will be biological changes and physical chemical changes in your body. But there’s also some emotional concepts as well. So it’s really a period of time that a woman needs to learn to nurture herself. And that can be really difficult for a lot of women because they’ve been so busy, nurturing their families and partners, and their parents may be getting older, so they used to nurturing them, but really got out of practice of nurturing themselves and the true definition of self care.
James Swanwick: So what are some of the signs that perimenopause and menopause is struck? Then you mentioned some biological changes, but then you also mentioned some emotional changes as well. It seems.
Katische Haberfield: So anger is a really good sign. And what happens is that at a fundamental level, our hormones, sex hormones change from from that age and men go through this as well, but a little bit lighter, it’s called andropause. But for women, the changes happen not only in the ovaries, but in their limbic system as well. So it’s the equivalent to the changes that a teenager goes through a puberty, but it’s just for women. And it’s kind of like your sex hormone change in reverse. So a lot of women will notice changes in the progesterone levels and the estrogen levels. I will also see a change in the display of their testosterone. And one of the other things that happens is their melatonin production changes as well quite dramatically. So it’s, it goes up and down, and we can change according to the time of the day, the day of the week, and where we are in the month. But basically it’s kind of like you have your estrogen drops dramatically, dramatically as time goes by. And so as your progesterone and when we start perimenopause, generally speaking we can have high levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone. And in comparison to testosterone, my say, stay high. And so what we get is the changes in the limbic system, combined with the changes in the hormones in the whole uterus in the womb space, can bring forward anger and frustration. So that’s the number one sign is hanger and irritability. The things that you would normally put up with or tolerate in your life are suddenly making you blow a fuse. So you’re less able to deal with stress and your cortisol levels really increased a lot. Another sign closely linked to that is waking up in the middle of the night. So there’s two ways that you can wake up in the middle of night. One is with a hot flash where you literally waking up sweating. And the second way can be that you can wake up with a panic attack or a phase of anxiety and can’t get back to sleep. And that can very quickly spiral into insomnia if you don’t have some strategies and tactics to help you get back to sleep quickly or learn to get to self-soothing to get back to sleep.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I want to dig into the sleep aspects of this in just a second. But is it a common thing that women mistake these I don’t want to use the word symptoms again, but they mistake these changes for something else other than than menopause or perimenopause. Do they mistake it for just you know, life is just happening or, circumstances and that they’re unaware of the actual physical changes that are going on in their bodies.
Katische Haberfield: It’s really misunderstood term because we don’t talk about it much. A lot of women will become highly emotional. So they may not only become angry, but they may feel overwhelmed. They may become emotional in terms of cry a lot especially. And, so they might present themselves to the doctor eventually, and just be end up a crying mess and not know why they’re there.
And then what happens is that the doctor goes Oh she’s having a midlife crisis. Let’s put her on some antidepressants, which has been historically the way that you deal with hysterical women which is where hysterectomies came from, which is get rid of the woman’s womb so that she can function and not be such an emotional mess.
James Swanwick: Got this and that’s pretty antiquated thinking at least in your view, Yes
Katische Haberfield: Yeah, very antiquated because we have emotions for a reason. They’re there to tell us that we have lots of thoughts about a particular topic or something’s happening in our lives and we’re not processing it, or we want to process it. And, for example, the emotion of anger is a boundary crossing. When you feel angry in life, there’s something that has been crossed, someone has crossed your boundaries,or you have let your standards down, and you’ve let somebody cross your boundaries. And so it’s actually an important message to us to really check in with our inner wisdom and see what it is that is creating that emotional response in our body so that we can actually be doing things that are more in tuned with what we should, not what we should do, but what we really want to do.
James Swanwick: There’s a combination of a lot of things on how, in my view how to handle these things which don’t involve getting a pill from a doctor. taking prescription drugs. I’ve personally done a lot of self development programs from landmark forum to elevate leadership community to just you know, going inside of meditation 10-day silent retreats called have a passion or a lot of different ways in my view, that you can resolve, in some cases, childhood trauma, you can resolve a lot of the issues around why you’re getting triggered and in day to day life that don’t need a doctor to like I said before to prescribe a pill for you. A lot of times these prescription pills also have shocking side effects and can do actually more damage long term than what they may potentially alleviate short term. So certainly I’m in alignment with you there and taking a natural approach or natural and holistic approach, I would say. And not necessarily trying to fight and trying to resolve issues through prescription medication.
Katische Haberfield: And James one of the things I know that you’re particularly passionate about is alcohol and the over-reliance of alcohol in our lives. In perimenopause a lot of women find that if they don’t understand the anger and their frustration and their emotions they may end up medicating themselves with a bottle of wine.
James Swanwick: When you said that I’m very passionate about alcohol, I was like, well, that actually not quite correct, I’m very passionate about people not drinking as much alcohol, or quitting. I wanted to make that distinction there.
Katische Haberfield: Yeah but passionate about the role that alcohol plays in your life in a negative perspective is what I mean so I’m an interestingly during perimenopause with all the changes in the hormones, the act of simply drinking alcohol can actually induce a hot flush. So drinking alcohol can be a very unpleasant experience for all women in this period of time. But if you’re not really in tune with your body, and don’t understand the reason behind it, you may just plow on anyway. And just think it’s suddenly really strange that when you drink your favorite glass of red or whatever, you suddenly sleep. Your sleep is more disturbed and you might wake up in the middle of the night with a hot flush if you don’t get one immediately upon consuming alcohol.
James Swanwick: Yeah, and just on that, you mentioned red wine there. Red wine and beer actually have the most toxins in it of all the different alcoholic drinks that you can have. So, while it’s true that having some alcohol at night may indeed help people feel sleepier, and fall asleep, your sleep quality is going to be severely compromised. A lot of people mistakenly feel like alcohol is a good way to reduce stress and anxiety and to wind down from the of the day. But sadly, what’s actually happening is that you’re pouring attractively packaged poison down your throat. You’re disrupting your sleep patterns, you’re disrupting your melatonin production. Your body is not fully rested, you don’t spend as long in that deep REM restorative phase of sleep during the night. Which is why when you wake up, even if you’ve had seemingly seven hours of like you think it’s undisturbed sleep, and in most cases, it is disturbed sleep.
But even if you have seven or eight hours of undisturbed sleep, at least what you perceive to be undisturbed sleep, often you still wake up feeling tired and lethargic. It’s because the sleep quality was compromised by that seemingly innocent glass of wine that you had before you went to sleep.
You mentioned before about melatonin production, and perimenopause. So just explain to us a little bit about how perimenopause affects the body’s ability to create melatonin which of course is the hormone that helps us sleep.
Katische Haberfield: Yeah, so it’s just quite simply, it happens in both males and females. So from the age of 35, melatonin production decreases. It just goes on the on the slot on the slide. I don’t have a diagram to show you but I know that people like Dr. Joeckers, J-o-e-c-k-e-r-s h a great graphic on his website that shows you melatonin production. And so if you’re not naturally producing the melatonin, you start to get the sleep issues. And so what you need to do is obviously to start learning how to encourage melatonin production and to do things like lock your blue light and to help with all sleep processes and you basically need to learn how to sleep I think we’ve learned, we teach our toddlers how to go to sleep but quite often we don’t teach ourselves as adults how to how to go to sleep and how to create a sleep ritual, so that we have a process whereby we set up ourselves for success at night. And that’s what I’m really quite passionate about is teaching people to really take the time and cultivate the space to acknowledge the importance of sleep on their health. Acknowledge the importance of taking care of yourself and really being a little bit selfish, in terms of respecting yourself and the sacredness of your bedroom and the sacredness of a sleep ritual every single night.
James Swanwick: Yeah. Walk us through your sleep ritual.
Katische Haberfield: In our house, we’ve added a little bits and pieces to our sleep ritual over the last sort of nine years. We added A new layer at a time because we like to experiment and also we different changes in our lives. But for us, I have two teenage boys. One who is an owl, he’s a night boy and the other one who’s a luck, I’m a bit of a luck. I like to get up early. So I naturally want to go to sleep about 8:30 at night. But for us, the process of sleep starts around five o’clock in the afternoon. For us, it’s about acknowledging that we’re about to come into dinner time and we need to start to wind up all the busy activity of the day.
I’m a little bit of a taskmaster when it comes to the evening, in terms of and it’s going to be more and more difficult as my children get higher up in the high school grades, but at the moment, we have a ritual of like 6 o’clock is dinner, and you have have had a shower by six o’clock which is I know for a lot of families is like, we’re not even home yet. But for me a shower before dinner starts to unwind the body to relax the muscles. And there’s something just so relaxing about the water for helping you get rid of all those excess energetic thoughts from the days you cleanse it away. And once we’ve had dinner, we have a rule of you have to turn off all devices. So the only time devices are allowed at nighttime is on the weekend. But normally all screens are off and we dim the lights and all of our devices are set so that the nighttime setting comes on at 5 o’clock. So we’re starting to create that association with dim lights, less noise. We’re starting to, we’ve got into our pajamas where we’re more relaxed and then we turn our diffusers on in all the rooms. Each of us have different sensory cues. So we all have our own customized blends that we use and the diffusers go on to signal to our brain that these particular aromas are getting us ready to unwind to go to bed. And then because our bedrooms are for sleep only, there’s no school desks in there. And they’re not for play either. So there’s no toys in the bedrooms. And we don’t have bright lights in there. We use salt lamps in the bedrooms and in the bathroom, so if you need to go to the toilet in the night, you don’t need to turn on massive fluros or anything to that job to back in and then it’s an hour of reading before bed, or listening to a meditation or a sound bit of sound music or bineural beats or hypnotherapy. And then I’m quite mindful of making sure that our room has adequate ventilation. So it’s not too hot, not too cold. And that the boys are set-up so that we have our own way to blankets to go to sleep under because we like the feeling of weight. And then we either have an eye pillow or an eye mask, because I always used to go sleep like this. And then it’s like ah, you know, a mask or a pillow would be a whole lot easier than sticking your hand over there until it sort of falls off with pins and needles so that just that pressure over your face helps go to sleep and there you go you drift off pretty much.
James Swanwick: You mentioned a couple of things there. I know you sell some producing products for that. Just a shout out to your website if you go to shop.katische.com. I think you sell some you’ve got certainly got a book there haven’t you’ve produced a book and you’ve got some essential oils I think for sleep is that right Katische?
Katische Haberfield: Yeah, I have an ebook that you can purchase. And it identifies the particular essential oils that have sedative properties. So if you decide that you’re interested in using aroma as a sleep based tool, then there’s a lot of oils out there and there’s lots of different blends and types of essential oil aromas. And it can be like pouring money down the drain, if you don’t know why something works a certain way and so I’ve created a guide which basically tells you which oils have sedative properties and why and that way you can focus your money on buying the oils that have actually got sedative properties. So for example, Clary sage has sedative properties, and Frankincense and Hawaiian sandalwood. So my brain just works as I need to know the reason why something’s good for sleep.
James Swanwick: Wonderful! So grab that book, grab some of those oils, and then you can use a Swanwick diffuser to actually use some of those oils.
You’re mentioning lights as well. We’ve actually got Swanwick companies come out with a light bulb here, which is stripped away all of the blue light which is responsible for messing with your melatonin production. It’s a yellow, this has a little yellow bulb in nature and then you put them in your bedside lights and it creates a very calming soothing light, which has no blue light in it. And then of course, if you’re watching this and your an existing Swannies customer you already know this but wearing a pair of blue light blocking glasses in the last hour or so before you go to sleep. Wearing these glasses as well will continue to block out that artificial blue light that you may be staring into right now quite frankly, if you’re watching this interview on a phone or a screen of some kind, putting that orange lens up to the screen now block out that artificial light, your body is then able to produce melatonin the way that nature always intended it to produce melatonin.
As opposed to if you’re scrolling through your phone, for example, and you’re staring into that light. It’s stimulating your pituitary and pineal gland which suppresses your melatonin production.
Another thing which you didn’t mention that I would offer Katische is exposing yourself to as much natural sunlight first thing in the morning. Our skin has receptors in it and when the sunlight hits our skin you know, minutes after waking up, it tells us our internal body clock, which is named our circadian rhythm, this is wake up time. And so our body floods with daytime hormones that there’s a lot of cortisol actually, in the first 20 minutes or so, in the morning, which is good, we want that initially. But then after that, we want a very, very low levels of cortisol. And then if you, by exposing yourself to that natural sunlight first thing in the morning, in actual fact, 12 to 16 hours later, your body is actually then going to want to naturally start to flow with melatonin and start to prepare itself asleep. Sadly, most people in the modern world will wake up and stay indoors for at least a couple of hours before actually even leaving their home and exposing themselves to sunlight. But if you can do it, even if you stand by a window for example, and just let the sunlight sun come in and hit your skin for five minutes that you will actually find that your sleep will noticeably improve any thoughts?
Katische Haberfield: Yeah, I’m a big fan of sunglasses off when you first go out of the house in the morning. I preach that to a lot of friends- take your sunnies off. And we naturally go we’ve got a pergola. So let open that straightaway in the morning to let that light in. Yeah, really important, I think that people overuse the sunglasses. You need to let that light in.
James Swanwick: We’re talking to Katische Haberfield here who is the founder of Reclaim Your Life with Katische. Why don’t you give a little shout out there on your Facebook and Instagram and YouTube pages and website Katische before we move on.
Katische Haberfield: Yeah the easiest way to find me is katische.com and then at katische.com it’s got all the little icons that you can click on to go to my other social media accounts but they’re usually underscore katische.
James Swanwick: What’s really the first step for a woman who might be watching this and who now suspects that they may have some perimenopause starting to kick in, but they’re not sure. Like how do they confirm that this is actually what is going on versus some other health issue?
Katische Haberfield: The first thing would be to just grab some awareness about your body, start paying attention to the things that you’re feeling. See if your cycles starting to change. You can go to the doctor and ask them to confirm it, they’ll do a blood test. But to be honest, most obstetrician gynecologist and doctors these days will say, the hormones fluctuate so much that I could give you a test today and it’ll be different than tomorrow. So it’s more about feeling into the situation whether you feel any different and then just being aware of the changes in your body but a good place to start you can go on to my blog and read about perimenopause, or come and join the Facebook group and just ask questions from people just start the conversation. Hey, I’ve been feeling this, what do you think? Are you feeling the same thing? Because a lot of women, once you start to talk about this, they’ll go oh my God, yes! I didn’t really want to say it to anybody, but I’ve been feeling that too.
James Swanwick: You mentioned you have two boys. Is that right? And how old are your boys Katische?
Katische Haberfield: One boy is turning 12 this week and the other is just about to turn 14.
James Swanwick: And have there been periods of their life like an age range where you have found that as a mother, you have slept better or sleep worse or your sleep is felt more challenged. Has your sleep progressively got better as they’ve got older or has it been more challenged as they’ve got older? Can you speak to that a little?
Katische Haberfield: I think that the child has a different personalities. My youngest has always slept differently to my eldest. My body rhythm changed completely when I had kids. So, prior to having kids, I was the night owl. I was always up late. I like to read late into the night. And, I wouldn’t have any troubles with that. But as soon as I had my eldest child, he was awake from five and I just learnt to be awake from five and so he’s nearly 14 now and my body has changed. I’m up, I can’t sleep in he can’t sleep in. So that’s fine. I’ve changed
The other one.The little one has always been a very light and restless sleeper, and has always been a night owl. So for me a lot of learning about sleep has been to help assist him fall to sleep. He’s a lot more of a device kid too. So my next step obviously getting him a pair of Swannies himself so that when he’s spending time on Xbox, he can wear his daytime Swannies. So that’s my next purchase. So that he’s, we’re reducing that blue light even in the daytime for him.
James Swanwick: I’m rocking a pair of the daytime Swannies here with the clear lens, you can actually see the blue light bouncing off the lens, you see how the blue light doesn’t penetrate the lens. It’s quite interesting, isn’t it? Because there’s not actualyy there’s no blue really on the screen that I’m looking at the moment. But in the reflection, you can see that it’s very clearly blue. So the blue light that is being emitted from the screen is literally bouncing off that lens. So yeah a pair of daytime glasses. And kids are actually and children are most susceptible to blue light exposure because as we age, we actually start to build more of a barrier to blue light but when we’re very young, that barrier hasn’t really progressed. And so these kids are staring into iPads or computer staring at TV screens and staring into light. They’re potentially doing a lot of not just physical damage to the eyes, but behavioral damage as well. Because lack of sleep or poor sleep because of that exposure leads to irritability. And irritability leads to eating junk, crappy food and eating crappy food leads to more irritability and so forth and becomes this vicious cycle.
Katische Haberfield: Yes, and I think that a lot of families will have noticed with lockdown when the kids were at home here for that period of time, and their entire school day was eight hours on a laptop. It’s hard for them to unwind after that amount of exposure. So that would have been a lot more helpful if they are sitting there with those laptops and the glasses on, I can tell you that now in hindsight.
James Swanwick: Have you got a pair of Swannies, Katische?
Katische Haberfield: No, I don’t have a pair of Swannies. It’s one of those things you know, where you walk the walk and you don’t actually go, you talk the talk, and sometimes you don’t walk the walk. So don’t worry we’ll get onto it this week.
James Swanwick: Until now you don’t have a pair of Swannies. We’ll make sure that we get you this.
James Swanwick: For women who are watching this. And thank you so much for your guidance and expertise on this.
We really appreciate you helping out our community, certainly the Swannies community, but for women who are watching us, what would be your overarching piece of advice for them, especially I think, for a woman between 35 and 55, who may be experiencing some of those behavioral or physical changes that you referenced?
Katische Haberfield: Yeah, so number one thing is you’re not alone. Every woman on the planet goes through it. Whether she’s given birth or not, it’s the way that you’ré desired.
Two-change happens, it can freak us out or we can learn to adapt and to surrender and go with the flow. And the only way that you can, can do that is to become more mindful about your body and your feelings and take really small steps. Build yourself a nurturing self-care ritual every day. And in particular, pay attention to your sleep because if you can’t sleep at night, then you’re irritated, frustrated and crankier than normal during the day. You don’t have patience with your children, You can’t think clearly at work. And it’s a self, goes around and round circles. So the the most nurturing thing you can do for yourself is to build yourself a really beautiful nighttime ritual around sleep and really honor your need to sleep and don’t give into the culture of business. And compromise your sleep.
James Swanwick: Wonderful. Katische Haberfield thank you so much for your time and your guidance and expertise. So I appreciate you. Remember that you can learn more at shop.katische.com . And you can find her on Instagram as well, which is _katische. Maybe send her a message over there. So you saw her and listen to her on this show in this episode.
Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
Katische Habberfield: Thank you, James. Appreciate it.