Why Can’t I Get To Sleep?

Sleep is a crucial part of both physical and mental health. But for women, getting a good night’s rest can be more challenging. Women are more likely than men to experience insomnia or sleep problems, despite women needing more sleep than men. The culprit is often changing hormones. Here’s what to know about women and rest.

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How are hormones to blame?

Women experience unique hormonal changes. For example, almost 70% of women who have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) report challenges getting to and staying asleep. Likewise, many also say that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) contributes to sleep problems. Pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause are other significant hormonal changes that impact sleep for women. About 50% of women have difficulty with rest after going through menopause.

Common sleep problems

Insomnia is the most common sleep challenge for women. Up to 1 in 4 women in the US report being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep all night. Women, especially pregnant women, are also more likely to experience restless leg syndrome. Additionally, many women don’t receive a diagnosis for sleep apnea. Many people associate sleep apnea with snoring, but many women experience the condition as insomnia, nightmares, or anxiety.

Misunderstood sleep problems

An often-overlooked problem that affects sleep is depression, which also affects more women than men. Other misunderstood sleep disorders include narcolepsy, nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder, and nighttime pain. In fact, 66% of patients who struggle with a nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder are women. Migraines, tension headaches, and arthritis symptoms are also more likely to flare up at nighttime for women.

Improving sleep habits

Fortunately, there are some steps women can take to make sleep easier. First, if there are any underlying conditions such as sleep apnea, go to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Women can also improve sleep hygiene in a few ways:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends
  • Avoid naps and caffeine in the afternoon, especially after 3 p.m.
  • Exercise on most days and avoid vigorous exercise within 5-6 hours of bedtime
  • Keep the bedroom cool and dark
  • Avoid screens before bed, such as a mobile phone, tablet, or television

When to see a doctor

Not getting enough sleep can make life miserable. If sleep problems persist for more than a week or two, see a healthcare provider. If needed, a sleep specialist can run tests to determine if an underlying sleep disorder is at play. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.

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