Sleep is important and, quite frankly, you’re not getting enough of it.
How do we know? Because polls in the US and Canada have shown that women tend to get less sleep than men, with the average sleep time for women being a little under 7 hours (a far cry from the physician recommended 7.5 hours). It’s a concerning situation, as sleep has been proven to help in maintaining health, weight, and brain function, and a consistent lack of sleep has even been shown to raise a woman’s risk of developing fibromyalgia and even aggravate conditions like depression.
So what common women’s sleep problems are keeping you awake at night? And more importantly: what can you do it about it?
Before we dive right into the topic however, a quick disclaimer:
We are not doctors. Sleep, and sleep related problems, may be related to serious medical conditions. Major changes to your lifestyle should always be run by a trusted medical professional first.
Women’s Sleep Problem #1: Hormones
Alright, let’s hit the big one first. Hormones related to changes in the reproductive cycle can have a big effect on creating and maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. While these are natural parts of life for every woman, they’re something you need to be aware of during your quest to create and establish healthy sleep patterns.
Pain during menstruation, as well as mood changes, can make finding an adequate night’s sleep tough. It doesn’t get much better, unfortunately.
Pregnancy, of course, brings large changes in a woman’s body (both the physically noticeable and the hormonal changes throughout each term) that can interfere with sleep. And, of course, there’s the 1 a.m. (and 3 a.m., and 5a.m., and…) wake-up calls afterwards.
And then, for women in perimenopause and menopause, night-time hot flashes and insomnia due to drops in estrogen and progesterone levels.
Women’s Sleep Problem #2: Insomnia
Studies have shown that women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than men. There are a number of reasons that this may be true, such as hormone levels (see above), lifestyle factors like diet and exercise, an underlying medical condition, or even something as simple as an uncomfortable mattress.
While you’ll want to consult with a doctor about insomnia, studies have shown that it can be one of the more treatable sleeping disorders with just a few healthy changes (see below).
Women’s Sleep Problem #3: Restless leg syndrome
Restless leg syndrome? What about restless rest-of-me syndrome?!
Joking aside, women appear to develop restless leg syndrome more often than men. It’s usually associated with an uncomfortable stiffness and a feeling of needing to move around. While doctors can treat most cases of restless leg syndrome with medication, this common sleep problem can also be mitigated by controlling your caffeine consumption or even just taking a hot bath before bed to relax the muscles.
Dealing with women’s sleep problems
So what do you do? Are you doomed by biology to forever chase sleep? Not necessarily, here are 3 steps that may help you get a better night’s sleep.
1. Be aware of your body.
Whether you’re dealing with hormones, or just know you’ll need a hot bath, make sure that you’re keeping aware of what you’re body is telling you and prepare accordingly.
2. Create proper sleep habits.
Go to bed when you’re sleepy (and not before), wake up at the same time every day to set your internal clock, pass on that 5 p.m. caffeine shot, and make sure you’ve got a comfortable place to sleep (we might recommend a Beautyrest Black mattress – designed to help you get better sleep). Doing these things will help make sure that you continually get good, and healthy, sleep.
3. Don’t give up.
Things are going to get in the way of getting a good night’s sleep every single night. You will fall out of your normal patterns and habits. Don’t give up on it, or yourself. Sleeping right can be tough, and if you do fall out of the habits that keep you sleeping regularly, start again.
After all: sleep is important.