Insomnia is a common condition, but women have more trouble sleeping than men.
It is estimated that one in four women suffer from insomnia, compared to one in five men. A combination of physical and mental factors explains the difference, from menopause to pregnancy to depression.
That’s why it’s especially important for women to practice good “sleep hygiene” to ensure they get a good night’s rest to prepare for the day ahead.
What interferes with women’s sleep?
Multiple health factors in both men and women can lead to insomnia, including lung and heart disorders, hypertension, and chronic pain. Medications for those conditions can contribute to sleep disturbances.
Sleep problems are also more common for both men and women as we age. But for older women, menopause makes insomnia even more likely. Hot flashes and night sweats can wake women up and then make it hard to get back to sleep. These symptoms can last for months or years.
For younger women, pregnancy is a major factor interfering with sleep, especially in the third trimester, when a woman’s abdomen increases in size and pressure on the bladder causes more frequent trips to the bathroom during pregnancy. night. About 75% of pregnant women report sleep disturbances, which continue after the birth of a child due to night feedings or comfort from a crying baby.
Women are also much more likely than men to get urinary tract infections, which can lead to insomnia.
Another reason for women’s sleep problems? Your male partners. Men are more likely to be habitual snorers, and noise can make it difficult for women to sleep.
Finally, depression and anxiety are two of the main contributors to chronic insomnia, and women are more likely to experience both disorders. A pre-pandemic survey found a significantly higher percentage of women than men experiencing different levels of anxiety.
Women are also twice as likely to experience depression during their lifetime as men. Cultural factors may partially contribute to that disparity: Men find it more difficult to talk about anxiety or depression.
The consequences of insomnia
Acute insomnia can be brief (lasting a few days or weeks) and is usually related to a stressful event in your life.
Chronic insomnia is more serious because it lasts longer. It can cause severe fatigue. Attention, concentration and memory can suffer. You may become less sociable, and your performance at school and work may be affected. You may lack energy and become irritable.
Fight back with good sleep hygiene
Just as washing your hands and brushing your teeth are important for personal hygiene, good habits at night contribute to sleep hygiene.
Here are some steps to increase your chances of uninterrupted sleep:
- Go to sleep and get up at the same time. Keeping a schedule is important.
- If you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and try again later.
- Drink coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages only in the morning.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking at night. (It would really be better not to smoke at all).
- Keep your room dark, cool, quiet, and free of reminders of work or other things that may cause you stress.
- Get plenty of exercise, but avoid strenuous workouts too close to bedtime.
- While in bed, avoid looking at phones, computer screens, or e-books that emit light.
You should check with your doctor before trying over-the-counter medications to help you sleep.
Therapy is also an effective way to get to the root causes of what might be depriving you of sleep.
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