One in 4 women have at least one symptom of insomnia, whether it's difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep deeply, or both. In fact, women are 40% more likely to have insomnia at some point in their lives than men, despite needing more sleep than the opposite sex.
Different sleep strategies can be more or less helpful depending on what is causing your insomnia. We cover some of the common causes of insomnia in women and highlight the most effective sleep tips.
Causes of Insomnia in Women
Women are at increased risk of insomnia for several reasons. Women are 1.7 times more likely to have anxiety or depression, both of which usually coexist with insomnia. Women are also at higher risk for certain sleep disorders, including restless legs syndrome (RLS) and sleep-related nocturnal eating disorders. Women's hormone levels also fluctuate throughout the month and throughout their lives, during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
For example, 2 out of 3 women report sleep problems during menstruation. The most common symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is feeling tired, reported by 84% of women. Depression, anxiety, and back pain are other commonly reported symptoms - all of which can contribute to so-called insomnia.
Pregnancy, for example, is associated with poor sleep, due to changes in mood, pain, and incontinence, among other things. As a pregnancy progresses, these symptoms often intensify. Nearly 8 out of 10 pregnant women have difficulty sleeping, according to data collected from a Women and Sleep Survey.
A pregnant woman wakes up an average of three to five times a night during her third trimester. The risk of restless legs syndrome also increases from 8% in the first trimester to 22% in the third. Up to 25% of pregnant women report snoring frequently, which can be a symptom of sleep apnea, another condition that worsens sleep quality and leads to sleep disturbance.
Hormone levels change again during menopause, when a woman's risk of suffering from sleep-disordered breathing increases from 21% to 41% compared to premenopausal women. Other symptoms of menopause can also negatively affect sleep, including increased breast tenderness, migraines, depression, and anxiety.
Sleep Tips for Women
There are many strategies you can use to try to improve your sleep. Some of these are best sleep hygiene practices, while others are more specific for women who are menstruating, pregnant, or menopausal.
Keep Your Room Cool
Our bodies naturally cool down at night as we prepare for bed. Keeping your room temperature cool can help make this process easier. Wear light, breathable clothing and choose sheets made from materials such as cotton.
The use of layers of clothing on the bed can be especially helpful for menopausal women, as it is easy to remove layers in case of heat. You can also keep a fan on the bedside table for a cool breeze.
Develop a Bed Routine
Following a bedtime routine every night can help your brain learn to recognize when it's about to fall asleep, so that it becomes tired accordingly.
Furthermore, studies of new mothers show that a consistent bedtime routine is a useful tool for improving a baby's sleep as well as a mother's state of mind.Fill your routine with relaxing activities like meditation, stretching, reading, journaling, drawing, or listening to music
Take a Hot Bath Before Bed
Many people choose to include a hot bath or shower in their bedtime routine. Not only is the experience comforting and relaxing, it can help your body's natural cooling process before going to bed. Your body heat builds up during a shower and then cools as the water evaporates from your skin. One study found
that those who showered at night made less body movement during the first half of their sleep, suggesting an increase in the quality of their rest.
Avoid Electronic Devices At Night
If possible, avoid letting screens play a role in your sleep routine. Electronic devices, including televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones, emit an energetic blue light that makes the brain think it's still daylight. Exposure to this light at night, even for a few hours, can delay the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you fall asleep.
You may also want to limit how often you browse social media. There is a link between increased use of social media and difficulty sleeping, with women being more likely to report sleep disturbances than men.
Using the bathroom before going to bed
Urinary incontinence is a common experience in pregnancy and menopause, and it increases with age. It prevents your bladder from waking you up at night by limiting what you drink before bed, and using the bathroom one last time before going to bed.
Avoid heavy and spicy foods at night
Eating late at night can cause indigestion and discomfort that leads to poor sleep quality. Pregnancy also increases your risk of acid reflux.
Have your last big meal at least three hours before bed. If you get hungry after that, try a light snack like yogurt, nuts or fruit.
Avoid or reduce your Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine Intake
Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can all negatively impact sleep. Caffeine stays in your system longer than you think and can disturb your sleep for up to six hours since your last cup of coffee.
And while alcohol can help some people fall asleep, for others it only increases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Alcohol also disrupts normal sleep architecture, and may increase the risk of disturbed sleep movement or waking up during the night, leading to poorer sleep quality. Finally, smoking can also reduce sleep quality.
Regular exercise has been consistently shown to improve sleep. Aerobic exercise can also reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety for up to two hours afterwards. Even a short 20-minute yoga class can have positive effects.
One study found that an eight-week aerobic exercise program, performed three times a week, for 20 minutes at a time, significantly reduced PMS symptoms. Another study found that six weeks of resistance training improved the quality of sleep in women and reduced the amount of time they spent in bed on weekends. In other words, exercise can make getting out of bed easier.
Take time to relax and manage stress
Exercise is a powerful stress management technique, but there are a number of other activities that can improve sleep.Relaxation exercises can improve the quality of sleep for pregnant women in the third trimester, allowing them to fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night With better sleep, they feel less tired the next day.
For older women, mindful meditation practice can significantly improve sleep quality while alleviating symptoms of depression and insomnia. Even something as simple as slowing down your breathing can help you fall asleep faster and fall back asleep if you wake up.
If thoughts of unfinished tasks keep you awake, consider writing a to-do list. One study found that spending five minutes before bed writing a to-do list can help you fall asleep faster.
Change your sleeping position
Sleeping on your side is typically the most comfortable sleeping position for pregnant women. Experts recommend the left side in particular to promote healthy blood flow to the fetus. Placing a pillow between your legs and under your abdomen can also relieve pressure and back pain.
You can also use pillows to ease discomfort during menstruation, relieving tension and making it easier to fall asleep.
Replace your mattress
If your mattress is more than five to eight years old, it could be the culprit behind your aches and pains. One study found that when people replaced their old mattresses - which averaged 9.5 years - their sleep quality and back pain significantly improved.
Take Additional Steps to Improve Your SleepIf you wake up during the night, keep the lights off and stay in bed, breathing as you try to relax back into sleep. If you're still awake after 20 minutes, get up and go to another room so your mind doesn't associate your bed with frustration and restlessness. Keep the lights low and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.
Motion activated night lights can prevent falls while walking to the bathroom. These can also be useful for breastfeeding mothers, ensuring a safe trip to the baby's room. If possible, choose a night light with a red bulb to minimize exposure to blue light and disturb your sleep.
Try taking the Goodreams natural supplement to help you get restful sleep and wake up with energy and a good mood - it is based on Melatonin as well as other components (Vitamin C, D, E, Copper, Iron , Selenium, Zinc, L-Theanine and Gaba) and does not cause addiction or dependence.
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