Women and Sleep

Quality sleep gives us with energy we need during the day to function well. Refreshing sleep increases job performance, improves mood and overall well-being. The lack of sleep increases accidental injuries and stress. Stress evokes negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. Women suffer twice as often from sleep deprivation as men. Some common cycles of life where women experience heightened sleep issues are, during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and throughout the menopausal stages. Women who find their daily lives affected by the lack of sleep should always discuss these issues with their doctor.

Sleep During the Menstrual Cycle 

The menstrual cycle can cause frequent awakenings and this impacts both the quantity and quality of sleep. The following are common premenstrual symptoms and strategies to improve sleep.

Premenstrual Sleep Complaints Strategies to Improve Sleep
Bloating and abdominal cramping Eat a healthy diet
Moodiness-irritability-stress De-stress
Headaches Follow good sleep habits

Sleep During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of great joy and anticipation. Sleeping during pregnancy can be double the trouble for mother and child. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy are the likely culprit of the sleep issues, especially in the second and third trimester. The following are common complaints during pregnancy and strategies to improve sleep while avoiding sleep aids that can negatively affect you and your baby.

Pregnancy Sleep Complaints Strategies to Improve Sleep
Frequent urination Eat a healthy diet
Backaches De-stress
Cramping Follow good sleep habits
Nighttime heartburn Use relaxation techniques for discomfort
Positional sleep discomfort No alcohol or sleeping pills (unless ordered by your doctor)

Remember to make sleep a priority for you and your baby during pregnancy and after your delivery.

Sleep during Menopause 

Menopause triggers additional burdens for women during sleep. The aging process alone increases nighttime awakenings and decreases the quantity of sleep for a woman. The depth of sleep is also reduced, thus decreasing the quality of sleep. This combination, along with hormonal changes, compiles against a woman's ability to achieve the sleep she needs.

Menopausal Sleep Complaints Strategies to Improve Sleep
Hot flashes-night sweats Eat a healthy diet
Moodiness-irritability-stress De-stress
Anxiety-depression Follow good sleep habits
Daytime fatigue Add vitamin E to your diet (supplement)
Increased heat rate Talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy
Pain during sleep Avoid bedtime hot bathing

Talk to your doctor about the problems that you are experiencing and incorporate good sleep habits for a better night's sleep.

 Good Sleep Habits

Things to Avoid Things to Include
Alcohol (especially before bedtime) Establish a regular sleep schedule both sleep time and wake time
Nicotine Exercise 3 hours before bedtime (within your doctor's guidelines)
Caffeine especially 8 hrs before bedtime Eat a healthy diet (within your doctor's guidelines)
Heavy and/or spicy meals before bedtime Eat a light snack before bedtime
Watching the clock (turn the clock away from your visual) Create a comfortable, cool, dark sleep environment
Going to bed when you are not sleepy Establish relaxing habits at bedtime such as reading and meditation
Lingering in bed sleepless for more than 15 minutes When sleepless leave your bed and do something relaxing
TV, long engaging reading or computer during the night Use your bed for sex and sleep only