Woman lying in bed cannot fall asleep suffers from insomnia
It’s recommended that a healthy adult gets seven to nine hours of sleep every night. However, for some people, that’s a distant dream rather than a frequent reality. Many things can contribute to you losing sleep. You may have had to adapt under the stressful circumstances of Covid-19 which has meant you’ve lost some shut-eye over the last three months. However, for some people staying up all night is something they really suffer with all of the time. Studies have shown that women are more likely to suffer from sleep problems and insomnia and finding tailored treatments may be the way forward.
There are a number of sleep disorders and problems but insomnia is the most common. It’s described as an inability to go to sleep, waking up too early or feeling unrested after sleep for at least three nights a week for at least three months. It can be split into primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is a disorder and isn’t a symptom of another condition. Secondary insomnia is a side effect of another health problem. Most people with chronic insomnia usually experience it because of other health conditions. The Office on Women’s Health states that one in four women have trouble falling or remaining asleep. It’s more common in older women than men.
According to the Sleep Foundation, more women than men experience symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week (63% compared to 54%.) Stress, anxiety or depression are leading causes of insomnia and may be why you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep during the Covid-19 pandemic. Noise, room temperature and shift work are also things to consider. Studies have also found that your hormones may be tied to your sleep schedule.
During your menstrual cycle, in the days leading up to your bleed, your progesterone levels drop. This means that during the days that you’re experiencing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome you may really struggle to sleep. After your monthly bleed, your progesterone levels rise again and it may mean you sleep much better. Similarly, during the first trimester of pregnancy, both your estrogen and progesterone levels will rise considerably. This is one reason people feel sleepy during the early stages of pregnancy.
Menopause is another time that your hormones fluctuate dramatically. Some side effects of the menopause include hot flashes and night sweats which can be incredibly disruptive for sleep.
Hormones and stress levels may not be the only reasons why insomnia affects more women than men. According to a study produced by the Society for Women’s Health Research, when looking at the sleep habits of women and men they found that women take a longer amount of time to fall asleep. Women were also more likely to suffer from restless leg syndrome which increases after they had children. An overactive bladder is more common in women and they found women were more likely to be caregivers for elderly parents which increased the stress on their mental health.
In an assessment for insomnia, it’s likely your doctor will ask you about your sleep habits and routine and talk about any medication you’re already taking. If you would rather avoid the doctors during the Covid-19 pandemic then try to be strict with a sleep schedule for yourself. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid being in bed unless you’re tired and unwind for one hour before you go to sleep. Exercising throughout the day can help tire you out before bed and ensuring that your bedroom is completely dark and quiet may help.
While you can control external stimuli, your sleep problems may be rooted in your menstrual cycle or mental health. If you’ve tried adapting your sleep routine, have been suffering for months and your insomnia is making everyday life very difficult then you should speak to your doctor. There are medicinal and therapy treatment options available. If you experience PMS or are pre-menopausal your clinician may be able to highlight how your hormones are wreaking havoc with your nighttime routine.