Do you struggle to get enough sleep?
Women face several unique challenges when it comes to getting enough sleep. Consider the following…
Hormonal changes can interfere with women’s sleep:
- There are reports in the research that in the lead up to their menstrual cycle, some women experience poorer sleep. Sleep disruption is also a symptom of premenstrual dysphoria (this is essentially premenstrual syndrome that is impairing and affects your mental health + well-being for part of the month)
- Perimenopause and menopause are famous culprits for sleep loss, with insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, and palpitations causing problems at times.
- Pregnancy can also disrupt sleep. Pregnancy insomnia is real, and along with body discomfort, a dancing baby, bathroom stops (and other symptoms), sleep can be elusive. Ever heard that narrative around ‘Sleep now while you can’? I’m sure pregnant women would soak up all the sleep they could, if it were only that simple!
Caregiving will disrupt women’s sleep:
- Of course, babies often require around-the-clock care in the early months.
- Children also have needs overnight (the visits to your bed, toilet, or other), and especially when they are unwell.
- And even when your kids and babies are great sleepers, we know that women often get less sleep simply due to their caregiving roles. Things like needing to attend to the mental load, organise the next day (school lunches, anyone?), shop online, or even just take a breather because the kids are in bed- these mean that you get to bed later than what your sleep needs actually might require.
Sleep disorders in women:
- Restless legs are higher in women. Essentially, you have leg discomfort that becomes worse when lying down which feels better when you move your legs. (This can make it pretty hard to go to sleep.)
- Women have higher rates of insomnia. Insomnia is the difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep. Maybe it takes over 30 minutes to go to sleep. Maybe you wake up overnight and then have trouble going back to sleep. Or, you’re awake at 4am and that’s it, you’re just awake for the day. These are all examples of insomnia.
- And of course, women can experience other sleep disorders (such as apnea and problems with circadian rhythm) that can also prevent getting enough sleep.
And sometimes, women have multiple sleep issues all at once. For example, maybe you have insomnia plus sleep disruption due to children. The effects of this can stack up to seriously impact your mood, irritability, energy levels, and behaviour (such as relying on caffeine to get through the day). Unfortunately, all of these factors can seriously affect your quality of life. No one wants to feel like they’re flat, exhausted and dragging themselves through the day.
Addressing sleep issues like insomnia can be complex and requires multiple steps that build on each other to improve sleep. But, they can be improved.