Sleep disorders affect men and women differently. Although men apparently suffer more from sleep apnea, women are more likely to report spending their nights tossing and turning.
Researchers aren't sure why women seem to have more trouble sleeping than men, but they have noticed that women have the most difficulty when hormone levels fluctuate. In other words, women are most likely to have problems sleeping soundly during pregnancy, early motherhood, menopause, and at certain times during the menstrual cycle.
Whether changing hormone levels is directly linked to sleep is yet to be determined, and several studies are underway.
Your period and sleep
Researchers know that the hormone progesterone causes sleepiness. They also know that a woman's progesterone level rises during midmonth ovulation and then drops dramatically at the onset of a menstrual period. That drop also is the time when many women report having sleep problems.
To improve sleep during your period:
Take a warm bath a couple of hours before bedtime. The warmth should help you relax.
Schedule more time for sleep. Either go to bed earlier or take a nap in the afternoon.
Avoid caffeine late in the day. Drink your last cup of coffee by 4 p.m.
For a relaxing evening drink, try a glass of milk.
Don't do anything energizing close to bedtime. Exercising, paying the bills, or anything that causes you to be alert may keep you awake.
Avoid sleeping pills. Changing your behavior works better and is less dangerous in the long run.
Pregnancy and sleep
As any woman who has ever been pregnant can attest, the body goes through profound changes during pregnancy. It's probably not too surprising that the quality of sleep suffers, too.
In the first trimester when the body is adjusting to abnormally high hormone levels, women often feel sleepier than usual, but they also wake more frequently. Nearly all women experience disturbed sleep by the third trimester, which is often related to the physical discomfort of carrying a baby. Sleep disorders can emerge with pregnancy, such as restless legs syndrome, snoring, and insomnia.
Most women have difficulty with sleep during the postpartum period, but begin sleeping better after the first year. However, it's unclear whether they have the same sleep quality as they did before pregnancy.
To improve sleep during and after pregnancy:
Be prepared to get more sleep. Take naps and go to bed earlier. Your body needs more sleep during this time. If you work and can't nap, put your feet up and rest.
Sleep on your left side. Many women find sleeping on their left side--and often putting a pillow under their legs--relieves physical discomfort. It's also best for the baby. Don't sleep on your back as it could compress the uterus and make it hard for the baby to get oxygen.
Take naps when the baby takes naps. You are going to need the sleep to cope with the around-the-clock feedings that the new baby will demand.
Menopause and sleep
Once women reach menopause, most report difficulties sleeping.
Much of the reason for this may be physiological--women often experience hot flashes, a sensation of heat spreading from the chest to the neck and face. But while a hot flash might rouse a sleeper, life changes and the worries that come with older age may also be a source of wakefulness.
To improve sleep during menopause:
Practice slow, deep, meditative breathing. Rhythmic abdominal breathing can decrease hot flashes and help promote sleep.
Keep the bedroom temperature cooler than the rest of the house to lessen the effect of late-night hot flashes. A dual-control electric blanket helps, too.
Avoid alcohol before going to bed. Many people mistakenly believe that alcohol will cause better sleep. In fact, it disrupts the body's ability to reach deep sleep and causes you to wake up only a few hours after falling asleep.
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Prednisone Oral solution
Prednisone Oral tablet
Methylprednisolone Sodium Succinate Solution for injection
Methylprednisolone Oral tablet
Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate Solution for injection
Dexamethasone Oral tablet
Doxylamine Succinate Oral solution
C1 esterase inhibitor (Human) Solution for injection
Doxylamine Succinate Chewable tablet
Olopatadine Hydrochloride Nasal spray
Synthetic Conjugated Estrogens (B) Oral tablet
Synthetic Conjugated Estrogens (A) Oral tablet
Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride Oral disintegrating tablet
Narcotic Cough/Cold Preparations Oral suspension(3)
Methylprednisolone Acetate Suspension for injection
Fluticasone Furoate Nasal spray
Hydrocortisone Topical spray
Fexofenadine Hydrochloride Oral disintegrating tablet
Estradiol Topical spray
Dexchlorpheniramine Maleate Oral solution
Fexofenadine Hydrochloride Oral suspension
Dexchlorpheniramine Maleate Oral tablet, extended-release
Doxylamine Succinate, Tannic Acid Oral suspension
Doxylamine Succinate Oral tablet
Drospirenone, Estradiol Oral tablet
Antihistamines with Decongestants Oral suspension(1)
Antihistamines with Decongestants Oral drops, solution
Loratadine Oral disintegrating tablet
Narcotic Cough/Cold Preparations Oral capsule, extended-release
Carbinoxamine Maleate Oral solution
Brompheniramine Tannate Chewable tablet
Brompheniramine Maleate Oral solution
Estradiol Vaginal insert
Dexamethasone Oral solution
Fluticasone Propionate Topical lotion
Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride Oral solution
Fluorometholone Eye ointment
Norethindrone Acetate, Ethinyl Estradiol Oral tablet [Estrogen Replacement/Osteoporosis]
Hydrocortisone Rectal enema, suspension
Chlorpheniramine Maleate, Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide, Phenylephrine Hydrochloride Oral drops, solution
Hydrocortisone Rectal cream
Desloratadine Oral syrup
Ipratropium Bromide Nebulizer solution
Montelukast Sodium Chewable tablet
Double Antibiotic/Corticosteroid Ophthalmic drops, suspension Ophthalmic drops, suspension Ophthalmic drops, suspension
Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate Eye ointment
Mometasone Furoate Inhalation powder
Estropipate Oral tablet
Esterified Estrogens Oral tablet
Loteprednol Etabonate, Tobramycin Eye drops, suspension
Estradiol Topical gel
Clocortolone Pivalate Topical cream
Cetirizine Hydrochloride Chewable tablet
Triamcinolone Acetonide Nasal spray
Estradiol, Levonorgestrel Transdermal patch - weekly
Doxylamine Succinate Oral tablet [Insomnia]
Estradiol Topical emulsion
Epinastine Hydrochloride Eye drops, solution
Desloratadine Oral disintegrating tablet
Montelukast Sodium Oral granules
Ipratropium Bromide Nasal spray
Ipratropium Bromide Inahaler
Ketorolac Tromethamine Eye drops, solution
Ketorolac Tromethamine Solution for injection
Ketorolac Tromethamine Oral tablet
Promethazine Hydrochloride Solution for injection
Promethazine Hydrochloride Rectal suppository
Promethazine Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Antihistamines with Decongestants Oral syrup
Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride Solution for injection
Hydroxyzine Pamoate Oral suspension
Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride Solution for injection
Cyproheptadine Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Clemastine Fumarate Oral syrup
Clemastine Fumarate Oral tablet
Narcotic Cough/Cold Preparations Oral solution
Cetirizine Hydrochloride Oral syrup
Cetirizine Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Montelukast Sodium Oral tablet
Azelastine Hydrochloride Eye drops, solution
Acrivastine, Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride Oral capsule
Olopatadine Hydrochloride Eye drops, solution
Levocabastine Hydrochloride Eye drops, suspension
Emedastine Difumarate Eye drops, solution
Pemirolast Potassium Eye drops, solution
Nedocromil Sodium Eye drops, solution
Nedocromil Sodium Inhaler
Cromolyn Sodium Nasal spray, solution
Cromolyn Sodium Eye drops, solution
Cromolyn Sodium Nebulizer solution
Cromolyn Sodium Inhaler
Cromolyn Sodium Oral solution
Black Cohosh Root Extract Oral tablet
Desloratadine Oral tablet
Estradiol Oral tablet, Estradiol, Norgestimate Oral tablet
Estradiol, Norethindrone Acetate Transdermal patch - biweekly
Estradiol, Norethindrone Acetate Oral tablet
Esterified Estrogens, Methyltestosterone Oral tablet
Danazol Oral capsule
Prednisolone Sodium Phosphate Oral solution
Prednisolone Oral tablet
Loteprednol Etabonate Eye drops, suspension
Flunisolide Nasal spray
Cortisone Acetate Oral tablet
Corticotropin (Porcine) Gel for injection
Budesonide Nebulizer suspension
Budesonide Inhalation powder
Budesonide Oral capsule, gastro-resistant pellets
Estradiol Vaginal tablet
Estradiol Acetate Vaginal insert
Estradiol Vaginal cream
Conjugated Estrogens Vaginal cream
Conjugated Estrogens Solution for injection
Conjugated Estrogens Oral tablet
Triamcinolone Acetonide Inhaler
Triamcinolone Acetonide Dental paste
Triamcinolone Oral tablet
Mometasone Furoate Monohydrate Nasal spray
Hydrocortisone Acetate Rectal suppository
Hydrocortisone Acetate Rectal foam
Hydrocortisone Sodium Succinate Solution for injection
Hydrocortisone Oral tablet
Fluticasone Propionate Nasal spray
Fluticasone Propionate Inhalation powder
Fluticasone Propionate Inhaler
Betamethasone Valerate Topical foam
Betamethasone Acetate, Betamethasone Sodium Phosphate Suspension for injection
Betamethasone Oral syrup