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Published on May 01, 2010

Women's Wellness May 2010

Women and Sleep: Top Five Reasons Why Women Don't Sleep Through the Night

1. Hormone Levels

Because a woman’s hormone levels are constantly fluctuating throughout the month and over her lifetime (due to her menstrual cycle, menopause and pregnancy), her sleep is being affected on a regular basis.

During pregnancy, the most common reasons for sleep disturbances are frequent urination, heartburn, general discomfort, fetal movements, low back pain, leg cramps and nightmares.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep disturbances become more common during menopause. Women wake up more often at night and are more tired during the day. Hot flashes and night sweats linked to lower levels of estrogen may contribute to these problems. During the menopausal years, snoring becomes more frequent. After menopause, women get less deep sleep and are more likely to awaken at night than during menopause. 

2. Stress

Residual stress, worry and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. It is important to have a period of relaxation before bedtime to release the tension and stress from that day. According to the American Sleep Association, light reading, a hot bath, aromatherapy or meditation are great ways to help women relax and get a better night’s sleep.

3. Sleep Environment

In order to deepen your sleep and minimize disruptions during the night, you may need to make some changes to your sleep environment. Sleep in a cool, quiet, dark room, and make sure that your sleeping space is large enough to stretch out comfortably—even with your bed partner present. In addition, experiment with different mattress firmnesses and pillows to get the best support you can.

A bed partner who tosses, turns and snores can also affect the way you sleep. Start off by talking to your partner about the problem. If he/she has not sought treatment for a potential sleep disorder, encourage them to see a doctor so that they can have a sleep study done.

4. Lifestyle

A woman’s diet, daily routine, and a lack of exercise can affect the way she sleeps. It is important that we eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercise for at least 30 minutes/day (but not in the hours before bedtime), quit smoking and avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed. Also, waking up at the same time every day, regardless of the time you went to bed, can help regulate your sleep patterns.

5. Medical Problems/Illness

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), many medical problems hinder your ability to sleep well. Treating an underlying medical problem often will lead to improved sleep. Some of the most common medical problems that affect the women’s sleep include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Back pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

The Crozer-Keystone Sleep Centers, where sleep disorders have been evaluated and treated for over 30 years, may be able to provide you with answers and treatment options for all types of sleep disorders—including sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome and more. Our three sleep centers, located at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, the Crozer Health Pavilion at Brinton Lake in Glen Mills, and Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park, are accredited by the AASM.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment at one of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Centers, call 1-888-SLEEP-03 (1-888-753-3703) or fill out a secure online request form at http://sleepcenters.crozer.org.

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