There is no clear reason why insomnia is more common in women. Researchers believe it is related to differences in hormone production and circadian rhythms between males and females. Other factors that affect sleep such as predisposition for certain physical and mental conditions may also contribute to higher rates of insomnia in women. Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms for which women seek doctor’s advice. The ability to fall asleep and maintain sleep is influenced by many factors. Identification of these factors can aid in a successful night’s sleep.
Women in the menopausal transition commonly report insomnia. Menopause is a natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her late 40s to 50s. Typically, this occurs 12 months after the last menstruation. Factors associated with menopause include vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats), reproductive hormonal changes, and the decline in estrogen are thought to contribute to changes in sleep patterns. Multiple elements can lead to sleep challenges for women, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor so they can address your concerns and help you get a better night’s sleep.
Treatment for insomnia includes multiple modalities. Talk to your doctor and discuss the role of stress and ways to manage anxiety. Establish a stable bedtime and waketime every day of the week. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine close to bedtime. Take about an hour of wind-down time before bed, not spending too much time on electronic devices, try to read, and practice meditation and muscle relaxation exercises. Avoiding smoking and alcohol and eating too late at night can all contribute to insomnia.
Healthy habits and attitudes are essential to improve and maintaining proper sleep. These habits should be reviewed and discussed with your doctor. Hopefully, with healthy approaches to insomnia, you will enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
Jeannie Stephen, CRNP
Berks Community Health Center
838 Penn St, Reading, PA 19602