Finding Sleep When You’re Female pt. 1

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If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. The numbers are astounding – more than 70 million Americans suffer from some kind of a sleep disorder, including insomnia. That’s a lot of people yawning through their day! With our hectic lifestyles, it’s not too much of a surprise. But did you know that women are twice as likely as men to have difficulty falling or staying asleep? Let’s take a look at the reasons behind this interesting phenomenon.

Pregnancy and Breast-feeding.

During pregnancy a woman’s body is working overtime! Naturally fatigue sets in. During the first trimester of the pregnancy women may find themselves sleeping more than usual, and this is normal, the body needs its rest. Yet as the pregnancy progresses, sleep may be interrupted by nausea – “morning sickness” doesn’t always happen in the morning! Pressure on the bladder causes frequent trips to the bathroom at night, disrupting sleep. A wave of emotions and anxiety about all the lifestyle changes that come with having a child may also creep in and interfere with sleep. There might be lots of shifting around to find a comfortable sleeping position as the belly grows larger. And then when the baby arrives, sleep patterns are disrupted by having to get up to breast-feed. New moms miss as much as six months of sleep in the first two years of baby’s life!

What to do?

*Sleep when you can. You might never have felt the need for a nap previously, but once you’re pregnant, it’s all you can think about! Don’t feel guilty; indulge! This is nature’s way of making sure you get the sleep you need. If you are spending your days in an office, see if you can find a private place to snooze. Many employers have set up dedicated areas for employees to take power-naps and they find that productivity increases.

Whoever said “sleep when the baby sleeps” probably had a housekeeper and chef! Once the baby arrives, don’t be shy to call on relatives or friends to help out so you can catch up on missed nighttime sleep. You might also network with other new moms and take turns with your own naptimes. A 20-30 minute nap is all you need to feel refreshed. More than that can give you a groggy feeling, or keep you up later at night.

*Body pillows. One of those long, huggable pillows can be placed between your knees and give your arm a nice place to rest while keeping your spine nicely aligned. Comfort is key when you’re pregnant, so if you’ve never tried a body pillow before, now it the time.  Worked for me! And even with my babies all grown up I still sleep with my body pillow.

Hormones

Many women experience sleep disturbances when they are premenstrual. Although insomnia is the most common, other symptoms include difficulty falling or staying asleep, difficulty waking up, and experiencing fatigue during the day.

As we age, the body’s production of the “sleep hormone” melatonin slows, making it more challenging to fall asleep easily. And then once we get to be around age 40 or so, we enter into “perimenopause” and the production of both estrogen and progesterone starts to decline as well, affecting our sleep. Once we hit menopause this spiking and falling of hormone levels causes “hot flashes” that wake up the brain, and can be accompanied by night sweats. Doctors say that sleep problems during this time in our lives is one of the first signs of menopause.

What to do?

*A plant-based, high fiber diet helps to lower estrogen levels and control hot flashes.

*Supplement your diet with Melatonin-boosting foods such as pineapple, banana, oats, sweet corn, rice or barley.

*Choose pajamas and bed linens that are made with all natural fabrics like cotton that can breathe to help keep you cool while you’re in bed.  Pajamas should be lightweight, loose and comfortable.

 

Blogger: Lissa Coffey    @CoffeyTalk

Wellness Spokesperson for the Better Sleep

Wellness Spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council

 

 

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