“I am an insomniac.” “I am a night owl.” “I am all whacked out today.” You must have heard people saying it offhandedly, often in jest, while talking about the nights they haven’t slept well. However, trouble sleeping is a chronic and serious issue for many. More so, it affects women more than men. Sleep deprivation may stir up the hornet’s nest of one’s health. In the long run, it may lead to crankiness, impaired memory, weight gain, weakened immune system, increased risk for diabetes and heart disease, high blood pressure, and low sex drive. Therefore, it is critically important to identify the cause of poor sleep pattern and address it.

What are the common causes of insomnia in women?

Several reasons—such as hormonal changes, breast feeding at night, a colicky baby, work-related stress, personal issues, health problems, and mental health issue—may contribute to an increased probability of insomnia in women.

A few lesser-known causes include:

  • Parasomnia: This conditions is associated with abnormal during sleep ( e.g., sleepwalking or frequent nightmares that lead to insufficient sleep.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): As the name suggests, OSA causes breathing disturbances while asleep. Your breathing follows a start-and-stop cycle in presence of OSA. The phase of partial or obstructed breathing disrupts sleep and may lead to waking up gasping for breath. Snoring, daytime sleepiness, and obesity are tell-tale signs of OSA.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): This condition causes legs to move incessantly while lying down. Pregnant women are more prone to RLS.

What are the solutions for sleep problems in women?

  1. Practice sleep hygiene
  2. Sleep hygiene refers to habits that help you get sound sleep. These include going to bed and waking up at the same time, eating light dinner or eating at least 2-4 hours before going to bed, not consuming caffeine or alcohol in the evening, refraining from using blue-light emitting devices (e.g., electronic displays) at least two hours before sleeping, and keeping your room quiet, dark, and temperature-regulated.

  1. Use a sleep tracker
  2. Sleep tracking apps help you identify the problems in your sleep pattern and correct them. For example, tracking will help you know if you are getting enough sleep and how long it takes you to sleep again if you wake up at night. In addition, it allows you to track your mood and check if your sleep habits are affecting it.

  1. Manage worrisome thoughts
  2. The mind gets more active when we are lying still. Generally, people can manage the flow of thoughts and fall asleep. However, with problems like depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), running thoughts make sleeping difficult. So, read for some time, write a journal, practice breathing techniques, and seek therapy to manage rumination.

  1. Say no to clinomania
  2. Get out of bed if you cannot sleep for a long time, and do something that tires your mind. However, intense exercises are not helpful as may lead to mental stimulation.

  1. Be active
  2. No solution for insomnia may be that effective if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. However, sufficient daily activity and exercise tires the body, promoting better sleep. Physical activity also improves mood, which may help regulate racing thoughts.