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The Secret Causes of Insomnia: What Every Woman Should Know About Sleep Problems

A hectic lifestyle isn't the only thing keeping women up at night. Here are some key causes of sleep problems in women.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Whether you're living the sizzling life of a "Desperate Housewife" or you're a stay-at-home mom with four kids and a dog, there's a good chance you may be tired -- and with good reason.

When it comes to catching some zzz's, it seems women just aren't making the grade. From careers, to kids, to social and family events, life comes first, sleep comes last.

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"Where you are in your lifestyle has an affect on how much sleep you get," says Mark Rosekind, PhD, a board member of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

Throw biology into the mix -- like a woman's menstrual cycle -- and insomnia becomes even more common. Sleep problems can make it even harder to get the recommended 7.5 to 8 hours of shut-eye necessary to perform your best.

But you don't need to lose sleep over the fact that you're losing sleep! To understand insomnia, learn what's keeping you up at night. According to experts from the National Sleep Foundation, here are the most common reasons why you may be burning the candle at both ends.

Insomnia and Your Lifestyle

According to a "Sleep in America" poll released by the NSF in March 2007, if you're a single working woman you probably spend the least amount of time in bed -- sometimes fewer than six hours a night. And if you're like many women in the survey, you probably also wake up feeling tired at least a few days of every week.

One of the primary reasons you aren't sleeping? It could be something as simple as spending a bit too much time socializing with friends instead of hitting the sheets earlier in the evening. When this is the case, the solution involves a little self-discipline -- force yourself to hit the hay earlier a few nights a week, and you're likely to feel better overall, says Rosekind.

Stay-at-moms aren't much better off, however. The NSF survey found that three-quarters of the women in this category experience symptoms of insomnia. What's keeping moms up at night? It could be the kids -- worse, the dog -- bunking in with you. Or maybe it's a lack of quiet leisure activities to help you unwind at the end of the day. If your evening is spent primarily on chores or kids' activities, that could lead to sleep problems.

Last but not least is the Wonder Woman -- and you know who you are. Married, with school-aged children and working full time, if you fall into this group it's almost a sure bet you aren't getting enough sleep, says Rosekind, who is also president and founder of Alertness Solutions. These women, he says, are usually getting fewer than six hours a night.

In addition to being overloaded with work and family obligations, you may not have enough time to exercise or relax -- or have sex -- which can help a girl when the sun goes down. Often, the solution here is as simple as making just a little more time for yourself at the end of every day.

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