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Women's Health

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.
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Could You Have a Sleep Disorder?

You do all the right things -- relax before going to sleep, and get to bed on time -- but somehow you still can't get a decent night's rest. When this is the case, a sleep disorder could be at the root of your sleep problems.

Sleep apnea. "There are 88 known sleep disorders," says James Maas, MD. "From apnea to restless leg syndrome, these are one of the major reasons why people lose sleep."

Among the most frustrating of these problems is sleep apnea.

"Sleep apnea is a pause in breathing during sleeping," says Rosekind. "The interruption to sleep occurs because the body has to wake itself up again in order to get the oxygen it needs." The longer the pauses in breathing and the more often they occur, the less sleep a woman gets.

"In some cases, apnea can occur five or 10 times a night," says Rosekind. "In other cases, it could be hundreds. Studies suggest that apnea is more prevalent in men than in woman, but the NSF survey leads us to believe that apnea could be much higher in women than we realize."

What's key here, however, is that most of the time you won't be aware of the momentary wake-ups -- so you end up feeling tired, and you don't know why.

Snoring. Another nighttime issue: snoring, yours or his.

"We know snoring is symptomatic to apnea," says Rosekind. "A woman wakes up to breathe and she is gasping for air, and it comes out as a snore." If your snoring wakes you, that's a clue there's a problem, but in many cases you won't have a clue what's going on unless a partner tells you.

Snoring can also cause sleep problems even if you're not the one doing it. "Snoring can be a problem when it's the spouse who has the issue," says Rosekind. "The audible noise plays a role in keeping her up at night."

In either case, talk to your doctor -- there are a number of new stop-snoring remedies that can help.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS). Among the sleep disorders garnering more attention these days is a frequently undiagnosed neurological disorder known as restless legs syndrome (RLS).With RLS, you may experienceunpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them to relieve the feelings, according to the NSF. Lying down and trying to relax makes the feelings worse, making it hard to fall and stay asleep.

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