How Women Can Get Better Sleep

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There are a lot of issues that can disturb women's sleep at night. One thing that is particular to us is our hormones. So various phases of life, whether it's pregnancy or menopause-- pregnancy, just the position that we take trying to get comfortable at night can impact our sleep.

With menopause, we can have sleep disturbances that are even beyond the typical night sweats and hot flashes. And they can occur with depression that sometimes comes along with menopause for some women.

The term I like to use and is often thrown around is sleep hygiene. And that literally means cleaning up your sleep routine. So your bedroom needs to be cleaned up, your nighttime routine, and even some of your daytime habits.

So in the bedroom, what I like to tell people is that your bedroom is only for sleep and sex. It's a cool, dark, quiet haven. If you can create that, then when you enter that space, your body will know it's time to sleep. Then, also, as you're getting ready for that nighttime ritual of entering your bedroom, any work that you need to do, do it outside of that room. Again, it's all part of signaling your body when you enter the bedroom to relax and it's time to go to bed.

That includes your TV, your phone, and even your iPad. The light that comes from these devices, that can disturb your body's ability to naturally fall asleep. So move any activities that involve devices to earlier in the evening.

During the day, changes that you can make include the timing of your exercise. So often for people immediately after exercise, they get energized. So do the exercise earlier in the day so you can take advantage of the energy. And then you'll be physically fatigued to relax and fall asleep that night.

So restless legs syndrome, it's a pretty common. It does happen in women. And it's something that's a little odd so you may not even realize to tell your doctor about it. People describe it as having funny sensations in their legs, creepy crawly, pins and needles, kind of feelings in their legs.

And it gets worse at night. And it gets worse when you stay still. So it can really disturb sleep. Some people get a good response with massage or heat applied to their legs. And that really can help them get through the night and get some quality sleep.

Usually, when you think about sleep apnea, you may know a guy that has to put a machine on his face and you know that he snored a lot. And with the machine, it helps him breathe. But this is actually becoming a common condition with women, especially women that are overweight and obese and have gone through menopause.

So if you notice that you have a lot of daytime fatigue, that you're sleepy during the day, maybe you're waking up gasping for air at night, or you've been told that you're doing that, and that you snore really loudly and that's becoming an issue. Then talking to your doctor to see if you need to be screened for sleep apnea is actually very important.