Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg on February 21, 2012

Sources

Michael J. Breus, PhD, American Board of Sleep Medicine, Clinical Psychology, Clinical Sleep Disorders, Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine, Atlanta.

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Video Transcript

Michael Breus, PhD: What’s interesting about that is women in general, although their bodies actually get better sleep than men historically when we look in the data, they only get better sleep for short periods of time. Because everything starts when the menstrual cycle begins. So when the woman’s menstrual cycle begins, I’ve got patients who are really sleepy a week before their period and I’ve got women who have insomnia the week before their period. I have women who are really sleeping during their period, and women who have insomnia during their period. So, it’s very individualized, based on your menstrual cycle, and that ebb and flow is going to occur over the course of the 28 to 30 day cycle that you’re going to have throughout your entire life. Then women may or may not become pregnant. That’s a whole other ball game when it comes to sleep. A lot of women are absolutely exhausted during their first trimester, or have insomnia during their first trimester. The second trimester is usually the area where women are able to fall asleep a little bit better, but by the time they have their third trimester, they are so uncomfortable, and they can’t get into a good position, that they don’t get good sleep then. Now, we’re talking about after the baby has come. Well all bets are pretty much off once the baby has shown up, especially if you're breastfeeding because then you’ve got more sleep deprivation because children are waking up, needing to be fed and things of that nature. So again, women have the pretty bad deal when it comes to sleep over the course of that section of their lives. When we move past that, whether or not you sleep during your children’s teenage years may be another factor of your child, and then you start to get into menopause. And then we’ve got significant hormonal changes that are going to cause sleepiness in some people and insomnia in others. Primarily, we see a lot of insomnia. There’s only been one or two studies that have looked at sleep aides with women who are going through menopause and they’ve actually shown some pretty good results in that women who are going through menopause can take some of these sleep medications and do pretty well.