It’s when reproductive years begin that women begin having more sleep problems. Here are some common sleep disturbances by hormonal status.
During the premenstrual week, women report having more difficulty falling asleep, sleeping through the night and waking in the morning. It’s common in the office for women to say “The week before my period I need more sleep.”
During pregnancy sleep changes each trimester. During the first trimester women typically need more sleep, and find themselves sleepier during the day. Sleep improves during the second trimester, generally speaking. Symptoms of reflux, leg cramps, frequent urination, and simply being uncomfortable lying down disturb sleep in the third trimester.
During menopause, women’s sleep can be disturbed by hot flashes and night sweats. Also, as part of the aging process, sleep is lighter with more awakenings. It is also important to know that sleep disordered breathing (such as snoring and apnea) becomes more common in women after menopause.
What can I do to improve my sleep?
If you are experiencing sleep problems common to women, here are some tips to help yourself sleep well all month:
- If you need to, allow yourself extra sleep time during the week before your period, so you can feel more energetic and less sleepy.
- If you are having night sweats and getting too hot at night, take steps to keep cool. (Remember, people tend to sleep better when they are cool). So turn the thermostat down, layer blankets so you can easily adjust them, and wear fabrics that wick heat and moisture away from your body. Be creative with your bedpartner in finding a solution to keep both of you at a comfortable temperature. Several patients have recommended specialty products, including those from Wild Bleu and Opposheets.
- If you are having hormonal problems, see a naturopathic physician who can develop a treatment plan for you to better moderate your hormone levels.
- If your sleep continues to be disturbed, you may have another sleep disorder, or need specialized treatment from a sleep center.