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A Woman’s Physiology Can Disrupt Sleep

Many women, particularly full-time moms, those with full-time jobs outside the home and those who take on both roles, think losing sleep is just a natural side effect of their busy schedules.

What they often don’t realize is that a woman’s physiology alone, not just her lifestyle, can disrupt sleep.

Hormonal changes are at the root of more than half of the sleep problems experienced by women. And getting a good night’s sleep is important to quality of life, productivity, safety and overall health. Women should pay attention to their bodies and take steps to counteract the negative effects these changes have on our ability to get a good night’s rest.

Four times of extreme hormonal changes are:

  • Menstruation: It’s important to get regular exercise and avoid caffeine, alcohol and large meals close to bedtime while menstruating. Also, a short nap during the day is not a bad idea.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women should also exercise regularly, take naps if possible and drink lots of water throughout the day.
  • Post-Partum Time Period: Naps become extremely important after giving birth, so having others around to help care for a new baby can help to regulate sleep patterns.
  • Menopause: Many women experience hot flashes that disrupt their sleep throughout the night during menopause. It is suggested to adjust the clothing you wear to bed to alleviate hot flashes.

Many of the hormonal changes women experience can also lead to changes in mood. You should see your doctor right away if you feel depressed.

This article originally appeared in UC Health Line (3/1/07), a service of the Academic Health Center Public Relations Department and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2007.

For more information:

Go to the Women’s Health health topic.