Women and Sleep

Now that my exhibit was set up and the work of putting it together completed, I expected to finally get a decent night's sleep. Instead, I found myself laying awake even longer and getting less sleep than I had been while working on the project. Increasingly tired, I began to realize many of my friends were also complaining of sleepless nights, saying almost in passing, that their sleep was not what it should be. Refreshing, sound sleep was eluding us.

Studies indicate that sleep problems affect 36% of the American population and that insomnia is a problem for an estimated 75% of perimenopausal women. Hot flashes, night sweating, and headaches exacerbate the sleep problems contributing to overall irritability and causing fatigue, poor performance in our daily lives, and adversely affecting our health and sense of well-being. The actual amount of sleep we need is an individual matter. Some people can do quite well with fewer than five hours of sleep, while others could need as many as ten or more. Most adults will have experienced some type of sleep problem in their lifetime without any major inconvenience, but the loss of quality sleep can be debilitating if it continues for any length of time. A sleep deficit of only a few hours can result in irritability, fatigue, trouble with concentration, and our ability to stay alert. Additionally, insomnia is usually a symptom of an underlying problem, such as a psychological or physiological reason, diet, or a sedentary lifestyle.

As we get older, changes occur in our sleep patterns and there is a tendency for our sleep to begin and end earlier. The quality of our sleep also changes. Little or no time is spent in the deeper forms of NREM sleep and so our sleep is more easily interrupted by noise, the need to take a trip to the bathroom, or physical discomforts. Compounding the problem, according to the Better Sleep Council, falling back to sleep becomes harder to do.

Sleep is essential to life and the quality and quantity of sleep is essential to good health. If you have been experiencing some sleepless nights, the following are some suggestions to help improve your chances of a better night's sleep. If your sleep problems persist for longer than a couple of weeks, you should discuss it with your physician or practitioner.

Sweet dreams and good night.

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