A Good Night's Sleep
Womens Health > A Good Night's Sleep
Sleep is a necessary function for all people, but sleep has its own unique challenges when women's health is involved. Physiological phases in women's lives affect their sleep patterns. The menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause each involve different challenges, unique to women's health, to overcome.
According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, nearly 50 percent of women complain that bloating disturbs their sleep about three days out of the 28-day cycle. The hardest tome for women to sleep is toward the end of their cycle, just before the period starts and the levels of the hormone progesterone are dropping. This is also the time when premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms are manifesting and can contribute to the difficulty women have with sleep.
Women's health professionals have some suggestions to help women sleep better. Avoid food and drinks containing caffeine, alcohol and sugar before bed. These things all affect sleep, as does nicotine. A small, healthy snack to stave off hunger, but not fill a woman up, can also aid. Exercising at least three hours before bedtime can induce deeper sleep. Some of symptoms of the cycle, such as bloating and cramping, can be managed with the help of a women's health care provider.
The physical demands of pregnancy can affect a woman's sleep patterns. The discomforts of the first trimester (nausea, enlarged uterus presses against diaphragm) affect sleep, but generally women actually sleep more, due to daytime sleepiness. The second trimester is perhaps the trimester of the easiest sleep. Some of the pressure is off the diaphragm, and the second trimester is generally considered the most pleasant. The third trimester, however, involves the most discomfort and is often the most sleep-interrupted phase of pregnancy.
Pregnancy, like all specific women's health issues, has its own list of sleep-tips. Laying on the left side allows the blood to flow to the fetus and the kidneys (try to avoid laying on the back for long periods of time). Lots of fluids during the day, but cutting them back at night can help. Bland snacks like crackers and non-spicy food will help women avoid heart-burn and/or nausea, making it easier to get a good night's sleep. Regular exercise can reduce the incidence of leg cramps. After the baby is born, it is a good idea for a woman to nap when her baby days, as she will be up for night feedings.
During menopause, one of the most common causes of sleep problems is hot flashes. Hot flashes are caused by changing levels of estrogen as the ovaries stop producing it. As might be expect, those who have their ovaries removed surgically experience stronger menopausal symptoms, as the estrogen production abruptly stops.
Hormone replacement therapy, available from a women's health care professional, can help reduce these symptoms that interrupt sleep. Nutritional and herbal remedies are also available that can provide an alternative to hormone treatment. Eating healthy and exercise can help with sleep at this stage of a woman's life, as well as avoiding nicotine, alcohol and caffeine. Sleeping with lightweight pajamas and light bedclothes can help women avoid hot flashes.
For women at all stages of life, sleep can be enhanced by stress reduction and bedtime relaxation rituals. A warm bath or shower can help set the tone for a good night's sleep. Breathing exercises can also be helpful.
Sleep is an important aspect of women's health. It rejuvenates body and mind, and contributes to the overall well being of a woman.