Arguably, nothing is more vital to your health as a woman than sleep.
And not just any sleep - good sleep that helps you feel fully rested.
That's because the consequences of too little sleep include memory
problems, depression, a weakening of your immune system, increasing your
chance of becoming sick, increase in perception of pain and increased
As women age with physical and hormonal changes, it
affects the quality of sleep. Older women get less sleep and are more
likely to wake up in the middle of the night. This can be attributed to
arthritis, breathing disorders, hot flashes, stress,
depression, fear or other strong emotions. Two major factors that
affect women's sleep at any age are depression and nocturnal eating.
How much is enough?
Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night, depending on age, lifestyle and gender. It's thought that, on average, women require a little more sleep per night than men. In addition, 35% of women have trouble falling asleep. In addition, women in the first 3 months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual. Women experience drastic changes in sleep habits during menopause, including decreased, lighter sleep and more awakenings due to hot flashes and night sweats.
Insomnia is a common symptom of
depression at any age. You may tend to fall asleep quickly but awaken in
the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. Getting
professional help and treatment for the depression can often solve the
Nocturnal Eating Syndrome
Some women wake up in the
middle of the night and feel they are unable to go back to sleep until
they eat. Unless there is a medical cause (such as an ulcer), this type
of problem is usually associated with dieting during the day.
Improving your sleep health
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
- Don't eat or drink large amounts before bedtime.
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the evening.
- Exercise regularly.
- Make your bedroom cool, dark, quiet and comfortable.
- Sleep primarily at night. Naps can steal hours from nighttime sleep.
- Choose a comfortable mattress and pillow.
- Start a relaxing bedtime routine.
- If you don't fall asleep in 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something else. Go back to bed when you're tired.
- Use sleeping pills only as a last resort.
Tips for women during menopause:*
- Control temperature in bedroom. Cooler is better. Use a light and comfy bed linen.
- Eliminate caffeine, sugar or alcohol from diet and increase vitamin E intake.
- Having a light snack before bedtime will help - we emphasize light.
- Avoid hot baths or showers within 1-2 hours of bedtime.
- Medications and over-the-counter supplements may help. Talk to
your doctor to discuss what medications to stay away from and what will
*According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Sleep issues related to an underlying problem
For many women, a good night's sleep isn't possible due to sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when someone, who is asleep, stops breathing for 10
seconds or longer and is often followed by sudden wakeful moments of
gasping for air. Loud and intermittent snoring also is a common sign of
problems with sleep and breathing. It's commonly thought that sleep
apnea affects only overweight men, but even healthy women can experience
Sleep Health Center
The Sleep Health Center at North Kansas City Hospital helps diagnose
and treat many sleep disorders. Patients spend their normal sleep period
(night or day) in a room that looks and feels like a bedroom with a
full-sized bed, private bathroom and a television. Once asleep, the
patient's brain wave activity is monitored, along with eye activity,
heart rate, airflow, chest and abdomen movement and oxygen levels.
Afterwards, the Center reviews the results and findings are shared with
the patient's physician for possible treatment. Sometimes, treatment can
be started immediately to begin helping the patient get better sleep.
The Sleep Health Center is open day and night, seven days a week. A
physician referral is required. For questions, call (816) 346-7450. A
one-on-one session and tour can be scheduled at no charge to help ensure
your comfort prior to a sleep study.
In addition, the sleep support group meets the second Tuesday of
every month at 6:30 p.m. in the PrairieView Room of Health Services
Pavilion. Watch the current events section on our homepage for the topic
of the month.
Take a short quiz to determine your likelihood of a sleep disorder.
Tips for better sleep from the Sleep Health Center.