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Women and Sleep

older woman sleeping  

Women have unique sleep problems related to their menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. Each of these periods in a woman’s life impacts sleep due to fluctuations in the levels of female hormones.

Although pregnancy is an exciting time for women, physical symptoms such as body aches, nausea, leg cramps, fetus movement and heartburn can interfere with sleep. Snoring often appears for the first time during pregnancy due to increased swelling of tissues and weight gain.

When snoring leads to blockages in breathing, sleep apnea may result, putting both mother and infant at risk for high blood pressure. If loud snoring and daytime sleepiness persist, women should consult with their physician.

Women reportedly have the most problems with sleep during menopause. Reductions in hormone levels during this period of time frequently cause “hot flashes” which can interrupt sleep several times a week. Since hot flashes persist for approximately five years, this is a long-term problem that women have to face. Fortunately, there are pharmacological as well as natural treatments available to assist in reducing symptoms. Daytime napping may also help to alleviate fatigue. However, naps should be avoided if there is a history of insomnia

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