In an earlier blog post we explored common sleep problems and disorders that ail adults in the United States. Not getting the necessary sleep affects everyone. However, it doesn’t have the same affect on everyone equally. According to research cited on WebMD, women who report sleepless nights have a greater chance for health problems than men who have the same problem.
Sleep loss affects a person’s overall health. Yet the studies that looked at gender differences found that women who have a difficult time sleeping at night have an elevated risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
Not only are women with poor sleep habits at an elevated risk for diseases but according to a NSF Sleep in America poll, women are also more likely to have a hard time falling and staying asleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 40 million American men and women suffer from sleep disorders. However, sleep problems such as insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and nighttime pain are more commonly reported by women.
Four Common Sleep Problems Reported by Women
Insomnia is one of the most common sleep problems. For women, insomnia may be caused by menstruation, pregnancy or menopause. There are many approaches that can help with insomnia. Exercising, eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and caffeine are all changes that can help improve overall sleep quality.
- Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder affecting one in 2,000 people. People with narcolepsy have excessive daytime sleepiness and can suddenly have “sleep attacks,” an extreme urge to sleep. Thanks to scientific breakthroughs, new treatments can better manage the symptoms of this disorder.
- Restless leg syndrome(RLS) is a movement disorder affecting up to 12 million Americans. According to a Sleep in America poll, 18 percent of the female population suffered from RLS. Restless Leg Syndrome can cause daytime sleepiness, mood swings, anxiety, and ultimately depression. Vitamin supplements and other medications can help treat RLS symptoms.
- Nighttime pains, such as muscle cramps, are painful contractions or a tightening of a muscle that comes suddenly and can last a few seconds up to several minutes. Muscle cramps can occur due to pregnancy, exercise, dehydration or certain medications such as birth control. You can help mitigate the severity of muscle cramps through stretching, warm showers, ice or cold packs, and making sure to stay hydrated.
Although some sleep disorders can be mitigated through small lifestyle changes, others are more serious. Whether you’re a man or a woman, stay informed and go to the doctor if your sleep problems seem out of control.