CINCINNATI—Many women—particularly full-time moms, those with full-time jobs outside the home and those who take on both roles—think losing sleep is just a natural side effect of their busy schedules.
What they often don’t realize, says University of Cincinnati sleep expert Victoria Surdulescu, MD, is that a woman’s physiology alone—not just lifestyle—can disrupt sleep.
Surdulescu, who leads UC’s Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Center, says hormonal changes are at the root of more than half of the sleep problems experienced by women. And getting a good night’s sleep, she says, is important to quality of life, productivity, safety and overall health.
“Menstruation, pregnancy, the post-partum time period and menopause are all times of extreme hormonal changes,” says Surdulescu. “Women should pay attention to their bodies and take steps to counteract the negative effects these changes have on our ability to get a good night’s rest.”
During menstruation, Surdulescu says, it’s important to get regular exercise and avoid caffeine, alcohol and large meals close to bedtime. And, she says, a short nap during the day is not a bad idea.
Pregnant women should also exercise regularly, take naps if possible and drink lots of water throughout the day.
Naps become extremely important after giving birth, Surdulescu says. So having others around to help care for a new baby can help to regulate sleep patterns.
During menopause, many women experience hot flashes that disrupt their sleep throughout the night. Surdulescu suggests adjusting the clothing you wear to bed to alleviate hot flashes.
Surdulescu cautions that many of the hormonal changes women experience can also lead to changes in mood. You should see your doctor right away if you feel depressed.
The National Sleep Foundation is hosting National Sleep Awareness Week March 5–11, 2007—an annual event that coincides with the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. On Tuesday, March 6, the foundation will release results of the 2007 Sleep in America Poll, which will highlight women and sleep. To view results of the poll, visit www.sleepfoundation.org.
For more information about UC’s Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Center, visit www.ucsleepcenter.com or call (513) 475-7500.