Sleep is as important as diet and exercise for good health, yet many Americans do not get the 8 hours of daily sleep that most of us need for a healthy life. Women can especially feel the added pressures of work and home responsibilities that allow less time for sleep, and have more stress causing sleep problems. Sleep disorders can have long-term health impacts, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you think you have any of these problems, or even if you just need help managing life to sleep better.
Common sleep problems
Sleep apnea treatment
Restless leg syndrome
Restless leg syndrome Treatment
Common sleep problems
There are a lot of conditions that both cause sleep problems or are caused by sleep problems. Keep in mind that in many cases, the problems listed below are caused by an underlying problem that needs to be addressed in order to solve the sleep issues as well.
The most common sleep problem is insomnia, or not being able to sleep as much as you need. It is more common in women than in men. You may have trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep the whole night, even if you have enough time to fit in the sleep you need.
difficulty falling or staying asleep
variable sleep, including some nights of good sleep
tiredness or sleepiness during the day
forgetfulness, irritability, anxiety or depression
low energy or motivation
poor concentration, more errors
worry about sleep
There are many causes of long-term insomnia, including:
mental health problems such as depression or anxiety
neurological problems such as Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases, or
restless legs syndrome
circadian (daily) rhythm problems that make it hard to sleep on a normal schedule
medications or drug use
Sometimes, though, no specific cause can be found.
Insomnia relief usually starts with behavioral therapy. For example, a therapist can help you learn better sleep habits and relaxation techniques, or break cycles of worry causing lack of sleep and vice versa.
For insomnia caused by circadian rhythm or internal clock problems, sometimes light therapy or chronotherapy (teaching your body to feel sleepy at the right time of day) can be helpful.
If these treatments don't work, there are some medications such as sedatives or hormones that can help you sleep. (See the resource list below for more information.)
You have sleep apnea if your airway becomes blocked during sleep and you do not get enough oxygen. This can cause you to wake up repeatedly during the night in order to start breathing properly again. This can happen hundreds of times in a night, yet we don’t remember it. It can lead to daytime fatigue and other health problems such as
high blood pressure
or stroke. You are at higher risk for sleep apnea if you:
are middle aged or older
are overweight or obese
have a small jaw and throat
Sleep apnea treatment
less or no alcohol drinking
devices you can wear at night to keep your airway open
surgery (which is a last resort because of its low rate of success)
Restless legs syndrome
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder in which you feel an overwhelming urge to move your legs when they are at rest, and often have unpleasant feelings in your legs as well. This may often be misdiagnosed as insomnia (which it can cause) or depression. It runs in families, and so probably has a partially genetic cause.
There is no specific test, but if you think you may have RLS you should talk to your doctor, so that tests can be done to rule out other potential causes for your symptoms (such as iron deficiency or kidney disease).
Restless legs syndrome treatment
There are several medications that can be used to treat RLS:
Requip or Mirapex (also used for Parkinson's disease)
other drugs that increase or decrease your brain's response to the hormone dopamine
sedatives, including opiates which also reduce pain
There are coping strategies which can help too, including:
yoga, Pilates, or stretching late in the day
adjusting sleep schedule to avoid times of day with the worst symptoms
planning travel to include time for breaks to move around
About 20% of Americans have shift jobs in which they work nontraditional hours. This has a negative impact on sleep, because it can be difficult both to fall asleep and to get high quality sleep during the day. Changing shifts are especially problematic because we sleep best on a regular schedule. It is not surprising that shift workers tend to have more sleep-related problems than people who work regular daytime hours. There are other health problems that an irregular schedule can lead to, such as menstrual cycle irregularities or
infertility. Talk to your doctor if you are a shift worker, as there are strategies to help prevent these problems.
Read more at
The National Women's Health Information Center -
frequently asked questions on insomnia
UpToDate.com patient information on
National Sleep Foundation topics on
women and sleep apnea
Thank you so much for all your help. Everyone has been so friendly, supportive, and compassionate. I?m so thankful for this facility. I don?t know what I would have done without you.
Copyright 2019 • All rights reserved • Brookside Womens Medical Center
Site Designed by: