News Release

February 13, 2007

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

National Sleep Awareness Week March 5 through 11

Some Sleep Problems Unique to Women

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Biological differences play an important role in women’s sleep patterns, says Daniel McNally, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at UConn Health Center. “Women experience menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, all of which involve hormonal changes that affect sleep,” he said. “They generally have more difficulty than men falling and staying asleep, and they’re more likely to suffer from insomnia.

“Understanding the effects of hormones on sleep, the importance of a room that invites sleep, and our choices in everyday life, all impact women’s sleep patterns,” said Dr. McNally. “The upcoming time change can add to the sleep problems women may be already experiencing.”

One thing women can do is exercise regularly, but finishing at least three hours before bedtime. Exercise may offer relief for some PMS symptoms and also increase the amount of deep sleep, says the National Sleep Foundation, sponsor of National Sleep Awareness Week. On average women, between 30 and 60 years of age, need just under seven hours of sleep during the workweek, according to a Sleep Foundation poll. For others, the average is seven to nine hours.

Here’s is some advice that can benefit everyone’s sleep.

  • Avoid food and drinks high in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol and nicotine before bedtime. Also avoid large meals and limit fluid intake before bed.
  • Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine with consistent sleep and wake times. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet with comfortable pillows, mattress and coverings.
  • If sleep habits are regular, but insomnia or restless sleep persists, an underlying problem may be the cause, such as depression (twice as likely in women as men), stress and anxiety, reflux, or bladder problems, and may require medical treatment.

Dr. McNally also adds: “The bed is a place of rest. Use it for sleep and sex only. No TV, no pets, no reading.” He encourages people to have a comfortable chair in the bedroom where they can read if they’re having trouble sleeping. “Sleep deprivation affects us all – one way or another,” he said.

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