Did you know that men and women have different sleep experiences? On the whole, women report more sleep disturbances than men. Our 2007 Sleep in America poll reports that two-thirds of women experience a sleep problem at least a few nights each week and as many as half report waking up feeling un-refreshed. As a result, we’ve developed a list of healthy sleep tips specifically for our female readers. And of course, don’t miss our general healthy sleep tips here.
- Maintain a Cool Bedroom Environment
A cool bedroom is conducive to better sleep. Room temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal. Given increases in core body temperature during menstruation, it can be even more important to maintain a cool bedroom environment during menses.
- Try a Warm Bath or Shower Prior to Bed
We begin to feel sleepy when our body temperature drops. You can enhance this effect by taking a warm bath or shower prior to bed. The contrast between the warm bath or shower and your cool bedroom environment will help with sleep onset.
- Avoid Stimulating Substances Close to Bedtime
Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Depending on how your body absorbs caffeine, it can be helpful to avoid caffeine in the late-afternoon/evening.
- Limit Noise in the Bedroom
Noise can disrupt sleep and lead to less refreshing sleep. Limit bedroom noises as much as possible. An alternative to eliminating sounds is to mask them using a “white noise” device such as a sound machine.
- Light Exposure Affects Sleep
Exposure to bright light during the daytime helps to regulate our sleep/wake cycle. Nighttime light exposure, however, even to dim light can be disruptive to sleep. Limit outdoor light through the use of black out curtains and avoid the use of electronic devices in the bedroom.
- Engage in Relaxation or Other Coping Exercises
Many women report increased anxious and depressive symptoms prior to and during menstruation. Engaging in activities to alleviate these symptoms will help with sleep. Relaxation, deep breathing, or other ways of coping with stress such as keeping a “worry log” can help to decrease feelings of anxiety and depression that may disrupt sleep.
- Avoid Heavy Meals before Bed
Indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea can be present during menstruation and can result in disrupted sleep. Eating a light snack and avoiding heavy meals prior to bedtime can help to avoid some of these digestion difficulties.
- Maintain Consistent Bedtimes/Wake times and Routines
Going to bed at a similar time each night allows the body to anticipate and prepare for bedtime. As a result, you will feel sleepier at bedtime and fall asleep quicker. Similarly, engaging in a bedtime routine will help your body (and mind) to relax and transition into sleep. Avoid stimulating activities close to bedtime and engage in calming, relaxing rituals.
- Choose a Comfortable Sleeping Position
Just prior to, and during menstruation, women can experience cramping, nausea, and muscle aches. Selecting a sleeping position to minimize pressure on tender areas, such as sleeping on your side and back, can help to minimize the impact of these symptoms on your sleep.
(Credit: National Sleep Foundation)