Psychological Services

Women and Sleep

A recent study was done that found the following statistics regarding women and sleep:

  • 31% reported daytime problems of sleep disturbance
  • 25 % reported significant daytime sleepiness
  • 27% reported impaired job performance
  • 24% report impaired ability to care for their family
  • 14% reported falling asleep while driving
  • 53% experienced insomnia in the past month
  • 31% used medication to remain alert during the day
  • 86% of working women reported fatigue and exhaustion
  • 60% reported difficulty sleeping

Women tend experience more daytime sleepiness when also having PMS symptoms. During times of PMS there are changes in their sleep, decreased slow wave or deep sleep (restorative sleep for the body), decreased REM (restorative sleep for the brain) and it takes longer to get to sleep (increased sleep onset). Menstruation was linked to occasional periods of being sleepy (hypersomnia) from day 6 to day 10. Menopause is linked to sleep that is fragmented by hot flashes and night sweats leading to more complaints of interrupted sleep. During menopause there is report of increased anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings and depression. Sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing problems are more common. They found that women’s sleep during menopause showed large individual differences. A primary issue was difficulty initiating sleep.

Sleep changes can also occur with pregnancy resulting in an increase of sleep complaints. There are changes in the type of sleep or sleep architecture that begin to occur at the 5th week of pregnancy; primarily a slight decrease in REM (restorative sleep for the brain) and decreased sleep efficiency. During the first trimester there is fatigue and sleepiness as well as increased daytime sleepiness. Thirty percent of women reported the onset of snoring.

As a result of poor sleep there may be increased:

  • Irritability
  • Problems with attention and concentration
  • Short term memory difficulties including word retrieval (can’t find the word)
  • Feeling tired and fatigued
  • Loss of energy
  • Depression
  • Loss of motivation
  • Low Blood Sugar

A discussion with your doctor may provide some solutions to these problems. At United Psychological Services, we provide a behavioral treatment program to help with insomnia that has been very successful.