Sleeping difficulty is when you have trouble sleeping at night. It may be hard for you to fall asleep, or you may wake up several times throughout the night.
Sleep difficulty may affect your physical and mental health. Lack of sleep may also cause you to have frequent headaches or trouble concentrating.
What causes sleeping difficulties (insomnia)?
There are several reasons for sleeplessness, including your sleeping habits, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions. Some causes are minor and may improve with self-care, while others may require you to seek medical attention.
Causes of sleeplessness may include aging, too much stimulation before bedtime (such as playing video games, watching television, or exercising), noise disturbances, an uncomfortable bedroom, consuming too much caffeine, or a feeling of excitement.
Sleeping too much during the day, lack of exposure to sunlight, physical pain, frequent urination, jet lag, and some prescription medications may also lead to difficulty sleeping.
For many people, worry, stress, depression, or work schedules may also affect their sleep. For others, sleep issues are due to a sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.
You can’t afford to drop any balls.
Life for women has always been hard work, but these days, most women simply cannot find enough time in their day to take care of all the things they are responsible for. This has created a generation of women who are expert jugglers. The problem with juggling so many things, however, is that if one thing slips it disrupts the entire act. With so much at stake, we cannot afford to drop any balls and when we reach the end of our day and there is still work to be done, we are more apt to give up sleep than risk letting something drop.
You have constantly shifting hormones.
Women have a lot going on and not just on their daily schedule. Over the course of each month, our bodies are a sea of ever shifting hormones that can affect our sleep. Menopause, pregnancy, and our monthly cycles can team up with bad sleep habits, and less than optimal lifestyle choices to rob us of the sleep we need to be effective.
You have fewer compartments.
Men are thought to be masters at compartmentalization, which may be one reason they seem to have fewer sleepless nights caused by worry, stress, and anxiety. In the Women and Sleep Study, almost 80% of women reported that some nights they are just too stressed to fall asleep. Perhaps the inability to sort the different parts of our lives into compartments and close the doors when we aren’t dealing with them contributes to the discrepancy between sleep issues in men and women.
As research continues to uncover how sleep affects our health and wellbeing, understanding the unique challenges women face in getting the sleep they need will guide doctors and researchers to new ways to help overcome those challenges.
Natural Remedies for Sleep
If sleep medication might be bad for you, does that mean all-natural herbal ones are a better choice? There’s evidence that they can be. But they’re not a substitute for practicing good sleep hygiene. Instead, think of them as potential tools to make your smart sleep habits work even harder.
Just because a remedy is natural doesn’t automatically mean that it’s healthy or effective. While these herbal options are generally considered to be safe, you should always get the green light from your doctor before taking any new supplements or natural remedies.
Here are trouble sleeping (insomnia) herbal remedies that could make it easier for you to rest
St. John’s wort.
The yellow, weed-like flower is commonly used to ease depression symptoms like insomnia and anxiety, and you can steep it to make a tasty tea. Just take care to avoid direct sunlight when you take the stuff, since St. John’s wort can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.
Delicious, simple and effective. Chamomile tea has been used as a relaxation aid for centuries, but it’s more than just a folk remedy. The stuff acts as a mild sedative, helping to calm the nerves, ease insomnia and reduce anxiety. Don’t be afraid to make a strong brew. Some experts recommend using two or three tea bags to get the full, sleep-promoting effect.
You can find melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle, in tart cherries. But eating a bowlful every night can get boring—not to mention expensive. Melatonin supplements can give you the same sleep-inducing benefit, minus the full belly. To determine the right dose for you, talk with your doctor.
People don’t often want to feel sluggish and lethargic. But when you do—like right before bed—make California poppy your pick. Steep the bright orange leaves in hot water for at least 10 minutes to make a tea that’ll erase your anxiety and leave you feeling relaxed and ready for bed.
The root has long been a favorite among Pacific Islanders for promoting relaxation. In fact, one analysis found that kava was significantly more effective at treating anxiety than a placebo, and some preliminary research suggests it could also help treat insomnia. But like valerian, long-term use of the stuff isn’t advised, since it could have a negative impact on your liver.
The tropical flower acts as a mild sedative—and, bonus, it tastes delicious. Try steeping a teaspoon of passion flower in boiling water for 10 minutes before drinking—and drifting off to dreamland.
Like chamomile tea, folk practitioners have turned to the root of this flowering plant to easy anxiety and promote relaxation. And it works: According to a review of sixteen studies, valerian root is shown to help people doze off faster and sleep more soundly. It might not be ideal for long-term use, though, so talk with your doctor before starting a valerian regimen.