Sleep Problems and Life Changes Unique to Women

Do you have trouble sleeping? Many women do. Some life changes are unique to women, such as pregnancy or menopause. These changes, along with the demands of family and work, can affect your health and your sleep. Talk to your health care provider if your sleep problems last more than a few weeks. Read on to learn what you can do to improve your sleep and have more energy.

What affects your sleep?

Many factors can affect how well you sleep. Hormone changes can cause mood swings, insomnia, and other problems. Balancing many roles such as mother, partner, worker, and caretaker can also take a toll on your sleep. Worries about these competing demands can keep you awake at night. And, of course, with so much to do, who even has time for sleep? But you need to sleep well to be healthy and have energy. The good news is there are steps you can take to sleep better.

Tips for better sleep

Here are some steps you can take to sleep better:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

  • Exercise regularly. Avoid strenuous exercise 2 to 4 hours before bedtime.

  • Learn to relax. Try a warm bath, yoga, or meditation. Reading a book or listening to music can help you relax before bedtime.

  • Create a comfortable setting for sleep. Make sure the room is quiet, dark, and not too hot or too cold.

  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.

  • Avoid or limit caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

Life stages

A woman goes through many stages during her lifetime. These stages are a natural part of being a woman. Physical and emotional changes take place during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, motherhood, and menopause. These changes can affect sleep, even cause insomnia. But there are ways you can improve your sleep.

Menstrual cycle

Many women have physical or emotional symptoms before or during their period. These symptoms may include mood swings, cramping, and fatigue. They can affect how you feel and how you sleep. Eating a well-balanced diet low in fat, salt, and sugar may reduce your symptoms. Vitamin and mineral supplements may also help. Regular exercise can reduce stress and relieve some of your symptoms. You will have more energy during the day and be more tired at bedtime. Afternoon exercise is best. Nighttime exercise may affect your sleep.


Getting restful sleep can be a challenge in late pregnancy. This is due to physical and emotional changes. These tips may help you sleep better:

  • Take a warm shower before bed.

  • To relax, ask your partner to massage your shoulders, neck, or back.

  • Sleep with pillows under your stomach and back, and between your knees.

  • Take naps if you feel tired during the day.

  • To reduce back pain, exercise and practice good posture. Sleep on a firm mattress.

  • To reduce frequent urination at night, drink most of your fluids earlier in the day.

  • To reduce heartburn, sleep with your upper body raised 6 inches. Don't lie down for at least two hours after you eat.

  • A creeping or crawling feeling in your legs may affect your sleep. Ask your health care provider how to ease your symptoms. Try to walk, stretch, or rub your legs.

  • Avoid or limit coffee, black tea, and cola. These may keep you awake at night.


Having a new baby can be stressful. Learn ways to relax and rest when you can. This will give you energy to take the best care of yourself and your child. Try the following:

  • Ask for help when you need it, and accept help when it's offered.

  • Many new mothers feel a little down for a few weeks. Share your feelings with your loved ones. Talk to your health care provider if your feelings get in the way of sleeping or eating.

  • Try to adjust your baby's sleep to fit a day-night cycle. At night, have lights dim and the setting quiet. During the day, keep your baby active longer. Then he or she will sleep better at night.

  • Take a daily walk with your baby. Fresh air and daylight will help you both sleep better.

  • When your baby sleeps, lie down for a nap or put your feet up and rest.

Did You Know?

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Women ages 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day. Younger women and women older than 50 need even more.