As women age, many aspects of their bodies will change, and those changes can affect how they sleep and how much sleep they need. Read on to learn how to handle all the hormonal swings that life will throw at you.
A teen girl’s changing hormones cause a shift in her sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. This means that during this age range, she is naturally wired stay up later at night, get up later in the morning and need more total hours of sleep (about night hours a night).
The regular rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone during the week before a woman’s period sometimes disrupts sleep. The brief rise in body temperature associated with the sudden release of luteinizing hormone during days six to 14 of the menstrual cycle may also make it uncomfortable for some women to sleep. If you experience sleep problems, mind-body therapies like yoga and deep breathing techniques may help, as well as sleep aids and a healthy sleep hygiene routine.
Pregnant and postpartum women have to deal not only with hormonal changes, but also with issues relating to constant urination, tender breasts, and growing bellies, all of which can interrupt a good night’s sleep. During early stages of pregnancy, a slight increase in basal body temperature—and the subsequent higher core temperature that is often maintained throughout an entire pregnancy—may prevent pregnant women from falling asleep easily, as well. Women who have postpartum sleep disorders are often prescribed low-dose estrogen to help alleviate some of the problem, since that particular hormone won’t interfere with the lactation and breastfeeding process.
When a woman reaches her late 40’s or early 50’s, she will most likely start going through menopause. During this time, her ovaries stop producing both estrogen and progesterone, and she therefore stops menstruating. One side effect of menopause includes hot flashes—or the sudden feeling of warmth spreading throughout the body. These symptoms can last for five years, and can make it very difficult to sleep. In some cases, hormone replacement therapy may help to alleviate symptoms.