Nowadays the majority of people, both men and women, sleep less than necessary to remain healthy.
When you experience having trouble falling and staying asleep for over 3 days throughout the course of 1-3 months, your doctor might diagnose you with primary or secondary insomnia in women.
What is primary insomnia?
Primary insomnia is a sleep disorder that results in having poor or no nighttime sleep for 3 days or more in a week throughout the course of several months. Although primary insomnia is less present and frequent than secondary, it can threaten your health in long term.
Primary insomnia is linked to damaged cardiovascular health, mental problems, depression, suicide, as well as type 2 diabetes.
What is secondary insomnia?
The majority of people who have insomnia actually have secondary insomnia. This is a less severe type of sleep disorder, in which sleeping problems are induced by stress, traumatic events, or other medical issues.
Secondary insomnia normally lasts up to a couple of weeks.
Why do women have insomnia more often than men?
Women reportedly experience insomnia more often than men.
This might be due to several reasons:
1. Women awake more often than men during the night (lower sleep efficiency)
Although women tend to sleep longer than men in general, the efficiency (quality) of their sleep is lesser. This is due to the fact that women tend to awake during the night more frequently and take longer to fall back asleep.
2. Hormonal changes
Women face monthly hormonal fluctuations and menopause, also followed by drastic shifts in hormone levels. While hormonal changes may have an impact on women's sleep quality, they're only one of the factors that could explain why women tend to suffer from insomnia more frequently than men.
3. Stress and circadian rhythm disruptions
A stressful lifestyle may have something to do with sleeping disorders. Stress is also proven to have a connection with sleep apnea and snoring, which are also connected to insomnia.
4. Psychological problems
Mental illness, anxiety, and depression, in particular, may cause insomnia. At the same time, being sleep deprived additionally worsens the symptoms of mental illness.
5. Pregnancy and childbirth
Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy, followed with irregular sleep after a year following childbirth, often have a negative effect on sleep quality and circadian rhythm in women who've given birth. Returning to a regimen of healthy, regular sleep is challenging to women, particularly those who breastfeed. Women often have trouble regaining the ability of full-night, healthy sleep long after having a baby.
How to treat insomnia
Treatment for insomnia mainly depends on its cause. In order to give a diagnosis, your doctor will look into your lifestyle and test for possible mental issues. Environmental factors, such as an insufficiently calming and quiet sleeping environment, as well as the presence of a partner with sleeping problems, can also cause insomnia.
For this reason, your doctor will look into your lifestyle and circumstances, ruling out factors until they manage to discover the true cause of your insomnia. If your sleep disorder is acute, you'll most likely receive medical treatment along with the instructions to improve sleeping environment for better quality sleep.
If you've been diagnosed with primary insomnia, your doctor might prescribe a treatment that includes the following options:
Prescription medication for insomnia will help you fall asleep. However, you might be advised to avoid driving because the medication often causes sleepiness during the day.
2. Behavioral therapy
Cognitive-Behavioral therapy in insomnia treatment is pointed toward correcting the behaviors that lead towards trouble falling asleep. During talk-therapy sessions, your therapist will advise you how to alter your thoughts towards more sleep-friendly attitude, as well as the adjust your daily routine to support healthy sleep.
3. Treating the underlying health problem
If your insomnia is caused by another health problem, treating that problem will improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Insomnia often results in low work productivity, absence from work, and lower income due to low work performance. If you're diagnosed with insomnia, you should be patient with your recovery process. Obsessing over sleep with insomnia is, ironically, counterproductive.
As an effort to force yourself to sleep will only result in more problems, your main goal with insomnia treatment is to adopt healthy, sleep-friendly habits and routines.
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