There is nothing worse than tossing and turning all night and feeling completely drained the following day. Many people are unaware, however, that sleep-related problems occur more frequently in women and can have serious health effects throughout life.
We’ve outlined a few important effects that sleep has on female health.
Why Women’s Health is Particularly Affected by Sleep Disorders
- Hormonal changes can cause sleep disorders
Women face a series of unique hormonal changes throughout life, including puberty, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause. Research has shown increased difficulty in sleeping during these periods of life, due to the surge of hormonal activity.
- Perpetuated symptoms during hormonal changes
Illnesses such as sleep apnea, or insomnia can amplify unbearable symptoms, which are already present during phases of hormonal change. For example, sleep deprivation sufferers often report depression due to a lack of sleep, which could perpetuate feelings of depression that are already associated with postpartum.
- Increased health risks
Many of the symptoms caused by inadequate sleep affect both men and women. However, women may be at a higher risk for developing certain diseases that may require urgent care, such as dementia, atrial-fibrillation and type 2 diabetes as a result of sleep deprivation.
- Male-centric research
Much of the research surrounding the health effects and symptoms of sleep deprivation is outdated and specific to men, which has caused a lack of information on female-specific effects. For example, a common symptom of sleep apnea among men is excessive snoring, whereas women may experience different symptoms such as extreme fluctuations in mood. Women’s health clinics act as an important resource for information on female symptoms and the effects of illnesses.
- Frequent misdiagnosis
Due to a lack of research on female symptoms and effects of sleep disorders, as well as a lack of information on female-specific treatment, women are often misdiagnosed. For example, physicians may attribute a lack of sleep to a simple side effect of pregnancy or hot flashes during menopause. Additionally, female treatment can be much different from male treatment. For example, women experiencing sleep disorders after pregnancy could improve sleep by pumping breast milk. The best way to receive a proper diagnosis is to visit a women’s health clinic, where female-specific information and treatment is widely available.
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