Insomnia can result from reproductive issues in either men or women, although specific causes are unique to each gender.
As women approach menopause, hormone levels begin to shift. This shifting causes an imbalance between the female hormones estrogen and progesterone and is responsible for an increase in sleep disturbances. As if hot flashes, vaginal dryness and thinning bones weren't enough, insomnia is also a common occurrence during menopause. Hormonal fluctuations can cause insomnia indirectly as a result of frequent hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy has improved the sleeping patterns of many women. In addition, some women have found dietary changes and natural remedies to be helpful. These will be addressed in Chapter Five.
Male Hormones and Sleep Problems
While men experience a "lite" version of menopause, they nonetheless go through a similar shifting of hormones. Decreases in testosterone can result in sleep disturbances, especially later in life when testosterone production falls off sharply.
Pregnancy can temporarily interfere with restful sleep for a number of reasons.
- Increased need to urinate during the night
- Baby's kicking can awaken the mother
- Nausea and/or heartburn
- Leg cramps and restless legs syndrome
- Discomfort in many sleeping positions, especially in the third trimester
Most, if not all, of these symptoms associated with pregnancy will stop once the baby is delivered. But it is after delivery, of course, when the real sleep deprivation begins, at least for a while. The best treatments for sleep-disruptive nightly feedings are frequent naps and lots of helping hands.Even with help, caring for a newborn is a stressful time. Find out on the next page how stress can trigger insomnia.
For more information on how to get a good night's sleep, see: