Rest and relaxation may be a lost cause for many of us. I would love the chance to sink below the bubbles of a warm bath–heck–I’d just like a 15 minute hot shower without an interruption. I know I’m not alone in this—and no matter what your escape may be, it can be hard to find the time or the opportunity to unwind at the end of a hard day. You may know the feeling –staring at the ceiling for what feels like hours while your partner snores beside you. Many women complain about difficulty sleeping from time to time. For some women, the problem may be mild and only occur in spurts. Other women suffer nightly–tossing and turning without ever finding relief, only to face the day worn out and packing an equally destructive attitude to boot.
Fighting insomnia may be easier than you think if you take a few steps to create an environment that is more conducive to sleep. First, try to stay on the same sleep schedule. It can be tempting to sleep in on the weekends when your alarm clock is taking some time off, but try to stay within an hour or so of your regular rising time, which will allow you to stay on the same sleep patterns.
This may seem obvious, but you may need to eliminate caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and other stimulants from your diet. Many people feel like they simply cannot make it through the day without a boost, but it could be that your body is experiencing dramatic highs and lows as a result of their use, which could ultimately be damaging your health–and your sleep.
Avoid watching television, playing video games, or working in bed. By training your body that the bedroom is for sleeping, you will be less likely to keep yourself awake with the flashing lights of an electronic device.
Beyond the factors that we can change, are the more mysterious ones. In some cases, you may have tried everything to get some much needed rest, but it’s just not coming. I hear many women say that hormonal changes have brought on symptoms of insomnia—it’s very easy to blame everything on hormones, but you won’t be sure until you see a doctor.
In this case, if you suspect that your sleeplessness might be related to a physical problem and not an environmental one, it may be time to visit with Dr. Hessel. Certainly, she isn’t a sleep specialist, but Dr. Hessel sees women regularly who have difficulty getting the rest they need due to another underlying condition. You may never know the cause of your own struggle without a head to toe examination, and the opportunity to talk with someone who may be able to make your days–and your nights–just a little bit better.