Why Women Can’t Sleep

Did you know that being female is a risk factor for insomnia? It’s not fair, but it’s also not inevitable. Here’s how to strike back and sleep well.

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What can I do?

  • Create a healthy routine that includes melatonin-rich and sleep-promoting foods. Click here to see Dr. Oz’s cheat sheet of foods that help you snooze.
  • Try taking a melatonin supplement. You don’t need more than .5 milligrams, and you should take it about 2 hours before bed. Melatonin works like pulling the blinds in your bedroom – it signals to your body that the sun has gone away and it’s time to prepare for sleep.
  • Treat yourself to a pair (or 2) of lightweight pajamas and sheets that will wick moisture away from your skin and dry quickly.
  • Eat a plant-based, high-fiber, low-fat diet, which has been shown to lower estrogen levels and control hot flashes. The sooner you start eating that way (even in your 20s), the better control you will have over hot flashes later. But it’s never too late to start.
  • Take 40 milligrams of black cohosh (an herbal supplement) daily. It has been shown to help women weather menopause better.
  • Eat well and exercise to prevent or eliminate postmenopausal weight gain.
  • Try special pillows designed to help keep your airway open during sleep and eliminate snoring. 

If you experience symptoms of sleep apnea, including chronic, severe snoring, often accompanied by gasping, choking, or daytime sleepiness, find a sleep specialist in your area who can prescribe specific treatments such as a CPAP machine, which keeps your airway open during sleep.