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Simple Steps Help Sleepless Women Slumber

Coffee, cigarettes and a meal before bedtime are all no-nos, experts warn

MONDAY, Jan. 30, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Fluctuations in hormones mean women are more prone to missing out on a good night's sleep than men are.

In fact, studies show that women are up to 50 percent more likely to suffer from insomnia than their male peers.

However, simple changes in daily and nightly habits may help improve a woman's sleep, according to experts writing in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.

Some suggestions:

  • Limit caffeine consumption. Along with coffee, tea and sodas, caffeine is found in chocolate and in medications used to treat headaches, colds and sinus congestion.
  • Avoid nicotine, which impairs the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Don't drink before bedtime. Having just one or two alcoholic drinks within a few hours of going to bed can disrupt sleep and lead to more frequent awakening in the latter half of the night.
  • Get active. Lack of physical activity during the day is associated with increased sleep problems. But don't exercise too close to bedtime because that can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Eating too much close to bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Be careful with daytime naps, which can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you do need a nap during the day, keep it under 30 minutes.
  • If self-treatment strategies to improve sleep don't help, talk to your doctor. Sleep difficulties can be related to a number of medical conditions.

More information

The U.S. National Sleep Foundation has more about women and sleep.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Jan. 20, 2006
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