Other Sleep Problems
Hormones can also cause sleepless nights. After ovulation, levels of progesterone start off high and then begin to fall. The more quickly levels drop, the more likely you are to have sleep problems.
You may take longer to drift off, have poorer-quality sleep, and feel more lethargic in the phase after ovulation up to the start of your period. The cramps and tender breasts of menstruation can also make you too uncomfortable to sleep well.
Perhaps most frustrating of all is that sometimes we just can't nod off, despite the fact that we're desperate for sleep. Here are some strategies for dozing off:
- Practice good timing. To help prevent insomnia, avoid eating heavy meals right before bed, don't do stressful tasks at night, don't exercise in the two or three hours before sleep (although early in the day is beneficial), and avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime. A glass of warm milk may help -- warming the milk releases the tryptophan, which helps some people sleep.
- Set the mood. Your bedroom should be a quiet, dark, temperate haven to induce sleep. Use light-blocking window shades, turn a bright alarm clock away from you, and use a white-noise machine if necessary.
- Establish a sleep ritual. Doing the same thing each night before bed, such as reading a book or taking a bath, signals to your body it's time for sleep. Try to make bedtime and wake time the same each day.
- Seek professional help. Tell your doctor about any sleep difficulties you're having. Some problems, such as insomnia, may be a symptom of a physical or emotional illness.
If you're a member of the walking weary because you're a new parent, just remember that the grueling nights do come to an end. Pretty soon, you'll start vaguely recalling that enjoyable horizontal activity.
Reviewed 11/02 by Elizabeth Stein, CNM
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.