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Why Women Suffer From Insomnia More Often Than Men (And Ways To Help!)

Why Women Suffer From Insomnia More Often Than Men (And Ways To Help!)

Men lose weight faster and easier than women, they don’t ever have to experience pregnancy hormones, the pain of childbirth or the craziness of menopause, and they need less sleep than women do. As if these statements aren’t enough, scientists also know that women are far more likely to suffer from insomnia than men.

In fact, when it comes to sleep disorders and disturbances, women beat men in every category except one – sleep apnea. At least we don’t have to sleep with a loud machine strapped to us, but at this point, there are a lot of women out there who would gladly put up with a sleep apnea machine if it meant they could sleep!

So why are women not sleeping? There can be many causes of insomnia, and some are specific to women. Here are some of the main causes of insomnia in women and what you can do to combat them and get some shut-eye:

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Hormones Are One of the Causes of Insomnia in Women

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    Your monthly cycle, perimenopause and menopause can all cause sleep disturbances and leave you tossing and turning. Not to mention the night sweats! Sometimes the hormones that show up during your period can make you feel more emotional or sensitive than usual and this can keep you awake at night as well.

    What to do: Talk to your doctor about your options for treatment during menopause. It could be a long time before sleep stops evading you and for some, it lasts for many years. If it’s period symptoms that keep you from sleeping well, try taking ibuprofen before bed, sleeping with a fan or applying a hot water bottle if you’re experiencing cramps.

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    Being A Light Sleeper Doesn’t Help Insomnia

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      There’s nothing worse than being woken up in the night and not being able to get back to sleep. Women know this feeling more than anyone because they are typically lighter sleepers than men. Whether its the kids, the dog, the snoring husband or the sounds of traffic outside, women tend to wake up to anything. This does not help when battling insomnia.

      What to do: Unless you have small children, try wearing ear plug at night to block out sounds. If you can’t stand sleeping with ear plugs, you can also try putting a loud fan on or turning on a white noise machine. These types of sounds usually help people to focus in on them instead of other sounds (like your partner’s snoring) and will help you to sleep. If you have reallu good hearing, you may want to get the loudest fan you can find!

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      Pregnancy Can Cause Insomnia

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        The closer you get into your pregnancy, the harder it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s almost like your body is preparing you for the first few months of your baby’s life when sleep will be but a distant memory! Pregant women are tired and need sleep though, and not being able to get comfortable at night is very frustrating. (Especially when you can’t drink a pot of coffee in the morning.)

        What to do: The more pregnant you become, the harder it will be, but you can still try! Get another pillow or two so you can put one under your belly and behind your back for added support if you need it. If you have room, you can also try investing in a larger bed, because you will be grateful for the extra space as the baby continues to grow. You may also benefit from a fan at night when hot flashes start kicking in. These tips may or may not continue to work as you grow, so if you ever have the opporunity to nap, always, always take it, because you never know what the next night will bring with it!

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        Your Lifestyle May be the Culprit

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          “A woman’s job is never done.” This cliche is all too true for so many women. Between your, kids, work, spouse and home, the day always seems to end with a list of things you haven’t been able to get to. While men seem to be able to forget about a to-do list, and drift off easily at night, women have a much harder time going to sleep with things left undone. When you are this busy, it is extra hard for your brain to relax at night and allow sleep to take over. When you lay your head on your pillow at night, your mind should not be going a hundred miles an hour!

          What to do: Keep bedtime sacred and start winding down for the night at least an hour before you’d like to be asleep. If there are things on your mind, write them down before you get in bed. This signals your brain that it will be taken care of and it might actually let you sleep for a change!

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          Last Updated on January 15, 2021

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

          Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

          Posture

          First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

          • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
          • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
          • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
          • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

          All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

          Facial Expressions

          Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

          • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
          • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
          • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

          If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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          1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

          A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

          The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

          This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

          2. Relax Your Face

          New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

          The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

          To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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          3. Improve Your Eye Contact

          Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

          The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

          To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

          3. Smile More

          There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

          Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

          4. Hand Gestures

          Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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          It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

          5. Enhance Your Handshake

          In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

          “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

          It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

          6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

          As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

          Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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          Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

          Final Takeaways

          Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

          If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

          More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

          Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

          Reference

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