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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 August 12, 2020

          When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

          When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

          Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

          In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

          How to Listen to Your Gut

          The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

          Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

          1. Tune Into Your Body

          Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

          However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

          Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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          Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

          In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

          2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

          Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

          There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

          3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

          Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

          As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

          This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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          4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

          As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

          Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

          5. Challenge Your Assumptions

          When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

          In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

          A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

          6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

          Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

          There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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          Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

          Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

          Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

          We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

          The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

          We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

          7. Trust Yourself

          It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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          Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

          If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

          The Bottom Line

          The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

          Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

          More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

          Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
          [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
          [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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