Sleep Problems Women Have After 50
Many women 50 and over have a real problem they’re dealing with frequently: they can’t sleep. Or maybe they can’t fall asleep.
Or perhaps their biggest issue is staying asleep. But one thing is sure: they’re tired and want to do something about it.
Sleep problems are common in general. Then they become more common as we age. To top it all off, women tend to have more sleep issues than men.
So women in their 50s and beyond are often left with sleepless nights, and there are so many reasons why this happens.
SO I’m going to tell you about them, and show you what you can do about them.
How Much Sleep Should Women Over 50 Get Each Night?
Before we talk about sleep problems, let’s make sure we are all on the same page as what counts as a good night’s sleep.
The Sleep Foundation recommends that women between the ages of 26 and 64 aim for between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. For those 65 and older, the goal should be 7 to 8 hours.
Of course, it’s not just hours but quality of hours that really makes a difference. If you get 7 hours spread out over 4 small sections, you will not be as rested as a solid 7 hours.
10 Common Sleep Problems In Women Over 50
Here are some of the most common reasons women 50 and over are struggling to get a full night’s sleep every night. I have paired each sleep problem with a few sleep solutions.
1. Menopause-Related Insomnia
One of the common side effects of menopause is insomnia. And there are so many reasons why.
The dropping hormones can lead to sleep disturbance. Studies have shown that estrogen replacement can help women with sleep troubles by lessening the amount of times they wake up in the middle of the night. And lowered progesterone has been shown to negatively affect a woman’s sleep cycle.
Plus, all the uncomfortable menopausal symptoms can make sleeping harder too.
How To Fix It: Hormonal replacement therapies are controversial as they can have some pretty negative side effects. There are some natural options like a natural progesterone cream or phytoestrogen foods. Talk to your doctor to help you make the best decision.
2. Hot Flash Wake Up Calls
I know we just talked all about menopause, but this particular menopause symptom affects sleep so tremendously, I felt it deserved a section of its own.
Hot flashes tend to hit women more at night than during the day. And they can ruin your night’s sleep. When you wake up overly heated and dripping in sweat, it can take a long time to calm back down enough to get some sleep.
How To Fix It: Try a natural hot flash supplement like Eu Natural’s Staying Cool Hot Flashes & Menopause Relief. Then sleep only with a sheet, wear cool pajamas, install an overhead fan or place an oscillating fan right by your bed, keep a glass of water on your bedside table, and place a lunch box with ice packs and wet washcloths right next to you – if you have a hot flash, you can quickly wipe away the sweat and cool yourself down at the same time.
3. Sleep Cycle Issues/Melatonin Drop
Melatonin is a chemical in our brains that helps regulate our sleep cycle (also known as our circadian rhythm.) It’s light sensitive. So when it gets dark out, melatonin tells our bodies it’s time for sleeping. When it’s light out, melatonin tells our bodies it’s time for waking.
As we age, melatonin production decreases. So our natural cycles get all messed up.
How To Fix It: This one is simple: take a natural sleep aid with melatonin in it. Eu Natural has an all-natural sleep aid that combines melatonin with other sleepy herbs, vitamins, and minerals.
4. Potty Breaks/Nocturia
It’s fairly normal for somebody to have to get up once in the middle of the night to use the bathroom – especially if you had a glass of water before bed. But any more than one potty break in the middle of the night is called nocturia.
And older people are considerably more prone to this frustrating problem. Somewhere around 2/3 of people between 55 and 84 experience nocturia at least a few nights a week.
This is largely due to three issues:
- Bladders can’t hold as much as they used to
- The hormone that helps you hold it through the night is not produced as much in late years
- The older you get, the more chances you have of developing other medical conditions that cause you to urinate more frequently
How To Fix It: Drink lots of water throughout the day, but then stop (or greatly limit) your water intake a couple hours before bed. Also limit caffeine or alcohol, as they can make you urinate more. Practice kegel exercises. Talk to your doctor if you are having too much trouble.
5. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can appear in anybody of any age. But the risk climbs the older you get. And for women in particular – the lack of reproductive hormones after menopause can increase your sleep apnea risk even more.
In the best case scenario, sleep apnea will harm your sleep. In the worst case scenario, it can harm your health. So if you think it may be an issue – it is time to talk to your doctor.
How To Fix It: Visit your doctor and talk about treatment options
Another sleep disturbance in later life is snoring. Just like sleep apnea, anybody of any age can be a big snorer. But it definitely gets worse with age. There are lots of reasons why:
- It could actually be sleep apnea
- It could be weight gain
- It could be muscle tone decrease
- It could be hormonal changes
Also, if you sleep with a partner, chances are one or both of you will be dealing with this snoring. So if you’re not keeping yourself up with snoring, his or her snoring may be doing it.
How To Fix It: You (or your partner) can try nasal strips. There are also sprays and even pillows designed just for snorting. Weight loss can often help too. If it continues, visit the doctor.
7. Restless Leg Syndrome
Here is another sleep problem that can come at any age, but becomes more of an issue with age. Unfortunately, it is also more common among women.
Restless leg syndrome often makes you feel like you need to move your legs, but it can also make you feel like your legs are moving even when you’re not trying to move them. It can hurt, it can itch, and it can tingle.
These sensations can make it really hard to fall asleep. Experts recommend getting up if the feeling comes as you’re trying to sleep. Move around and do something else for a while. Try to go back to bed once the feeling goes away.
How To Fix It: Visit your doctor and talk about treatment options. Sometimes iron supplementation can help. Get massages and avoid caffeine.
8. Chronic Health Issues
This is a simple fact of life: as we age, more health problems pop up. Many of these chronic health issues can cause sleep troubles.
There are so many different types of health problems that could harm your sleep, but here are a few common ones that can come with age.
- Heart disease
- Chronic pain
- Parkinson’s disease
How To Fix It: Visit your doctor and talk about treatment options
9. Weight Gain
Weight gain is more common as we get older – and it also happens to be a common symptom of menopause.
There is definitely a connection between obesity and sleep disorders. But weight gain in general can make it harder for you to sleep as well. And studies show that losing the weight improves your overall sleep.
How To Fix It: You need to be consistently exercising. The CDC recommends older adults get at least 5 hours of moderate aerobic activity every week, as well as 2 strength-training sessions. Changing up your diet is important too. Focus on whole foods like produce and lean meats.
10. Mental Health Conditions
Remember how fragile your emotions were during puberty? Or during PMS? Maybe you were extremely depressed, or overly stressed, or frustratingly irritable. This is all due to hormone fluctuations. So menopause brings the same exact thing.
While we normally talk about “mood swings,” we don’t always talk about how anxiety and depression are more common during this time of life too.
Both anxiety and depression mess with your sleep. Big time.
Chronic sleep problems plague around 10% to 18% of the general population. But for those with psychiatric conditions, that number jumps to between 50% and 80%. Insomnia is the most common of these sleep disorders, but mental health can bring about all sorts of sleep disturbances.
How To Fix It: Find a therapist to talk to. Engage in de-stressing activities daily (meditation, yoga, gardening, reading, etc.). Make sure to exercise regularly, and give up alcohol, nicotine, and illicit drugs.
Know When It’s Time To Visit Your Doctor
While many of the sleep disturbances women in their 50s or older will face are natural and helped by the small fixes I mentioned, you should also see your doctor. You may have another medical reason for your lack of sleep.
Your doctor can run full sleep tests and a checkup to rule out anything else affecting your sleep cycle.
Sleeping Well After 50
Yes, getting a good night’s sleep when you are an older woman is not as easy as it used to be. But that in no way means it is impossible!
If you are dealing with any of these problems, start my “how to fix it” solutions right away. Start including an all-natural sleep aid. Then head to your doctor for further instructions and tests.
Read Next: 14 Ways To Sleep Better Naturally