By Janice Graham
As you hit one of those big birthdays, you probably worry more about new
wrinkles than about less visible body parts — like your heart. But recent
research has found that each decade of your life is a crossroads, with new
health concerns to worry about. What's more, you need to be aware of these
issues — because your doctor may not be. "Many physicians fail to recognize how
much a woman's risk factors for heart disease evolve over her lifetime," says
"Where you are in your lifestyle has an affect on how much sleep you get,"
says Mark Rosekind, PhD, a board member of the National Sleep Foundation
Throw biology into the mix -- like a woman's menstrual cycle -- and insomnia
becomes even more common. Sleep problems can make it even harder to get the
recommended 7.5 to 8 hours of shut-eye necessary to perform your best.
But you don't need to lose sleep over the fact that you're losing sleep! To
understand insomnia, learn what's keeping you up at night. According to experts
from the National Sleep Foundation, here are the most common reasons why you
may be burning the candle at both ends.
Insomnia and Your Lifestyle
According to a "Sleep in America" poll released by the NSF in March
2007, if you're a single working woman you probably spend the least amount of
time in bed -- sometimes fewer than six hours a night. And if you're like many
women in the survey, you probably also wake up feeling tired at least a few
days of every week.
One of the primary reasons you aren't sleeping? It could be something as
simple as spending a bit too much time socializing with friends instead of
hitting the sheets earlier in the evening. When this is the case, the solution
involves a little self-discipline -- force yourself to hit the hay earlier a
few nights a week, and you're likely to feel better overall, says Rosekind.
Stay-at-moms aren't much better off, however. The NSF survey found that
three-quarters of the women in this category experience symptoms of insomnia.
What's keeping moms up at night? It could be the kids -- worse, the dog --
bunking in with you. Or maybe it's a lack of quiet leisure activities to help
you unwind at the end of the day. If your evening is spent primarily on chores
or kids' activities, that could lead to sleep problems.
Last but not least is the Wonder Woman -- and you know who you are. Married,
with school-aged children and working full time, if you fall into this group
it's almost a sure bet you aren't getting enough sleep, says Rosekind, who is
also president and founder of Alertness Solutions. These women, he says, are
usually getting fewer than six hours a night.
In addition to being overloaded with work and family obligations, you may
not have enough time to exercise or relax -- or have sex -- which can help a
girl when the sun goes down. Often, the solution here is as simple as making
just a little more time for yourself at the end of every day.