Between demanding jobs, an overabundance of stress, late nights, and an increasingly plugged-in life (put down that iPad Mini, please), it’s no wonder that most of us aren’t getting the proper amount of rest. Making matters worse is the fact that women are biologically programmed not to sleep as well as men, thanks to our good friend (stupid jerkface) progesterone.
According to Dr. Donna Arand, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, when the balance of estrogen and progesterone in your body fluctuates (like during your period, or when you enter menopause), it can affect how well you sleep.
"When progesterone is low, you might experience insomina because progesterone is also used as a precursor to chemicals that induce sleep, like serotonin," she says. "That just means there are fewer materials to generate the sleep hormone. You may find you have more difficulty falling asleep just before and during your period, when progesterone is at its lowest levels, and that you can fall asleep much more easily just after, when it is at its highest." Just as not every woman's cycle is the same, Dr, Arand says that these levels may not impact every woman in the same way — some women don't see any issues related to their cycles. It's just the luck (or misfortune) of the draw.
In addition to the fact that your body is working against you, it turns out that most of us are actually making it more difficult on ourselves by engaging in a whole host of sleep-depriving activities during our day. We asked Dr. Arand to tell us what mistakes we're making in the bedroom and how we can fix them, pronto. So, pour yourself a warm glass of milk, turn on the white noise machine, snuggle under the covers, and read on to learn the secrets of slumber.
Illustrations by Ammiel Mendoza