ANN ARBOR (AP) – Women generally don’t get enough sleep, says a University of Michigan specialist.

For most women, the problem is poor sleep hygiene, such as not relaxing before bedtime. But other women may suffer serious sleep disorders, such as apnea.

“Sleep problems are pretty common in women,” said Beth Malow, an associate professor of neurology and director of the General Clinical Research Center Sleep Program at the University Health System.

“I think as women get older, they have more problems with their sleep. And, at various times in a woman’s life, whether it’s when a woman starts menstruation, gets pregnant, or begins menopause, there are differences in sleep,” she said in a recent statement.

National Sleep Foundation figures show nearly 40 million American men and women suffer from sleep disorders, but more women are affected.

Not getting enough sleep can result in daytime sleepiness, increased accidents, lapses in concentration and health problems.

Insomnia, which makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, is the most common sleep disorder in women. A sleep foundation poll shows 53 percent of women aged 30 to 60 have trouble sleeping often or always. It’s often cyclical, Malow said.

“For a few nights, you don’t sleep well, so you take a nap and that interferes with sleep at night. Then you might start using caffeine to stay awake at night and that keeps you up. And then you might start looking at the clock every hour and not able to fall asleep because you start conditioning yourself not to sleep,” she said.

Malow said treatments she prefers are behavioral techniques that involve muscle relaxation, combined with some medication.

“For example, I tell patients to recite a mantra or think of an image like a beach and waves coming in and really focus on it,” she said. “The idea is to distract yourself and relax your body so that you’re not thinking about your worries of the day.”

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