At one time or another, we all have sleep problems: difficulty falling asleep, or waking up frequently during the night or too early in the morning. But continued sleep deprivation is a serious concern.
Dr. Meir Kryger, author of Can't Sleep, Can't Stay Awake: A Woman's Guide to Sleep Disorders joined Balance Television host Dr. Marla Shapiro to talk about sleep.
"Women have sleep problems that men cannot...even begin to understand," Kryger said. "Part of it is related to the biology of women. In women there are many problems that are related to the differences in hormonal status -- menstruation, pregnancy, menopause -- and these are things that men cannot even imagine."
For more about the effects of a woman's life cycle on sleep, read Sleep problems and the female life cycle.
The two general and most common sleeping problems that Kryger runs into are individuals who have trouble sleeping and those who can't stay awake.
Diagnosing a sleep problem
Basically what you want to do when you have a sleeping problem, Kryger says, is decide whether the problem is interfering with your daytime function. Take the following situations and rank them from 0-3, with 3 meaning you regularly fall asleep during that activity.
• Reading and watching TV
• Sitting and talking
• At your desk at work
• Stopped in traffic
If you fall asleep watching television, it may not seem like a big deal, Kryger said. But it may mean you're also dozing at the movie theatre or other public performances, which isn't normal. And falling asleep during the operation of a motor vehicle is a huge deal. Even a 1 in that category means you shouldn't be driving.
That type of exhaustion during the day can be the sign of a more severe sleep problem, such as sleep apnea.
Take the results of your survey to your doctor. They will help you accurately describe exactly how severe the problem is, exactly when it's happening and how it's impacting your daily life. From there, a decision can be made as to whether or not you require further testing.