Insomnia can affect your mood, concentration, and fine motor skills, which makes sleep important for day-to-day safety. Good sleep hygiene is crucial to a restful night’s sleep.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. Although the symptoms are often similar across sex and gender, your sex assigned at birth can still influence your individual experience with insomnia.
Depression, for example, often occurs alongside insomnia. And according to UCLA Health, men are more likely to keep feelings of depression to themselves and avoid seeking professional help.
The same can be said for other forms of medical care, too. Cisgender men and others assigned male at birth (AMAB) are also
A consistent lack of high quality sleep can increase your risk of other health conditions, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Both conditions are already more common in AMAB individuals, and your risk may be further compounded by other factors.
Insomnia can also increase your risk of heart disease — the
Sex is determined by chromosomes, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus. Learn more about sex and gender.
Insomnia has many different triggers. A hectic work schedule, a new baby, or even a promotion could disturb your sleep schedule and knock you off your game.
Some of your daily habits may even be counterproductive to healthy sleep hygiene. Long afternoon naps, caffeine or alcohol before bed, and an overall irregular sleep schedule can all affect your sleep quality.
Other sleep disorders can also contribute to insomnia. Obstructive sleep apnea and narcolepsy are common among cisgender men and other AMAB individuals, increasing your risk of insomnia.
According to UCLA Health, men are also more likely to experience delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). With DSPS, your body’s internal clock is disrupted, preventing you from falling asleep even when you’re exhausted.
Some risk factors are outside of your control. This includes your sex assigned at birth, age, and genetics.
People assigned female at birth (AFAB) are more likely to experience insomnia, and your overall risk for insomnia increases with age. You may also be predisposed to insomnia if it runs in your family.
A variety of underlying health conditions can also increase your risk, including:
- stress and anxiety
- restless leg syndrome
- chronic pain
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- gastroesophageal reflux disease
- heart disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Certain medications can also interfere with your sleep, including:
- pain relievers and other medications containing caffeine
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- theophylline, albuterol, and other asthma medications
- prednisone and other steroids
Many people — particularly men — are unaware that they’re experiencing insomnia. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you frequently:
- have trouble falling asleep
- wake up throughout the night or wake up too early
- still feel tired after sleeping
- have difficulty concentrating during the day or feel irritable because you’re tired
Your clinician will ask about your symptoms, your sleep-wake patterns, and other sleep-related questions to better understand what you’re experiencing.
They may also perform a physical exam or recommend a blood test to help determine if another condition is causing your symptoms.
Sometimes, they may ask you to keep a sleep diary and bring it to your next appointment.
Most cases of short-term insomnia can be cured with good sleep hygiene. For example:
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol and caffeine for at least 6 hours before bed can help encourage sleep.
- If you like to work out in the evening, be sure to complete any high intensity exercise 1-2 hours before bed.
- The blue light in electronics activates the brain, so turn off phones, tablets, and other electronics about an hour before bed.
- Don’t sleep in if you’ve had a restless night. Get up and try to keep on your schedule.
- Avoiding long naps during the day can help you prepare for a good night’s sleep.
If you don’t notice any improvement within a couple of weeks, it may be time to consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.
They may be able to recommend an over-the-counter sleep aid or, in more severe cases, prescribe medication to help you sleep. Although most sleep aids are only meant to be used for 2-3 weeks at a time, trazodone can be safely used long-term.
Cognitive behavior therapy can also help you improve your relationship with sleep.
Insomnia can negatively affect your mood, your ability to concentrate, and your motor skills. The body needs rest to maintain good health.
Make sleep a priority by practicing good sleep hygiene. Setting a schedule, powering down any devices an hour before bedtime, and creating a nighttime ritual can help signal to your brain that it’s time for bed.
Catasha Gordon is a sexuality educator from Spencer, Oklahoma. She’s the owner and founder of Expression Over Repression, a company built around sexual expression and knowledge. You can typically find her creating sex education materials or building some kinky hardware in a fresh set of coffin nails. She enjoys catfish (tail on), gardening, eating off her husband’s plate, and Beyoncé. Follow her everywhere.