Insomnia? Sleep Experts Are Sharing These Tips for Women to Combat Sleep Problems Once and for All

The National Sleep Foundation reports that 48 percent of Americans have occasional insomnia and 22 percent have insomnia almost every night.

Sleep problems also affect women more than men.

Forty-three percent of women say that sleepiness interferes with their daily life, and 60 percent report having a good night's rest just a few days each week.

Having seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended as the healthy average number of hours per night, and studies show that insufficient sleep can cause cognitive decline. Sleep problems are also associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, hypertension, and even deaths from car accidents.

Katherine M. Sharkey, a sleep researcher at Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said that women often lack sleep the most three to six days before their period and that the most trying times for sleep problems are during pregnancy and menopause.

At age 40, most women experience perimenopause, where the ovaries slow their production of hormones like progesterone and estrogen, which help induce sleep. When full blown menopause happens, hot flashes caused by hormone fluctuations make falling back asleep after an episode extremely difficult.

"People run around all day from appointment to appointment, and then approach bedtime like they're sliding into third base," Sharkey tells Martha Stewart’s website. "But falling asleep is not like hitting a switch. People need to allow themselves a transitional period before bed."

Here are the tips to help you beat insomnia and get into a better sleeping pattern:

1. Create an hour of downtime before bed without stimulating or stressful activity. You could take a stroll, have a bath, meditate or come up with your own down time activity, but by carving out this time, you will begin to engage in a healthy mental routine.

2. Avoid TV and electronics. Studies show that screen lights can suppress the body's production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. If you feel a need to watch TV, just don't watch something too stimulating and keep the brightness low. Also, avoid having your cell phone next to you while you sleep.

3. Cut off caffeine by noon and don't drink alcohol three hours prior to bed.

4. Exercise earlier in the day.

5. Don’t force yourself to sleep. "Some patients try to combat insomnia by simply going to bed earlier," Sharkey said. "But what happens is they end up spending more hours awake in bed and sacrificing deeper, better sleep."

6. Create a dark, quiet room. Blackout shades, white-noise machines and earplugs can help, Martha Stewart's site reports.

7. A cooler room is better for sleeping.

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