Gen-X Women Can’t Sleep

We hear so much about the aging Baby Boomer generation that is exploding the over-65 proportion of the population, but what’s not talked about as often is the Gen-X women who recently started turning 50, and are facing burnout. 

According to a current Everyday Health post, Generation X females, born between 1965 and 1980, are increasingly experiencing a crisis of well-being.  Pulled in so many directions; raising children, demanding careers, bills, aging parents, marriage, and divorce, many middle-aged women are just bone tired.  If all that wasn’t enough, Gen X women are likely entering perimenopause – all while working from home and supervising online school during a global pandemic.  Most are still doing the lion’s share of the housework too.

Among women around this age, many are commiserating (at 3:30 a.m. on Facebook) about their inability to get a good night’s rest.  Now their children are older, careers are well established, and there is more time for self-care, middle age should be a time that permits at the least a full night’s sleep.  But fluctuating hormones, stress, and worry are robbing many women of the one thing they might need more than anything else – restorative sleep

The pressures to stay slim and attractive, nail their chosen careers, raise independent, empathetic children and cook healthy meals for their families – all while keeping a clean and beautiful home and garden, is full-out exhausting.  Somewhere mixed up in the belief that women of this generation could have it all, they themselves wound up feeling like failures.  The frustration and unhappiness of not living up to their own expectations are causing many Gen-X women to feel not only discouraged but downright depressed. 

Not all Gen-X women are in the same boat. Some had their children earlier and they are now off to college and careers, others focused on career first and had children later, and others chose not to have children or it wasn’t in the cards.  Some have had long, solid marriages while many are single or divorced.  There are so many versions of the Gen-X woman, it is beyond time to scrap the “you can have it all” message drilled into the heads of 40 and 50-something women and let go of the perfect picture that exists only in the imagination and is rarely even close to reality. 

In addition, the comparison and competition between women in their 40s and 50s can be harsh.  Are you keeping your marriage strong and sexy?  Have you saved enough to retire comfortably?  Are your children going to be successful, happy adults?  With more debt, higher and higher living expenses and more expectations for what success looks like, Gen-Xers are in a pressure-cooker. 

What’s the answer?

Author of the book Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, Ada Calhoun told Everday Health that her personal antidote for all this stress is to focus on just a few of the most important things in her life.  Her relationships are at the forefront  – marriage, children and close friendships.   Letting go of the idea of perfection has helped Calhoun feel better and get a good night’s sleep without the help of prescription medication. 

Read more about sleep problems and menopause by following this link to the National Institute on Aging’s Health Information page from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.