This may not come as a big surprise, but women don’t get as much sleep as men. Some women are getting less than six hours of sleep a night. Others are plagued by chronic insomnia.
Being unable to get at least eight hours of sleep a night is more than just annoying, it can have serious health implications. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a number of conditions:
- A decrease in immune function.
- An increase in high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.
- A link to weight gain as lack of sleep causes the body to process carbohydrates differently and alters hormone release.
- An increase in stress and irritability as well a decrease in concentration.
- A decrease in sex drive.
- People with anxiety and depression are more likely to get six hours of sleep or less.
- Lack of sleep over an extended period can lead to a loss in collagen in the skin, causing it to prematurely age.
The reasons women don’t get enough sleep are varied but appears to be linked to our modern society as well as our role as caregivers.
- Women are increasingly working outside the home then coming home to tend to children, housework and other family obligations.
- Women must wake up to breastfeed during the night.
- Women are more likely than men to not only hear a child crying during the night but to get up and tend to that child.
- Pregnancy and menopause can disrupt sleeping patterns.
- Prescriptions drugs, pain and some medical conditions can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
So why do we need a good night’s rest? The body depends on sleep to keep us healthy.
- Getting enough sleep allows the body to fight disease and boosts the immune system.
- Getting enough sleep allows the brain to retain information it has learned.
- Being well rested lowers the risk of accidents and bad decisions caused by the inability to concentrate.
- People who are well rested also tend to be more creative.
Here are a few ways to get some sleep
1. Change what you eat
Don’t drink caffeine after 2 p.m in the afternoon or a lot of fluids before bed. If you like having wine with dinner, be sure to drink it early enough in the night so the affects from the alcohol wears off before bed.
Avoid eating a meal too close to bedtime as a full stomach will disrupt your sleep. Conversely and empty stomach may also keep you up at night.
2. Set a schedule
Have set times of going to sleep at night and waking in the morning.
If you enjoy a hot shower or a soak in the bathtub before bed, you may want to bathe earlier in the evening. Raising your body’s temperature can make it harder to get to sleep.
If stress is keeping you from sleeping, try a little relaxing yoga before you go to sleep.
3. Set boundaries
Disconnect yourself from technology as least an hour before bedtime. Turn off your computer and cell phone. Investing in an alarm clock will give you added reason to keep your phone out of your reach.
4. Set the mood
Set the mood for sleep by ensuring your bedroom is dark and has a comfortable temperature.
5. Avoid bright lights before bed
The dimming of light signals your body it’s time to get ready for sleep, and a dark bedroom ensures your body will produce melatonin.
Keep a nightlight in the bathroom so you won’t be tempted to turn on the light and expose yourself to bright lights.
Equally important is keeping your room quiet.
If these tips don’t work and you suffer from an inability to get to sleep or stay asleep, you may want to seek your doctor’s assistance.