Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the topic of sleep is trending in the healthcare world. It’s right up there with – and possibly more of a priority than – diet and exercise.
We’ve always known (and physically experienced) restorative benefits of sleep. The more we’re able to scientifically analyze its benefits – along with lack of sleep and its detriments – the more we’re checking in with patients to ensure they’re prioritizing healthy sleep habits.
Not surprisingly, it turns out that women have more sleep problems than men, mostly due to hormone fluctuations around menstrual cycles, pregnancy and motherhood, menopause, and – of course – the general emotional labor associated with being a nurturer.
Women & Sleep: Are You Giving Your Body the Rest it Requires?
The National Sleep Foundation writes that while, “…people need seven to nine hours each night to function well the next day, we’ve found that the average woman, aged 30-60, sleeps only six hours and forty-one minutes during the workweek.”
Yikes! And that’s not even taking those poor, sleep-deprived new mothers into the equation. Unfortunately, that chronic pattern of sleep loss can have a detrimental effect on your health – both current and future.
It’s More Than “Just” Rest
As we mentioned above, we’re all aware that it’s about “rest,” and our proverbial battery always feels recharged after a good night of sleep or two. From the biochemical standpoint, there’s a whole lot more going on…
It’s a brain cleanser, removing toxic proteins associated with memory loss
This is a newer realization in the scientific world. It turns out that sleep deprivation increases the level of a specific protein, tau, found in Alzheimer’s/dementia tangles. Read the NIH’s post, Sleep Loss Encourages Spread of Toxic Alzheimer’s Protein, for more details.
Hormone balance relies on sleep
The thyroid, pituitary gland, and other hormone regulators/manufacturers use sleepy time to recalibrate and adjust themselves. Better sleep directly translates to better hormone balance.
This also means sleep-deprived women are more prone to infertility diagnoses, and that a well-rested woman is more likely to have a positive relationship with her libido.
There is an anti-inflammatory effect
A sleep-deprived body is an agitated body, and that leads to inflammation. Once the body is in a state of inflammation, you experience all types of side effects, including a suppressed immune system, fatigue, and a triggering or worsening of latent health conditions.
We’re always fans of an anti-inflammatory diet, but if you have a hard time getting the sleep you need, focus on a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, and try to minimize sugars, processed foods, alcohol, and saturated fats – all of which contribute to inflammation.
You’ll just plain feel better
Let’s face it, we’re all more cranky, less composed, tired, moody, and stressed out – and we have a harder time being present and focused when we’ve lost sleep. Establishing healthy habits will make you feel better. Period.
Have a Hard Time Getting Good Sleep?
Are you having a hard time sleeping? Some of the most common reasons our patients have a hard time sleeping include:
- Restless leg syndrome (often a sign you waited too long to hit the sack)
- Sleep apnea
- Not establishing a healthy sleep routine (we need a soothing bedtime routine just like sweet babies and young children)
Ready to establish your healthy sleep habits and routines? Click Here. If that doesn’t work, schedule a consultation with us here at Women’s Health Associates, and let’s get you back on track so you can begin having the sweet dreams you deserve – and that your body needs.