For many women nowadays sleep often takes a back seat and is at the end of the list of priorities; this isn’t a good way to be – we need to start thinking differently about sleep and its importance in maintaining health and well-being. This is a point championed by the highly successful entrepreneur, Arianne Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post.
In a Telegraph article¹, she explains “If you’re not feeling well, you aren’t going to be as effective, or as creative, or as productive.” Arianne also said “New data shows that women in stressful, successful jobs have a 40 percent greater chance of heart attacks and heart disease and 60 percent greater incidence of diabetes”.
She goes on to explain how exhaustion led to her fainting at work and injuring herself, this prompted her to work on sleeping for 7-8 hours per night and the results were positive “I have never been more creative, more productive, less reactive” she said.
Arianne devised the Huffington Sleep Challenge in which she challenged women to get a good night’s sleep every night for a month.
Arianne’s friend, Cindi Leive, editor of US Glamour, took part in the challenge, she was interviewed by Ruby Warrington in the Times and said “women tend to carry more of a load than men and that when something has to give, it’s sleep. Doing a good job in the office and being a good mum are not seen as optional. Sleep is.”
She reported positive results from taking part in the sleep challenge “improved performance at work, a better sense of wellbeing, more enthusiasm for almost everything” and some weight loss.
Why is sleep more important for women?
But why is it more important for women, than it is for men, to get a good night’s sleep? The American National Sleep Foundation² explain that hormones have a significant impact on a female’s quality of sleep, so we can blame horomes but add to this the other more commonly known factors that affect sleep such as stress and it’s easier to understand why females have much lesser chance of getting a refreshing sleep.
In an article published in the Daily Mail, Dr. Jim Horne, Britain’s leading expert in sleep science, explained that on average women need twenty more minutes of sleep than men. The researcher pointed out that women tend to multi-task and use more of their actual brain than men, leading to a greater need for sleep. Essentially, the more you use your brain during the day, the more it needs to rest while asleep.
How does lack of sleep affect women?
Edward Suarez, an associate professor at Duke University in North Carolina reported findings of a study carried out by the university, in The Telegraph³. He explains that they found a link between poor sleep in women and “high levels of psychological distress, and greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger”.
Experiencing these negative emotions on a daily basis is not conducive to living and performing your daily tasks and activities well or maintaining your health and well-being.
However, sleeping pills are not the answer, no matter how tempting they may seem as they interfere with the body’s natural rhythms and do not enable the mind and body to be re-trained into better habits. Worse still, a large study published last week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that common over-the-counter and prescription medications used to treat problems such as sleeping difficulties and allergies could mean that users are 50% more likely to develop dementia. Dr Eric Larsen, vice president at Group Health, the co-operative health provider which led the research, told the Today programme: “We found that the people who took …frequent doses over long periods of time had a rather surprising increase in their risk of subsequently developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
5 steps for a sound night’s sleep
I recommend these 5 simple steps to help you get a good night’s sleep and remember – better rest equals more zest!
- Turn off your computer more than 1 hour before you go to sleep, the blue light emitted affects sleep cycles
- Set a bedtime, anything not finished by this time has to wait, sleep needs to be prioritised
- Have a set bedtime ritual that you always follow to help prepare your body and mind for sleep
- Make sure your bedroom is at the correct temperature
- Turn off all electrical devices including Wi-Fi and leave mobile phones out of the bedroom
Contact us to find out more and discover how we can help you to find the right solution to your sleep issues.