A Woman’s Guide to Better Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health and well-being. The amount of sleep you get is particularly crucial if you are a woman. New studies indicate the traditional recommendation of eight hours is not enough. If you are a woman aged 50 or older, you will likely live longer than men in your age group. A longer lifespan presents additional challenges to staying healthy, and as a woman, if you don’t get enough quality sleep, it will negatively affect your health.
Gender-Specific Sleep Needs
Biological differences between men and women play a role in sleep needs. Neurological research has concluded that women need more than eight hours of sleep each night to be well-rested. The general reason is that the female brain is more active than the male brain and requires more rest to recover and repair itself.
While you sleep, many things are happening within your body and brain, such as recovery and repair from daily exertion. Compounds are synthesized for energy while cells and organs get replenished. The Mayo Clinic reports that lack of sleep increases the risk of daytime sleepiness, weight gain, heart disease, and, reportedly, forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Lack of Sleep Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is thought to be caused by an excess of amyloids (aggregates of proteins) in the brain. As we go into a deep sleep, these proteins get cleared from the brain. There is a connection between the quality and quantity of a person’s sleep and a healthy brain. Surveys show that 40% of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep per night. The overall average amount of time spent sleeping for all American adults is 6.9 hours. Lack of sleep for women has disastrous consequences for their health. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
Benefits of Proper Sleep for Women
The proper amount and quality of sleep decrease stress levels, which benefits cardiovascular health. Good sleep affords women better attention capabilities and memory function, and may increase creativity. Sleep also helps the body maintain a healthy weight since women with proper rest lose more fat, provided they are eating healthy foods. Plenty of sleep also supports a woman’s skin and overall appearance. The old saying, “beauty rest,” is a real thing.
Improving Quality of Sleep for Women
There are some things that women can do to improve the quality of their sleep. Exercising daily is key to proper rest. Turning off the television and putting away cell phones at least one hour before bedtime allows your brain to wind down to a more restful state and get away from the blue light emissions that can affect sleep quality. Avoid alcohol and coffee before sleeping and develop a healthy bedtime routine. Have a set time for lights out and stick with it. Make sure your mattress and pillow suit your sleep needs.
Many women may not know that they need more sleep than men or feel guilty if they take the time to sleep more. However, a well-rested woman can be more productive during her day than a tired one and has a much better chance of being healthy and fighting disease. To have a successful and enjoyable life in your later years, make it a priority to get enough sleep.
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