Women have higher chances of having insomnia and more problems sustaining sleep than men, especially after menopause.
Sleep, or lack of it, affects your health and wellness. Not having sufficient sleep is likely to impair your thinking, making you more prone to accidents and dampening your mood on a daily basis.
Experiencing too much sleep debt can, in the long run, contribute to problems such as weight gain, dementia, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Also, women need to know that the quality of sleep they get impacts other aspects of health, including pregnancy, menopause, postpartum, aging, and perimenopause.
Addressing the problem of deprived or disturbed sleep is key to tackling health problems. Here we look at why sleep is essential for health and how you can improve it.
How Sleep Patterns Change In Women
Young children have similar sleep patterns, with both girls and boys needing 8 to 10 hours of sleep to ensure optimal health. During puberty, girls diverge, where menstruating girls show a higher chance of developing insomnia compared to boys. It’s not precisely known why; however, it may arise due to slight variations within the circadian rhythm between girls and boys. Besides, girls experience fragmented sleep, often due to hormonal fluctuations occurring during the menstrual cycle.
Adult women continue to experience more insomnia and are more susceptible to sleep disorders. Undiagnosed sleep apnea is a big problem, as about 90% of women do not know they have the condition. Doctors are likely to misdiagnose apnea symptoms in women for anxiety or depression, prescribing them medications that may cause weight gain. The increasing weight further compromises breathing. Besides, women report having sleep problems during perimenopause all through to menopause. Hot flashes are linked to disturbed sleep, often making women wake up during the night.
Importance Of A Good Night’s Sleep
A good night’s sleep is crucial for a woman’s health. If a woman doesn’t have sufficient sleep, her health can be impacted. Here are some reasons why you should ensure you get enough sleep.
Poor sleep has been linked to increased body weight. Women who have short sleep durations are likely to weigh more than those who have adequate sleep. A short sleep duration is considered among the strongest obesity risk factors. The effects of sleep on a woman’s weight may be contributed by many factors, including hormones as well as reduced motivation to exercise. Women who are trying to lose weight need to ensure that they get adequate sleep.
While racking up eight hours of sleep may not result in losing pounds by itself, it can help the body from packing on the pounds. When you do not have enough sleep, the body releases ghrelin, the hormone that enhances appetite. And you know, increased appetite means you increase your calorie intake. So you may end up gaining more weight.
Also, when you do not have sufficient sleep, the body reduces the production of leptin, the hormone that informs the body you are full. Therefore, you will likely put fewer calories into the body since you are not eating a lot. When you combine these two factors together, you have a dangerous combo to gain weight fast. Additionally, when you have insufficient sleep, you are more stressed, meaning that the body is unable to fight the craving for junk food.
Good Sleep May Enhance Concentration
Sleep helps with numerous aspects of brain function, including cognition, productivity, concentration, and performance. If you are deprived of sleep, you may not be as productive as you should. Also, you may not be able to concentrate on things. Good sleep helps improve problem-solving skills.
Sleep Improves Memory
Although sleep gives the body the rest it requires, the mind is still working. It is processing and consolidating the memories of the day. When you have fewer hours of sleep, you may not process these memories. Consistent sleep of about eight hours a night can help with daytime functioning, such as being able to remain alert and concentrating. You also don’t feel so exhausted during the day, meaning you are able to enhance your productivity.
Good Sleep Increases Athletic Performance
Having a good sleep enhances your athletic performance. Women who don’t get enough sleep have difficulties performing independent activities. They walk slowly and have lower grip strength. Less sleep is also linked to poor exercise performance. It causes functional limitations among older women. Physical performance is not only crucial for weight loss, but it also helps improve your health. If you are not getting sufficient sleep, you may remain inactive, hence adding more weight.
Poor Sleepers Have Increased Risk Of Heart Disease
Sleep quality, as well as duration, may have an impact on many health risk factors. As a result, you may suffer chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Getting a good night’s sleep can help prevent the risk of having chronic diseases among women.
Sleep Impacts Glucose Metabolism
Sleep restriction has been shown to affect blood sugar and reduce insulin sensitivity. People sleeping for no more than six hours per night are likely to have an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes. If you’re losing weight, you may have a setback if you don’t get enough sleep. When insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, is less sensitive, you begin to gain weight.
Poor Sleep Associated With Depression
When you have mental issues like depression, you may experience poor sleep quality as well as sleeping disorders. An estimated 90 percent of individuals struggling with depression often complain about sleep quality. But do people add weight because they have developed depression, or do they get depression because they have excess pounds? Well, it is not known. However, what is known is that depression presents many symptoms likely to worsen obesity, including lack of energy, appetite disturbances, and reduced motivation to do things.
Also, people who have depression may have extra pounds concentrated around the waist. Usually, belly fat is considered a risk factor for developing type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Depression, of course, has its own risk factors, including social isolation, anxiety, suicide, and drug and alcohol addiction. Whichever comes first – obesity or depression- it is a pretty unhealthy combination and a self-reinforcing combo.
Sleep Enhances Immune Function
Loss of sleep tends to impair immune function. If your immune system isn’t functioning correctly, you are susceptible to suffering more diseases. If you often experience colds, getting at least eight hours of sleep a night can help.
Poor Sleep Can Increase Inflammation
Sleep loss may activate undesirable inflammation and cell damage markers. Having poor sleep can lead to long-term inflammation of your digestive tract. This disorder is called inflammatory bowel disease.
How Much Is A Good Night’s Sleep?
The National Sleep Foundation has recommended that adults, including individuals in their 50s, have about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to ensure optimum health. The ideal sleep quantity is likely to vary from one individual to another, with some persons getting by with only 5 to 6 hours. Others may feel practically dysfunctional when they do not have a solid 8 hours of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation does not recommend fewer than 6 hours or above 10 hours.
That being said, the NSF recently included a new category to the sleep recommendation chart following findings that individuals above 65 need less sleep compared to younger adults. Therefore, people who are in their late 50s may feel just as refreshed when they have less shut-eye than they previously needed when younger.
How To Get A Better Sleep
First, ensure you are in sync with your natural sleep-wake cycle. This is one of the crucial strategies for ensuring you sleep better. When you keep your sleep-wake schedule, you are more refreshed and energized than if you have the same sleep hours at different times. Ensure you go to sleep and wake up at the same time each time. It will help the body set its internal clock and enhance the quality of sleep you get.
It would be best if you also control your exposure to light. The melatonin hormone is controlled by light exposure. The hormone helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. The brain tends to secrete more melatonin when it is dark, allowing you to feel sleepy. When melatonin is less (more exposure to light), you are more alert.
Exercising the body during the day also helps ensure better sleep at night. Regular exercises also aid with insomnia, sleep apnea, and increase the number of hours you are in deep, restorative sleep. The more vigorous your exercises, the more powerful benefits of sleep you get. However, even light exercises like walking for about 10 minutes a day can significantly improve sleep quality.
Having a good night’s sleep directly affects your physical and mental health. Unhealthy daytime habits, as well as lifestyle choices, may leave you with inadequate sleep. Hence, you have adverse effects on your brain, mood, heart health, creativity, vitality, immune system, and weight. Fortunately, there are ways you can ensure you get a night of better sleep. Getting adequate rest can help prevent these problems, and that is why sleep is essential for health.