It’s a common scenario. A husband and wife go to bed at the same time every night . . . yet while the guy is out like a light with the flick of a switch, the woman tosses and turns for what seems like hours. Sound familiar?
Today’s busy women will hardly be shocked to learn that a staggering 75 percent of all American women experience sleep problems. Whether it’s from not enough sleep
, too much sleep, or unrestful sleep, simply put, women are tired. What’s really troubling is that this exhaustion doesn’t just result in a lack of energy. A woman’s physical, mental, and emotional health
suffers as well.Why is it so difficult for women to get a good night’s sleep?
Sometimes it’s hard to put a finger on the exact cause of sleep problems. A few common complaints among women are:
- Racing thoughts when they turn in for the night.
- Night sweats.
- Lying in bed praying for sleep to come.
- Waking up and not being able to get back to sleep.
- A snoring partner.
- Anxiety or fears about being able to fall asleep in the first place.
It’s easy to assume women are exhausted and edgy at the end of the day because busy careers and caring for children simply wears them down. Also, many women think their low energy levels and lack of concentration is just a natural sign of aging or a poor diet. To be honest, some women have felt run down for so long that they just assume these awful feelings are natural. Not so.The truth is women’s and men’s sleep are not the same.
Believe it or not, when it comes to sleep, women are from Venus and men are from Mars. These differences are physiological. Beginning at birth, females have more slow wave sleep, which occurs during the sleep stages three and four. Slow wave sleep is also the most refreshing and deepest sleep . . . the kind that lets you wake up ready to start the day.
Young girls sleep more soundly than boys, and women will continue to have significant deep sleep when they reach their 30s while men’s deep sleep will start to decline in their 20s. Also men’s sleep systems age more quickly than women.
So why don’t women sleep better than men? Basically it comes down to a few reasons.Hormones and lifestyle wreak havoc on sleep.
Estrogen, which is present in both men and women, increases rapid eye movement (REM) sleep but progesterone, which is the female hormone, causes feelings of fatigue and drowsiness. When menstruation begins, women have a harder time falling asleep and simply don’t sleep well for a few days. After a period of time normal sleep will return.
Also, changes in body temperature make restful sleep more difficult. During ovulation, body temperature rises which minimizes the normal lowering of body temperature that happens when we sleep. During the second half of the menstrual cycle (after ovulation), the natural sleep hormone melatonin is produced in lesser quantities. For that reason, women tend to have a hard time staying asleep once they finally get there.
And if you’re a new mother, you know that taking care of an infant isn’t always conducive to peaceful slumber. As a matter of fact, one study shows that women lose hundreds of hours of sleep taking care of a child during the first year.How to get a good night’s sleep.
Even though it seems the odds are stacked against you, there are steps you can take to promote better sleep. Establishing a consistent bedtime and getting up at the same time each day will help condition your body to sleep during certain hours. The bedroom should be relatively cool and quiet. Make sure you eat a healthy diet that steers clear of fatty and spicy food so indigestion or heartburn won’t keep you up at night. If you can, work in a power nap in the afternoon.
If these guidelines don’t take care of the problems you may need to talk to your healthcare provider. Women are born to sleep better than man so getting your body back on track is certainly doable. And, most importantly, your health depends on it!