Women and sleep
It’s almost August, which is Women’s Month in South Africa, so we thought we’d focus on women’s sleep needs and challenges in this blog post, and how women differ from men when it comes to rest.
Men and women have similar sleep needs – both needing between 7 and 9 hours a night. But although both sexes may be kept up at night by everything from personal stress to work commitments and medical conditions, research has shown that women experience more sleep fragmentation and a lower quality sleep than men. This leaves them with a sleep deficit, even though they are statistically more likely to take naps.
Ages and stages
It’s natural to expect our sleep patterns to change as we enter different stages of life. For women, from the first discomfort of puberty and menstruation as teens to life-changing events like relationship changes or the introduction of children into the dynamic, and then menopause, women’s sleep routines change over time, but it’s important to try to avoid sleep deprivation which is a real threat.
Between smashing goals at work, keeping track of literally everything in the house and making sure we do something for ourselves, many women find there is no time to deal with sleep sagas. By the time menopause arrives with hot flashes and shrinking bladders, it’s worthwhile chatting to the doctor about solutions that will help to manage the symptoms so that no one loses sleep over it.
Up all night
In addition to the run of the mill hormonal factors, women are more likely to have sleep issues than men. Restless legs, sometimes caused by a lack of magnesium in the diet, can make you feel like you’re dancing to show tunes just before you nod off or prevent you from falling asleep at all. The good news is that magnesium can be found in good quality dark chocolate so, as long as you don’t indulge just before bed, it may be a tasty way to better rest (that’s our story and we’re sticking to it!).
Insomnia, which is an umbrella term to encompass difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can also strike during periods of stress and anxiety or become a more long-term problem unless nipped in the bud. Women are twice as likely to be affected by insomnia than men. While some may resort to using naps as a quick fix for that mid-afternoon slump, be careful to not do it too close to bedtime or for too long a time as this can interfere with your nighttime slumber too.
We recommend chatting to a medical professional to rule out any health issues that may be getting in the way of your daily rest. If there’s nothing medically wrong, but you’re still battling to sleep, consider your diet, especially caffeine consumption. It’s also worth trying some gentle exercise or even just a walk to get some fresh air and sunshine.
If all else fails, consider where you sleep, as a worn-out bed may be the cause of your concerns. We spend between 8 and 10 hours in bed each day and, if your bed is nearing the end of its life, it may be worth considering investing in a new one. Check out our helpful article on how to choose a new bed here.
For more fun sleep facts and expert sleep advice, why not visit our Sleep Blog?