My favorite hello and hardest goodbye… is my bed! I love sleep!
Yes indeed, statistics prove we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping – however, it is during this time that our brain is completing critical tasks like backing up memories, reinforcing learning, and tossing out garbage (clearing toxins). An evolutionary paradox – what seems like a waste of time is imperative to our survival!
- Did you know as women our hormones play a prominent role in the quality of sleep we get?
- Did you also know that insomnia is much more common in women than in men?
So much for beauty sleep, if we manage to get any sleep at all!
In a really quick recap, here is what could happen if we decide to skimp on sleep:
- Accidents – Self-explanatory, sleep loss is one of the biggest safety hazards on the roads.
- Dumbs-you-down – Lack of sleep impedes the cognitive process.
- Serious Health problems – Heart disease, attack, or failure, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes to mention a few.
- Kills sex drive – Lower libidos stemming from depleted energy and tension owing to lack of sleep.
- Depression – With time, lack of sleep can contribute to symptoms of depression.
- Aging Skin – Sleep loss culminates in lackluster skin, dark circles, and fine lines. This is because cortisol, a stress hormone, breaks down collagen.
- Forgetfulness – “Sharp wave ripples” consolidate memory and only occur during the deepest levels of sleep.
- Weight gain – Lack of sleep increases hunger, appetite, and craving for high fat and carbohydrate foods.
So, let’s take a look at why us women are on a back foot when it comes to scoring some quality Zzzzz’s!
Our bodies have 50 hormones that contribute to modulating biological functions. The two major female hormones are estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen helps control menstrual cycles, and progesterone helps maintain pregnancy. These two hormones shift throughout a woman’s life and affect sleep along the way.
Menstruation brings on life-long cycles of hormonal fluctuations. Menstruating women will experience a drop in progesterone just before their period – during which time women will find it difficult to get quality sleep till the progesterone levels rise. High progesterone = Sweet dreams. If you suffer from period irregularities or complications, chances are your quality of sleep will suffer too.
Tips: If your sleep count is running low, make exercise during these days a priority. Schedule some extra wind down time. Avoid nicotine and caffeine. If menstrual pain is keeping you up at night, try a medication that is a pain reliever and sleep aid.
Nine months of pregnancy and a host of wayward hormones flow through your body to grow that little human within you. The first trimester brings a rise of progesterone to relax muscles and boost immunity. Estrogen also skyrockets. This is perhaps why women feel more tired in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. By the third trimester these hormones even out, but then factors like frequent urination, difficulty in breathing, reflux, and restless leg syndrome (to name a few) make it hard to get a solid night’s sleep.
Tips: Try sleeping with head elevation, helps with reflux and breathing. Try relaxation techniques and a slightly extended wind-down. Drink something soothing – like milk or calming tea. Try lowering the bedroom temperature. Try sleeping on your left side.
Caring for an infant is tremendously demanding on the female anatomy and a shift in hormones after the baby is born is a given. Getting too little sleep can be bad for both mother and baby, leaving you irritable and vulnerable to illness. Postpartum sleeping disorders puts women at a greater risk for postpartum depression or challenges when bonding with the baby.
Tips: Enlist help when and where available and catch-up on sleep. Try not to overcommit yourself. Slowly work yourself towards establishing a routine for you and baby. Nap when the baby does.
Enter more hormone dramatic fluctuations. Hello night sweats, hot flashes, irritability, and inability to settle and relax. Owing to the drop in hormones especially progesterone, sleep disorders become common in menopausal women. Studies show that women going through menopause spend less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which results in feeling less than well rested.
Tips: Incorporate soy-rich foods, which contain phytoestrogen (which mimics the effect of estrogen in your body) into your diet. Avoid spicy food which could be a trigger to hot flashes. Wear lightweight night clothing. Consider hormonal support. Mind-body techniques and yoga can help.
Getting better sleep
Follow a regular sleep schedule where possible. Make sure your environment is conducive to peaceful slumber, with right lighting, less noise or ambient/white noise. Eat well in advance of your sleep time; at least 4 hours needs to lapse. Light from cellphones and laptops suppress melatonin making it harder to fall asleep – if you must, use night mode that cuts blue light.
Create a wind-down routine which sends your body and brain a message that it is time to relax. A quick shower before bed, followed by your skincare and moisturizing routine…don’t forget your REJUCREAM Intimate Area Moisturizer. Followed by reading a book or mindful breathing to further relax and calm you.