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Sleep Loss Affects Women More Than Men

Scientific research makes it clear that sleep is essential at any age.  Sleep powers the mind, restores the body and fortifies virtually every system in the body.  But why do so many women struggle with sleep and achieving those benefits more than men do?  
Harvard Medical School, The Mayo Clinic along with The National Sleep Foundation (to name a few) all have done studies on how sleep loss affects women more than men.  Why? Women need more sleep than men for various reasons and many are not getting the required amount on a daily basis.  On average, women have busier schedules and more multi-tasking throughout their day.  Women go through more hormonal changes from puberty, pregnancy and menopause that all can cause physical pain and discomfort, which can lead to anxiety and depression.  All which affect the sleep patterns for women.  Women who struggle with sleep disruptors and get less than 6 hours of sleep a night have a greater risk for health problems than men.  This puts women at an elevated risk for heart disease and hypertension, stroke, cognitive decline, weight gain, type 2 diabetes and depression.  Dr. Mary Susan Esther, a sleep doctor at Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of North Carolina provided 5 tips to get your sleep back on track.

  1. Have a standard wake-up time.  You can’t always control the hour that you actually fall asleep, but you can make yourself get up at the same time every day.  If you stick to that schedule, eventually you should find yourself falling asleep more easily.  
  2. Make sure you have downtime before bed.  Your body needs a signal that it’s almost time for sleep.  Most parents do this with their kids by giving them a bath, then reading them a story – a regular bedtime routine.  Adults need this as well, so shut off computers and TVs at least an hour before you want to be asleep.  
  3. Avoid caffeine after noon.  Yes, it’s hard – especially with a Starbucks on every corner.  But it takes many hours for the caffeine to work through your system and can interfere with your ability to get to sleep.  That also applies to soft drinks that contain caffeine – and even chocolate.
  4. Watch your alcohol consumption.  If you drink too close to bedtime, you will not sleep well because as you metabolize alcohol, your sleep is interrupted.  Dr. Esther says you generally metabolize alcohol at a rate of about an ounce an hour.  That means if you drink a four-ounce glass of wine at 8pm, you won’t finish metabolizing it until midnight.
  5. Make sleep a priority.  You need to schedule sleep time just like everything else.  It’s not expendable.  
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Read the full article on Newsweek HERE.