Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health and well-being. If you’re a woman, the amount of sleep you get matters a lot — a new study suggests eight hours isn’t enough. If you’re a woman 50 or older, you’re likely to live longer than men of the same age. Longevity poses additional challenges to staying healthy, and as a woman, if you don’t get enough quality sleep, it can affect your health.
Biological gender differences in sleep needs play an important role. Research by neuroscientists has concluded that women either sleep more than 8 hours a night or do not rest well. The general reason for this is that a woman’s brain is more active than a man’s and needs more rest to repair and recover from damage done throughout the day.
A lot is happening while you sleep; the body can recover and repair itself from the day’s events. Compounds are synthesized during energy and organ regeneration. According to the Mayo Clinic, lack of sleep increases the risk of daytime sleepiness, weight gain, heart disease, and dementia such as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by an excess of amyloid (protein aggregates) in the brain. When women go into deep sleep, these proteins are cleared from the brain. There is a link between the quality and quantity of sleep and a healthy brain in women. Almost 66% of people with Alzheimer’s disease are women, and studies show that 40% of American adults sleep less than 7 hours a night – the average for all American adults is 6.9 hours.
Adequate hours and quality sleep can reduce stress levels, which is good for cardiovascular health. A good night’s sleep improves attention, memory, and creativity in women. Sleep helps maintain body weight, so well-rested women lose more fat if they eat a healthy diet. Getting enough sleep supports a woman’s skin and overall appearance. The old adage “rest in beauty” is a reality.
There are some things women can do to improve the quality of their sleep. Daily exercise is the key to proper rest. Turning off the TV and putting away your cell phone at least an hour before bed allows your brain to relax and get rid of blue light emissions that can affect sleep quality. Avoid alcohol and coffee before going to bed and create a healthy bedtime routine. Take the time to turn off the lights and follow through. Make sure the mattress and pillow are suitable for your sleeping needs.
Women need more sleep than men. Unfortunately, many women don’t know this or feel guilty if they take more time to sleep. However, a well-rested woman is more productive than someone who is tired all day. A well-rested woman is more likely to stay healthy and disease-free. It’s important to take steps to ensure you and the women in your life get enough sleep. Taking care of your body by getting enough sleep is one of the most important things a woman can do to help you stay healthy as you age. Plan your sleep and make it a priority for a successful and happy life in the years to come. Planning for later life and striving to stay physically and mentally fit are essential to successful aging. Women have special needs that must be addressed.