Sleep is sexy… and we also do a lot of it! On average we spend roughly a third of our lives in bed sleeping. It’s how our bodies rejuvenate, regulate and energize. Some studies have shown that approximately 55% of the world’s population suffer sleep issues and that women are affected more than men(1). The average adult needs 7-9 hours per night for optimum health and function but apparently more than 60% of women fall short of this. Your sleep can be affected by so many things, so I thought I would give you a little more information on the what’s and why’s, as well as a few tips on how to improve your sleep.
If you are experiencing sleep problems try and make it a priority for yourself to improve it, as lack of sleep can negatively affect all areas of your life.
SLEEP WOMEN VS MEN
Women need approximately 20 mins more sleep per night than men(2). Women also have a greater risk than men of health problems associated with lack of sleep (heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression)(3). Women have an earlier circadian timing to men meaning they often go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. When your circadian rhythm is not in sync with your body clock it can cause sleep disruptions. Women tend to worry more than men leading to broken sleep.
SLEEP + PREGNANCY
Apart from the obvious discomfort of pregnancy and frequent trips to the bathroom during the night, changes in hormones also affect sleep quality during this time. If you already have problems sleeping these can also worsen during pregnancy. Sleep patterns are also very different depending on the trimester.
SLEEP + FOOD
Lack of sleep can affect hunger-related hormones and is linked to poor food choices, increased hunger and less physical activity which in turn can lead to weight gain. It is also associated with higher levels of the hormone ghrelin which increases appetite and decreased levels of leptin which tells your you’re full(4).
SLEEP + MENOPAUSE
Up to 60% of women in menopause experience some form of insomnia.
Sleep problems, in particular sleep apnea, is also more common in post-menopausal women compared to peri-menopausal women due to the considerable hormone changes that happen during ‘the change’. Sleep can be affected due to hot flashes. Sudden increases in temperature means your body is experiencing a spike in adrenaline which is caused by a fast decrease of hormones. When this happens, your body can have difficulty recovering from the sudden energy burst making it harder to fall back to sleep(5).
SLEEP + HORMONES
A decrease in estrogen levels affects your quality of sleep(6).
Progesterone is a sleep-producing hormone, and when this declines it can also affect sleep. The decline in these hormones happens right before menstruation, and is a part of the reason for menopause.
Cortisol (stress hormone) – we need higher amounts of this in the morning to wake us up and lower amounts throughout the day and especially the evening, to help us fall us asleep. If your Cortisol levels are out of whack (i.e. don’t naturally decline throughout the day) this will affect your ability to fall asleep(7).
Whatever stage of life you’re at there’s no doubt sleep deprivation can negatively affect your mental health too. Lack of sleep is not only linked to anxiety and depression but can lead to difficulty making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behaviour and ability to cope with change(8).
Good quality sleep helps regulate your immune system, lessens anxiety, decreases stress, boosts your mood and can increase intimacy with your partner(9). When you sleep well you are better equipped to deal with all aspects of life and it’s challenges.
Here are some general tips for a good night’s sleep…
- Try and get into a routine and be as consistent as possible with it.
- Avoid technology for at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Make sure your bedroom is cool, calming, and relaxing.
- Avoid snacking before bedtime or eating meals to close to bedtime.
- Turn the lights out, darkness promotes sleep.
- Move during the day, exercise or walk.
- Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature.
- If you have worries or things on your mind, try writing in down and putting in a drawer to deal with the next day.
- Try a quick guided meditation or playing some white noise
So, get your sexy sleep in as a matter of priority! It’ll keep you looking, behaving, and most importantly FEELING young and vibrant!
Charlie is a body image counselor, stylist, and personal trainer. She can help turn your mental health and low self esteem around, filling you with confidence, a sense of worth, and the kind of energy that comes with being fit and strong. If you’re ready to make some changes in how you think and exercise, you can book a complimentary session with Charlie here. Alternatively, check out her shop here for counselling, styling, training, and self esteem services!
(4) van Egmond LT, Meth EMS, Engström J, Ilemosoglou M, Keller JA, Vogel H, Benedict C. Effects of acute sleep loss on leptin, ghrelin, and adiponectin in adults with healthy weight and obesity: A laboratory study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2023 Mar;31(3):635-641. doi: 10.1002/oby.23616. Epub 2022 Nov 20. PMID: 36404495.
(6) Lee J, Han Y, Cho HH, Kim MR. Sleep Disorders and Menopause. J Menopausal Med. 2019 Aug;25(2):83-87. doi: 10.6118/jmm.19192. Epub 2019 Aug 5. Erratum in: J Menopausal Med. 2019 Dec;25(3):172. PMID: 31497577; PMCID: PMC6718648.
(7) O’Byrne NA, Yuen F, Butt WZ, Liu PY. Sleep and Circadian Regulation of Cortisol: A Short Review. Curr Opin Endocr Metab Res. 2021 Jun;18:178-186. doi: 10.1016/j.coemr.2021.03.011. Epub 2021 May 5. PMID: 35128146; PMCID: PMC8813037.
(8) Scott AJ, Webb TL, Martyn-St James M, Rowse G, Weich S. Improving sleep quality leads to better mental health: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. 2021 Dec;60:101556. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101556. Epub 2021 Sep 23. PMID: 34607184; PMCID: PMC8651630.
(9) Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012 Jan;463(1):121-37. doi: 10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0. Epub 2011 Nov 10. PMID: 22071480; PMCID: PMC3256323.