A Good Night’s Sleep = A Better You

By HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals

Get up, wrangle the kiddos, go to work for eight-plus hours, make dinner, wrangle the kiddos again, go to bed exhausted, do it all over again the next day. Sound familiar?

The National Sleep Foundation says 40 percent of women in the United States are not getting the recommended number of zzzs because of busy lives. Plus, sleep problems and diagnosed sleep disorders affect women nearly twice as much as men.

Experts at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals say there are 84 identified types of sleep disorders.

“Sleep is just as important as the air you breathe, the food you eat and the exercise you get,” said Kelly Schmidt, HSHS Clinical Sleep Educator.

Schmidt has been studying sleep for 17 years with HSHS. She said while insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, you don’t just get insomnia.

“Insomnia is a symptom of something else like depression, stress or medication, and women are three times more likely than men to suffer from it which leads to daytime sleepiness.”

The environment in which you get your zzzs is just as important as avoiding caffeine and screen time before bed.

“For women especially, the bedroom should be a stress-free zone. Daily life brings enough challenges with kids, managing a household and finding time for personal space,” she said.

Studies show lavender decreases heart rate and blood pressure which puts you in a more relaxed state.

White noise from a sound machine, fan or air purifier could also give you a better chance of undisturbed sleep because it blocks background noises.

Temperature is also extremely important, especially for women. As you sleep, your body temp drops. As morning arrives your temp naturally rises and gets you ready for the day. Experts say the ideal bedroom temp is 65 degrees.

Schmidt says it’s important to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night and if you don’t, a sleep study could shed light on why.

“It could be sleep apnea, maybe restless leg syndrome,” she said.” The bottom line is you have to listen to your body. If you’re struggling through the day to stay awake, you need more sleep. It’s that simple.”

If you think a quick fix like caffeine or a 15 minute snooze in the afternoon will help, Schmidt says think again.

“Caffeine leads to a crash which leads to being more tired,” she said. “A nap throws off your schedule which can trigger disrupted sleep at night.”

If a nap is an absolute must, Schmidt says limit it to no more than 60 minutes and no later than 3 p.m. Even better, she says use that time to get in some exercise. Movement will release endorphins, improve your mood and awaken your system.

The bottom line for women is to remember personal time is important. Taking care of everything and everyone else is great, but if you aren’t healthy and happy, the support you give others will be a snore.

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