“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
I hear the phrase from many friends.
Perhaps it is the unofficial motto of busy women?
How often do you sacrifice sleep to get something done? We all do it, stay up a little later, get up a little earlier, or allow the worries of the day to creep in and prevent sleep.
This constant eating away at sleep has significant health consequences now and into the future.
Even energetic 30-somethings are laying the foundation of their future health. Lack of sleep can mean they are laying calcium deposits in their arteries as well.
A recent study concluded people who consistently sleep five hours per night or less have a much more likely to develop the “hardening of the arteries” type of heart disease than people who slept seven to eight hours per night. The damage begins in your 20s and 30s.
Women who sleep less than seven hours per night significantly increase their risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and depression. In addition lack of sleep decreases your mental agility, alertness and impairs your immune system.
So, are you getting enough sleep?
The National Sleep Foundation finds 67% of women frequently experience sleep problems. Even though women are 1.5 times more likely to experience sleep problems than men, 75% of sleep studies are conducted on men, so doctors are not quite sure why women aren’t sleeping.
Some factors which may contribute are:
- The demands of the day don’t allow you to unwind and find sleep.
- Small children interrupt your sleep and you can’t get back to sleep.
- Hormonal changes can raise your body temperature making it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Your sleep environment or lifestyle prevents good sleep.
How can you get a better night’s sleep?
- Get some exercise. Moving around during the day will wear you out and help you sleep. However, avoid exercise (except for gentle stretching) within two hours of bed time. Exercise revs you up and will make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Get some light. Help your body figure out when it is time to be awake and time to sleep. Get some natural light during the day and then dim the lights as you head to bed.
- Get on schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Allow your body to get into a routine. Napping and sleeping in mess up you body’s schedule and should be limited.
- Get comfy. Set yourself up for success with a bed and bedroom designed just for sleep. Avoid watching television, working, eating, or writing out your list of things to do while on your bed. Allow your brain and body to association your bed with sleep — and well … sex only.
- Get quiet. Spend the last 30 minutes before you turn out the light in calm and peace. Read something light and entertaining, listen to calming music, or meditate. Often laying out clothes for the morning or writing a list of things to do before you start the quiet time can help you let go of worries and relax.
- Get more tips for a good night’s sleep at HelpGuide.org
Many studies have found seven to eight hours of sleep per night is essential to good health. There is some evidence that sleeping more than 9 hours per night can be detrimental, but is too much sleep a problem most busy women have?
Get some shut-eye busy women! You’ll feel better now and be more healthy in the future.
Make a comment an let us know your sleep tips — or what keeps you awake!
Eliz Greene is the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Health. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com.