From spending time with the kids to trying to balance everything for the family, moms can feel absolutely exhausted by the end of the day! Sleep issues affect both women and men of all ages, and for a variety of different reasons. There are so many other factors that contribute to sleep loss — some of which you may not be aware of.
In this blog, we’ll break down how your everyday activities may be affecting your sleep, along with our top sleep tips we’ve learned from experts in the field on how to help moms and families everywhere get a good night’s rest.
According to the Sleep Foundation, women are 40 percent more likely to suffer from sleep issues, like insomnia, than men are. Often sleep issues for women are caused by pain, such as headaches, menstrual cramps and bloating. For older women, another common sleep disruptor is menopause-induced hot flashes affecting between 75 and 85 percent of women.
While sleep issues are common among women, it’s important to pay close attention to your circadian rhythm. Experts recommend avoiding naps during the day whenever possible. While it may be tempting to snooze for a few minutes in between your numerous daily tasks, try to keep a consistent sleep schedule to help you rest easier each night.
Another common sleep issue is waking up in the middle of the night due to lack of exercise. While it can be hard for busy moms to stay active during the day, exercise is a great way to exhaust your energy, help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
If your issues persist with these changes, we recommend talking to your doctor for medical advice.
There are two main factors that determine if your body wants to sleep: circadian rhythm and sleep pressure. Your circadian rhythm helps determine when you sleep but it also includes time preferences for eating, your mood, and your metabolic rate and hormones.
Adenosine is a chemical that builds up in your brain and also affects how you sleep. The longer you are awake, the more of this chemical builds up in your brain. As it accumulates, it makes you feel more tired. If you don’t get enough sleep, then the Adenosine that has built up in your brain doesn't have enough time to purge from your brain and you wake up feeling more tired. It’s for this reason that adhering to a consistent sleep schedule is extremely important.
A few sleep issue symptoms many moms experience include:
It’s important for moms to get the rest they need to thrive each day, so please pay close attention to how you feel. Should you decide to speak with your doctor about your sleep issues, be sure to share if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Sleep studies have found that sleep is more problematic and disordered in older people, especially women. As you enter your 40’s, you’ll see a reduction in the quantity and quality of deep non-REM sleep. You will get 60 to 70 percent less deep sleep than you enjoyed as a teenager, and by 70 you will have lost 80 to 90 percent of your deep sleep. That is one of the reasons we begin losing memory as we age. The parts of our brains that ignite healthy deep sleep are the same areas that degenerate the earliest in life.
Due to sleep fragmentation (waking up more frequently in the night), older women and men will suffer a decrease in the amount of time they are asleep while in bed. Teens enjoy 95 percent efficiency, but by the time we reach our 70’s, that number drops to 70 to 80 percent. That means within an 8-hour period, you will spend as much as 1 to 1.5 hours awake. A low sleep score can result in:
With advanced age, the circadian cycle is also disrupted. This causes an earlier release of melatonin and thus an earlier bedtime and earlier wake time. As we get older, the amount of melatonin our body produces also decreases.
You’ve heard that sleep is important, but why is it necessary? Through more than 750 studies, fitness experts have taken a closer look at the relationship between sleep and human performance. When you get anything less than eight hours of sleep a night, especially less than 6 hours a night, the time to physical exhaustion drops by 10 to 30 percent. Alternatively, post-performance sleep can help the body in many ways, including:
Inadequate sleep can also wreak havoc on our emotions. One study found that there was a 60 percent increase in emotional reactivity in people who were sleep deprived. There was also a 40% decrease in the ability of sleep deprived people to cram new facts into their brains relative to the people who obtained a full night’s sleep. This is especially detrimental for moms and women. They have to be 100% on their game throughout the day juggling the family’s many needs and have no time for mental fogginess.
The two most feared diseases for many American adults are dementia and cancer. Both are related to inadequate sleep. A lack of sleep is fast becoming recognized as a key lifestyle factor determining whether you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Over 60 percent of patients with Alzheimer’s have at least one clinical sleep disorder.
Adults 45 years or older who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night are 200 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime, as compared to those who sleep 7-8 hours a night.
To maintain a healthy diet, it’s crucial that everyone, especially women get their full 8 hours of sleep in — it has also been found that the less you sleep, the more you eat. This is related to two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin signals the brain that you are full and ghrelin triggers a sense of hunger. Inadequate sleep decreases concentrations of leptin and increases the levels of ghrelin.
In a recent study from the University of Chicago, it was discovered that sleep deprived individuals ate an average of 300 calories more each day than individuals who got 7-8 hours of sleep. Scale that up to a year and you will have consumed 70,000 extra calories, causing 10-15 pounds of weight gain a year!
Sleep also fights against infection and sickness by deploying all manner of weaponry within your immune system — which, in a mother’s world of sick children and germs everywhere, it’s important that moms keep their immune systems in check. When you feel sick, your immune system actively stimulates the sleep system, demanding more bed rest to help reinforce the war effort. A sleep study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, found that individuals getting only 5 hours of sleep were 2 times more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep 7 hours or more a night.
A large European study also revealed that sleeping 6 hours or less was associated with a 40 percent increase of developing cancer, relative to those sleeping 7 or more hours a night. Similar associations were found in a study tracking more than 75,000 women across an eleven-year period.
Sleep disorders are very common among men and women, and can have a significant impact on both your daytime and nighttime routines.
A few common sleep disorders that can disrupt life for a mom on the go include:
If you feel you may be experiencing one of these sleep issues, it’s important to talk with your doctor and run tests for each.
Dreaming can be a soothing balm for your sleep hygiene. REM sleep helps take the painful sting out of difficult and traumatic emotional episodes you have experienced during the day, giving you emotional resolution when you wake up the next morning.
In the REM stage of sleep, a key stress-related chemical called noradrenaline is completely shut off. REM sleep is the only time during a 24-hour period when your brain is completely devoid of this anxiety-triggering molecule. This is why when we wake up, we usually feel better and can look at the issue a bit differently.
People with PTSD also have an abnormally high level of noradrenaline released by their nervous system which blocks their ability to maintain normal REM sleep. As a consequence, their brain at night cannot strip away the emotion for the trauma memory, since the stress chemical environment is too high.
Because sleep issues are so common, we want to help all moms live their best lives. Our friend and anxiety coach Amanda Huggins partnered with us to create meditations to help improve the quality of your sleep. You can download them & learn more about Amanda Huggins.
Meditation has been found to have significant impacts on your sleep routine. One study found that meditation can help reduce the wake time of people suffering from insomnia by 50 percent! You can also practice meditation with your family to help everyone get a good night’s rest.
To help with your sleep issues, we also recommend:
Here’s a daily routine we recommend to get the best rest possible:
Need some extra support? Check out the videos below to help you find better sleep!
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