How are you sleeping? More than 80 percent of respondents to HealthyWomen's latest poll say that they never or only occasionally wake up feeling rested and refreshed. That's a real problem given that poor sleep can negatively impact us both physically and mentally. Sleep disruption causes fatigue, which impairs memory, lowers one's mood and can lead to physical health issues such as high blood pressure and depression. That's particularly scary for the 14 percent of our readers who said they "never" wake up feeling rested and the 29 percent who say that happens "rarely." But, there are things women can do to sleep better and we're not referring to sleeping pills.
According to Matthew R. Ebben, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in neurology, the Center for Sleep Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Medical College of Cornell University, behavioral treatments are usually the most effective in treating insomnia in the long term. This includes making sure that you eat dinner more than two hours before heading to bed, sticking to consistent times to go to sleep and get up in the morning, limiting caffeine after midday and getting regular exercise.
Sleep problems are widespread in today's society and can be brought on by stress, family and work demands, or possibly sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. For women, hormones add to the mix. Pregnancy and its related body changes can disrupt sleep, as well as monthly basal temperature changes due to ovulation and, of course, night sweats and hot flashes often experienced during menopause.
Sleep loss accumulates over time causing a sleep deficit. This means that you may need to get extra sleep for several days to "catch up." It's important to understand what your real sleep need is. For most adults, the eight-hours-a-night rule holds true, but some people may require more or less sleep to function at full capacity.
Getting adequate sleep is critical to maintaining good health. For more tips on sleeping well, check out this article on HealthyWomen.org.
We hope you'll share these tips with your readers so that they can sleep better and, as a result, live healthier.
As always, if we can help you locate medical experts, resources or trusted medical content, please feel free to contact us for assistance.
In good health,
Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill