From insomnia, to sleep apnea, to the typical tossing and turning, many adults report experiencing a sleeping problem at least one or more nights a week.* It should come as no surprise that women are more likely to have sleep disturbances than men. Hormonal changes throughout a woman’s life are partly to blame, but stress and lifestyle factors also play a role.
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to a woman’s overall health and mental wellbeing. Without sufficient sleep we’re all more susceptible to a number of chronic diseases and conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.
How much sleep is enough? It varies by individual and changes as a person ages. A good guideline is 7-9 hours a night, every night. So how do you ensure you get those precious hours of restful sleep? Here are some tips that can help.
•Avoid the afternoon pick-me-up. A good night’s sleep actually starts in the afternoon! Steer clear of all caffeine after lunchtime. That includes colas, coffee, tea, some supplements, and even chocolate. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 14 hours, enough time to interrupt sleepy time. (Caffeine can also trigger bladder leakage. Read more here.)
•Eat and drink lightly. Avoid heavy meals and excessive fluids too close to bedtime. Your body has to work overtime to digest a heavy meal which can keep you from restful sleep. And too many fluids near bedtime can interrupt your sleep with extra bathroom visits throughout the night.
•Take time to unwind. It’s important to avoid TV and computer time within one hour of going to bed. Instead, use the time to wind down. Relax with soft music or download nature sounds like rainfall or ocean waves. Taking a warm bath before bedtime can also help you relax.
•Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Keep books and piles of clothes off your bed. Remove the TV, computer, and other gadgets from the bedroom so that you use your bedroom only for sleep (and snuggling!). When sleeping, keep it quiet and dark and maintain a comfortable, cooler temperature.
•Get into a routine. Try to go to bed at roughly the same time every night, even on weekends, and try to wake up at the same time each morning. Bear in mind, there’s no such thing as catching up on your sleep by staying in bed an extra three hours on a Saturday morning. All that does is throw off your natural biological clock, interfere with your overall sleep quality, and make you more tired.
•See the light. Light signals your brain to wake up so expose yourself to light and sunlight first thing in the morning. Likewise, dim, soft lights tell your brain to calm down, so avoid bright lights at night.
•To nap or not to nap? That is not the question. The real question is for how long. A short 15 or 20-minute catnap can do wonders but don’t overdo it. Avoid taking naps of an hour or longer. It will only keep you tossing and turning during the night.
•Write your worries away. If life has you frustrated, anxious, or worried, don’t let it rob you of rest. Before bed, make a list of everything that’s running around in your head—even if it’s just a to-do list—then put the notebook away. Getting it all down on paper acts as a release mechanism and frees up your mind for quality dreamtime.
And remember, if you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes or don’t feel drowsy, get out of bed, sit up, and read or do a quiet activity until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.
Insist on quality shut-eye
Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. You owe it to yourself to be wide-awake, refreshed, and confidently at your best all day long, every day.
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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