In 2007, Arianna Huffington, the founder of HuffPost, literally collapsed from burnout and sheer exhaustion as she was dedicating all her efforts towards building the media brand. Today, she says this is “the best thing” that has happened to her because she understood the true value of relaxation and quality sleep. She found out that lack of sleep in women results in lapses of judgement and reduced ability to realize their true potential.
Dr. John Peever, director of the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of Toronto, and Brian J. Murray, director of the sleep laboratory at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, have expressed Ms Huffington’s findings in a more scientific tone. “Sleep serves to re-energize the body’s cells, clear waste from the brain, and support learning and memory. It even plays vital roles in regulating mood, appetite, and libido,” they said.
Their colleague, leading UK’s sleep neuroscientist, Professor Jim Horne, insists that women actually need to sleep more than men, by at least 20 minutes on average.
Prof. Horne explains that male and female brain work differently. Since women tend to pay their attention to several tasks at once, they use more of their brain than men do, hence, their increased need for sleep for the purpose of recovery. The professors study has shown that 18% of women say they’d had a restless night at least five days out of seven, while only 8% of men reported same.
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A US non-profit, the National Sleep Foundation, has found out that, while women do need more sleep, they are not getting enough and are more likely to suffer from insomnia.
Here are some of the scientific reasons the NSF says may be impacting the time and quality of sleep for women:
#1. It is more difficult for women to fall back asleep once they wake up during their rest, since they are naturally smaller than men and tend to move around the bed more.
#2. Hot flushes, one of the symptoms of menopause, also disrupt sleep.
#3. If a woman is pregnant, it may be difficult for her to get some proper night’s sleep because of the added weight and position of the baby.
#4. Stress-induced insomnia occurs in women more often than in men.
Speaking of multitasking, it has been repeatedly proven by scientists that it’s not as effective and efficient as focusing on a single task at a time. The cognitive energy reserves of multi-taskers are depleting faster, hence tiredness. Moreover, multi-taskers, and, therefore, natural multi-taskers like women, tend to eat more junk food and ingest more caffeine in comparison to those doing one thing at a time. The solution? Take a break. Your brain won’t necessarily benefit from yet another cup of coffee, but it surely will from some rest.
This is not to say that men need less sleep! This is to say that there are lifestyle habits that will help whoever feels sleep-deprived.
Below are some sleep hygiene tips from the NSF:
#1. No caffeine or tobacco a couple of hours before you go to sleep. You don’t need those stimulants at night.
#2. Physical activity is vital. Just 10 minutes (and above, of course) of a short workout do wonders.
#3. Develop and adopt a pre-bed routine: Take a shower, stretch, read a book.
#4. Make sure some natural light reaches you at where you sleep.
#5. Daytime naps aren’t a no-no, but try limiting them to half an hour.
#6. Having too much to drink right before bed is harmful for your sleep cycle. Limit intake to just one or two drinks.
#7. Make sure your electronic devices are turned off.
Do you have any “going to bed” rituals or other ways to improve the quality of your sleep? Tell us in the comments!
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The BetterMe Team wants you and those close to you to live a healthy, happy life! Your health is a valuable thing; look after your body and your mind so that you can live your life to the fullest – Remember you only get one!
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