Why Women Truly Do Need More Sleep and How to Get it in 9 Easy Steps

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Are you living on caffeine?

Having that midday slump right around 3pm?

Staying up wayyyy too late and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy?

Starting to realize how much your lack of sleep is affecting your life? 

I’ve been there! Sleep is so precious, but we take it for granted.

For the average adult, 7-9 hours of sleep is considered vital for proper functioning.  Lack of sleep or disrupted sleep does a lot more harm than just feeling exhausted. It can:

  • Contribute to weight gain and cravings because lack of sleep disrupts your appetite hormones ghrelin & leptin and it also dysregulates how you store carbohydrates,

  • Decrease your ability to retain information because your brain hasn’t had a chance to consolidate the day’s memories

  • Decrease your ability to deal with stress, and

  • Reduce the ability for your internal organs to rest and recover, repair tissues and muscle and synthesize protein.

According to a new study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), more than a third of all Americans are sleep deprived!  Yet, sleep deprivation seems to affect women more than men.

Thats right ladies, listen up!

According to the results of the Women’s Health, American Sleep Association and Thrive Global’s joint survey of 1,500 U.S. women, 88% of women of women don’t sleep through the night on a regular basis, and nearly a third stated they never get an uninterrupted night of sleep. NEVER!?

Why this insanely high percentage? There were a lot of reasons: anxiety, uncomfortable sleeping environment, outside noise, trouble disconnecting to the outside world  (cell phones and TV), and, interestingly, a desire to prioritize our partner’s sleep needs over our own.

I know this one well. My boyfriend is a night owl, but I need to be in bed at a reasonable hour to function the next day. When he gets into bed he conks out immediately, whereas my monkey brain races with never-ending thoughts. (By the way, this phenomenon is not a conspiracy to anger women. It is because men’s hormones cycle every 24 hours, whereas women cycle through their hormones for 28-34 days!)

Simply put, we have different hormones running through our bodies at any given time, sometimes causing insomnia and sometimes causing anxiety or emotional sensitivity. This is why it’s crucially important for women to bring their Cortisol (stress hormone) down slowly throughout the evening. Cortisol is supposed to be highest in the morning and taper off into the evening, when Melatonin comes in and helps us sleep.  

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So what’s a girl to do to create sleep habits that fit her needs? These tips have worked well for me:

1. REDUCE BLUE LIGHT from cell phones and TV in the evening. The light from the blue screen tricks your body into thinking it’s midday by reducing melatonin which wakes up your body and disrupts your hormones. But what if you use your cell phone as your alarm clock? BUY AN ALARM CLOCK!? I know - sacrilege! It may seem crazy not to have our phones in bed with us, but do yourself a favor. Invest in an alarm clock and kick those devices out of your sleep haven!

2. INVEST IN BLUE LIGHT BLOCKING GLASSES. When you just can’t put down the phone or all you want to do is curl up in a ball and watch Grey’s Anatomy until the cows come home, consider investing in Blue Light Blocking Glasses

3. THINK ABOUT GETTING RED NIGHT LIGHTS. The white bulbs we have in our rooms can still emit the sleep disrupting blue light. Choosing a night light that supports the production of melatonin will help you fall back to sleep if you get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.   You can get various red night light on Amazon

4. RISE AND SHINE. Even 10 minutes of sunlight in the morning helps your circadian rhythm get back on track.

5. GET THE TEMPERATURE RIGHT! Keeping your bedroom between 60-67 degrees helps cool down your body and triggers you to get sleepy.

6. REDUCE YOUR DAILY INTAKE OF CAFFEINE  As an experiment, see what happens if you eliminate your afternoon coffee or replace one coffee with tea. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

7. DON'T GO TO BED ON A FULL OR EMPTY STOMACH. Time your dinner to sustain you through bed-time. I recommend eating 3-4 hours before bedtime to maintain your blood sugar levels and stop cravings for carb heavy foods before you hit the snooze button!

8. MAINTAIN A CONSISTENT SLEEP SCHEDULE. This is key, key, key! Our bodies run best in consistent rhythm. This means regulating your sleep on the weekends when it is tempting to go to bed at 2am and sleep until 11am.

9. DEEP BREATHING! It sounds so cliche but it’s true. Meditating with deep breaths can help calm your sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight system). I like counting my breath for three counts in, holding it for a breath and three counts out.

BONUS TIP: If none of these are working you can try a night time sleepy tea with Chamomile or adding Magnesium to your night time routine. I use NutraMetrix Magnesium for it’s quick absorbance. I offer a concierge service for this product where I set up my clients and friends with an account where you receive cashback and you get it shipped to your apartment! Email me for more details at Sophie@she-nyc.com.

Sophie Shepherd