TROY – Women who lack sleep may get wake up calls from their body.
“Women do a lot of things to be healthy, but one thing they do poorly is sleep,” said Jerry McGlothen, recently retired director of cardiopulmonary services, including sleep lab, at Upper Valley Medical Center. “Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to be healthful.”
Women are twice as likely to have sleep problems as men, said Rashmi Bolinjkar, M.D.
The causes can include hormone imbalance, age, and lifestyle. “Women ignore sleep because of so many roles,” she said of work, family and other commitments.
When there’s a lack of sleep, common issues include mood changes (anger, irritability), poor health choices, and less concentration. Among the health impacts are metabolic syndrome, stroke, diabetes, sleep disorders and obesity.
Women need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, Dr. Bolinjkar said. Overall, they report getting seven hours and 41 minutes of sleep, while men report seven hours, 47 minutes, she said.
McGlothen said sleep “should be one-third of our lives.”
He described the four stages of sleep, all of which are needed, including the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase. “REM sleep is basically the rebooting of your brain,” McGlothen said.
Sleep is a habit, he said, noting going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time promotes good sleep. “Poor sleep affects everything in your life” from the immune system to the ability to focus, McGlothen said.
What one eats also can affect how they sleep, said Diane Birchfield, RD, LD, a clinical dietician at UVMC.
Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided in the few hours before going to bed, she said.
Among foods/bed time snacks to promote better sleep, Birchfield said, would be hummus and whole grain crackers; whole grain cereal and milk; yogurt parfait; a trail mix; one-half turkey sandwich on whole grain bread; and herbal teas.