Women are more likely to be sleep deprived: Here's what to do about it.

FemGevity Medical Team
February 15, 2024
5 min read
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Women are more likely to be sleep deprived: Here's what to do about it.

The importance of a proper night's rest cannot be overstated. It's not just about feeling refreshed; it's about maintaining your long-term health and cognitive abilities. Recent research has established a clear link between insufficient sleep and a range of severe health issues, including heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Additionally, sleep deficiency has a significant impact on our ability to learn effectively.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) highlights how college students who lack enough sleep tend to earn lower grades and perform less effectively. This finding is supported by experts who argue that sleep deprivation can also impair concentration and focus at work.
Sleep serves as a crucial time for our bodies to recuperate and recharge. Our heart rate slows during the night, our muscles relax, and various healing processes occur. However, the brain's learning and memory center becomes particularly active during this time.

The recommended sleep duration varies for optimal cognitive function and academic performance: seven to nine hours per night for adults and eight to ten hours for teenagers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting enough sleep is associated with improved test scores, problem-solving abilities, quality of learning, behavioral performance, creativity, and information retention.

Sleep challenges can affect both men and women, but women may face additional hurdles due to hormonal fluctuations related to menstruation and menopause, which can disrupt sleep patterns. Moreover, in today's world, 2023, women still need to juggle multiple home and work responsibilities, such as childcare, which can make it challenging to get sufficient rest.

After the age of 40, many individuals, particularly women, experience a decline in progesterone levels due to hormonal changes. This decline in progesterone can have a significant impact on sleep patterns. Progesterone plays a crucial role in promoting a sense of calm and relaxation by facilitating the action of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. GABA is known for its sleep-promoting and anxiety-reducing properties. When progesterone levels drop, it can inhibit GABA function, making it more challenging to achieve restful sleep without the necessary support and supplementation. This hormonal shift can lead to increased restlessness, sleep disturbances, and insomnia, highlighting the importance of addressing hormonal changes and considering appropriate interventions to support healthy sleep as we age.

Sufficient sleep is also essential for the brain's ability to optimize memory consolidation during different sleep stages, as per research published in PNAS. Additionally, sleep helps the brain forget unimportant details, decluttering our minds and improving overall memory function.
Furthermore, adequate sleep keeps adenosine, a chemical that induces sleepiness, in check. Adenosine builds up in the brain the longer we're awake, leading to decreased clarity and reduced understanding. Sleep clears this adenosine buildup, enhancing focus, attention, and cognitive performance.

For those looking to improve their sleep quality, there are several valuable tips to consider. Incorporating magnesium L-threonate into your routine can help support healthy sleep patterns. Additionally, establishing a healthy circadian rhythm can be achieved by spending 2 to 10 minutes outside in the morning sunlight and observing the sunset, which aids in regulating cortisol release and aligning your body's internal clock for optimal sleep. To mitigate the disruptive effects of artificial light, wearing amber or blue light-blocking glasses when using screens after sunset can be helpful. Moreover, consider transitioning from melatonin supplements to alternatives like L-theanine, chamomile, GABA, or phosphatidylserine, as melatonin may not constantly improve sleep and can potentially worsen it with extended use. Lastly, adopting practices such as taking a warm bath or using a sauna before bedtime and maintaining a cool room temperature is essential for ensuring a peaceful night's sleep, as temperature fluctuations are crucial in promoting restorative slumber.

Sleep is not merely a daily necessity but a cornerstone of our overall well-being and cognitive prowess, from its pivotal role in memory consolidation to its profound impact on academic performance. Hormonal changes, especially the decline in progesterone after 40, can pose challenges to achieving restful sleep and underscore the importance of seeking appropriate support and supplementation. Fortunately, there are practical strategies to enhance our sleep experience. By embracing these approaches and recognizing the profound relationship between sleep and physical and mental well-being, we can pave the way for healthier, more fulfilling lives. So, let us prioritize the rejuvenating power of sleep and awaken to a brighter, more energized future.

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