Like so many things in life, insomnia is not gender blind. As a sleep doctor and clinical psychologist who has worked with patients for more than 15 years, it is clear that the same rules do not apply to men.
Women are more at risk of developing sleep problems than men in a ratio of almost three to two.
Even as a sleep expert I am not immune to a bad night's sleep. Like so many middle-aged women, I juggle children with work, household chores, hormonal fluctuations and often meaningless attempts to find valuable time for myself – but the difference is that I know how to prevent those inevitable sleep disorders from being regular and problematic to become.
The irony is that women have a genetic predisposition to a deeper and longer sleep than men, a gender difference that is demonstrated in brain scans from the age of six months.
British sleep expert Dr. Shelby Harris, advised women on overcoming insomnia and revealed lifestyle changes that can improve sleep & night (file image)
But adult women can't get enough – partly due to lifestyle factors and very often due to hormones. Hormonal changes of all kinds, but especially those during the transition during the transition, disrupt and shorten sleep.
Perimenopausal women are kept awake by hot flashes, night sweats and a roller coaster of perpendicular estrogen, the hormone that normally helps women fall asleep and stay asleep, and decreasing levels of progesterone responsible for broken sleep, wake up early in the morning and feelings of fear. The average woman indeed gets less than seven hours of sleep per night, while most of us need it at least.
TYRANNY OF THE TO-DO LIST
But they are not just hormones. For so many women, life stands in the way of sleep – and I have noticed that it is mostly women who have difficulty turning off their to-do list at night. Sleep, once such a good thing, is so easily forgotten in the pile of laundry by the stairs.
You can often add other awkward factors to the mix: adolescent children have irregular hours, fear of empty nest syndrome, aging parents, a career and possibly also negotiating a sticky stage in your marriage.
Dr. Shelby Harris says it's important to set up a nocturnal resolution ritual without screens, as studies have shown that TV can affect sleep quality (file image)
I am well aware that life can be a juggler and we women tend to take on too much from time to time. Sometimes – more often than I would like to admit – I drop all balls, also enormously.
There are nights when I just can't sleep because my mind doesn't switch off, although I really want to; or I find it too busy to do anything else to go to bed on time. But I learned to wipe away a bad night or two, and now I put a good night's sleep at the top of my to-do list.
In addition to the basic needs for my husband and children, sleep is one of my top priorities. I tell myself that ironing will be done one more day and those emails can wait.
Stop becoming obsessed. Open the task list. And not binge watch box sets. . . they are all classic sleep distributors
Yes, I hate to wake up and still find my sink full of plates, but I train myself to accept a hectic life and to be friendlier to myself to do my best with the resources I have. I know that if I get a good night's sleep, it helps that everything else falls into place.
If insomnia is a deep-rooted issue, a sleep diary and professional help from a sleep doctor can be powerfully effective. But if you use these classic & # 39; sleep awayers & # 39; , most women sleep better – & # 39; at night.
Do not constantly talk about INSOMNIA
It is common for people with insomnia to tell everyone that they have not slept well. It is often a bit of self-protection in the hope that others will not expect too much from them.
But this increases the volume of sleep, making it a much bigger problem than it should be.
Make a pact with yourself so as not to discuss your sleep with others. (Unless of course you have to let friends and family know that they should be worried.)
The British sleep expert revealed that even a few alcoholic drinks can disrupt your sleep and make snoring worse (file image)
SAY & # 39; NO & # 39; FOR NETFLIX
Sleep is not an on / off switch – we must treat it more like a dimmer, and that means setting a nightly settlement ritual without screens.
It is so easy to consider binge-watching box sets as valuable & # 39; i-time & # 39; & # 39; to relax in the evening, but studies show the more TV you watch, the poorer your sleep quality and the more your sleeplessness and fatigue stand out.
If you catch up with & # 39; TV in the night, set a delivery limit and press the & # 39; break & # 39 ;.
HIDE YOUR CLOCK
Everyone with a sleeping problem often spends a lot of time looking at their bedside table and worries about how little sleep they have had and how bad they will feel the next day.
So put your clock out of sight under your bed and don't look at it until the alarm goes off.
STOP DRINKING ALCOHOL THREE HOURS FOR THE BED
Alcohol can make you sleepy, but the effect disappears quickly and a few drinks can even disturb your sleep.
Alcohol is also a sedative and will relax the muscles in your airways, making snoring or sleep apnea worse. So stop drinking alcohol three hours before bedtime to get its effects erased from your system.
Dr. Shelby Harris revealed that caffeine takes longer to leave the body with age, suggesting to be careful with your intake during the day (file image)
DISCOVER THE POST-LUNCH CAFFEINE HIT
People with sleeping problems often rely on caffeine to get through the day. But the average cup of coffee has a half-life of six hours (the time it takes your body to remove half the caffeine you've been drinking).
That means that half of the caffeine from your 14-hour espresso is still buzzing in your system at 8 o'clock.
And as we get older, caffeine takes longer to leave the body.
SLEEP TRACKERS CAN MAKE THINGS WORSE
These apps and smart watches usually estimate sleep based on our night movement – but sometimes we move during sleep and sometimes we lie completely still when we hope to fall asleep, so they may not be accurate.
They can also cause you to be hyper-focused on sleep when you need to be less focused, not anymore.
GO TO BED AND GET AT THE SAME TIME
For women with insomnia, it is a big problem to force yourself to sleep at night and put too much emphasis on being able to sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every night (even on weekends) and wake up at the same time every morning.
Dr. Shelby Harris recommends making it a habit to turn off your work computer and telephone at least two hours before bedtime (file image)
ASSESS YOUR NAPS
Daytime naps steal sleep from & # 39; at night. Try to avoid them so that you & # 39; are hungry for sleep at night. If you have to sleep, always do this before 2 p.m. and, ideally, only in bed.
And do not take a nap for longer than 20 minutes. It is a good idea to set an alarm for 30 minutes (to give you ten minutes to float away) and to get up as soon as it goes off.
STOP READING E-MAIL TWO HOURS FOR THE BED
Our growing 24/7 work ethic is a huge player in our sleepless society and makes it even harder for our brains to close.
Try to make it a habit to switch off your work computer and telephone at least two hours before bedtime. This allows your brain to settle and produce the hormone melatonin. This ensures that you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
For optimum sleep, your body temperature should drop slightly all night, so keep your bedroom cool. A fan next to the bed can help if you are woken up by hot flashes.
The sleep expert recommends a buffer of four to six hours between workouts and sleep so that the heart rate can slow down and the body temperature can return to normal (file image)
LEARN TO KEEP DARK
We need complete darkness to activate the melatonin hormone that keeps us asleep. But your brain can feel light through the eyelids when they are closed, so invest in heavy curtains or wear an eye mask overnight.
EMBRACE "PINK NOISE"
The irregular sound of voices elsewhere in the house or traffic outside can disturb sleep. But background-white noise, such as a fan, can help or invest in an app such as NoiseZ, Noise Generator: Full Spectrum or Pink Noise.
Pink noise is similar to white noise, but is thicker sounding, with more low frequencies, making it look like the flow of a large waterfall. Researchers believe it can cause brain wave patterns that are involved in deep sleep.
WORK EARLIER IN THE DAY
Exercise can deepen your sleep so that you are less likely to wake up to pain, noise and hot flashes. But allow a buffer of four to six hours before bedtime, so that the heartbeat can slow down and the body temperature can return to normal.
Dr. Shelby Harris (photo) says that the blue light emitted by electronic gadgets can affect the ability to fall and stay asleep
EAT THREE HOURS FOR THE BED
If you have to digest a heavy, large or spicy meal within three hours of bedtime, it can seriously damage your sleep. Creamy or sour meals can aggravate acid reflux, making your sleep more restless.
DO NOT BATH BEFORE THE BED
A warm shower or bath just before bedtime sounds like a great way to relax and unwind, but warm water can overheat your body temperature and keep you from falling asleep.
So take a warm (not warm) shower or bath one and a half to two hours before bedtime, so that there is enough time to cool down.
My menopausal patients say that a warm evening bath can help reduce the number and severity of hot flashes later that night.
READ A BOOK, NOT A KIND
The blue light emitted by electronic gadgets, including many Kindles, reduces melatonin and can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Studies have shown that people who read on a tablet take longer to fall asleep and longer to wake up the next morning, and spend less time in REM sleep (active sleep when we process emotions, learn, memories) consolidate and dream) than those who read a traditional paper book.
Dr. Shelby Harris advises practicing mindfulness to prevent you from thinking about a million things at a time when you are trying to sleep (file image)
DISCOVER THE EXTRA MIND LUGGAGE
Women are so busy and the female brain is programmed to think about a million things at the same time. That is why mindfulness, that you learn to concentrate on the present, is useful for people with sleeping problems. It is something that I practice myself regularly.
Think of it as watching your luggage go through the airport carousel. Each piece of luggage is a separate thought.
Most insomnia sufferers will be tempted to lie in bed with confused thoughts, grab each piece of luggage and drag it off the conveyor for further inspection. They can easily become overwhelmed.
The method in question would be to notice, acknowledge, and instead of picking up each piece of baggage, run it through the conveyor belt until you are ready to handle it.
YOUR MIDDLE BEDROOM TOOLKIT
Pajama set, £ 59, nightire.com
1 COLD CLOTH: Keep a bowl of ice cream next to your bed with a flannel on it. When your & # 39; is overheating at night, place the ice-cold cloth on your neck to quickly lower your temperature.
2 MENOPAUSE PJ & # 39; s: Pajamas soaked with sweat can make you shiver, so a nightly change can be inevitable. Watch out for moisture-wicking items made from lightweight polyester fabrics, such as sportswear, that don't feel wet.
3 SEPARATE Duvets: They may not look so nice on your double bed, but with its duvets you can enjoy the sleep-inducing benefits of two different temperature zones.
4 HORMON CALMING HERBS: The backbone herb of perimenopausal treatment is black cohosh.
This herb falls into the adaptogen category, meaning it helps us adapt to changing circumstances and works by occupying estrogen receptors throughout the body, making the cells less reactive to hormonal fluctuations.
Try 40 mg twice a day to reduce hot flashes and relieve irritability. Another useful supplement during perimenopause is evening primrose oil, which helps modulate the nervous system, thereby reducing the discomfort of hot flashes and night sweats. Try 1,300 mg twice a day. (Always contact your doctor before taking a new supplement.)
ADAPTED by LOUISE ATKINSON from The Women & # 39; s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia by Dr. ir. Shelby Harris (£ 12.50, WW Norton). © Dr. Shelby Harris 2019. To order a copy for £ 10 (offer valid until August 12, 2019), call 0844 571 0640. P&P free with orders over £ 15.
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