Why sleep is sooo important for 40 and 50+ Women

 

Do you regularly wake up early and can’t get back to sleep?

Are you just longing for a GOOD nights sleep so you can actually do something productive during the day?

Sleep is SO important for us when we reach our 40’s and 50’s, here’s why:

  • Your body repairs itself at night. If you are not sleeping you will gain weight, be moody and increase your risk for all sorts of chronic diseases. Researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from 7 to 5 hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

And cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of post-menopausal women.

  • Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep interrupts these processes. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.
    Various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.
  • Lack of sleep makes you fat. Grehlin and leptin are the hormones that tell your brain if you’re hungry or full. Sleep deprivation has been shown to completely disrupt the way these work. Also, cortisol levels go down when we are asleep (it’s part of the repair process). If they are high at night, your body thinks it’s under stress and hangs onto fat. All of this leads to insulin resistance.
  • During and beyond menopause the body is compromised due to the changing and declining hormones.  This can effect our sleep patterns and effect the quality of our sleep.

What can we do?:

  1. Beware of caffeine. We all love caffeine; it is the world’s favorite drug. Depending on your genetics, it has a half-life of around 8 hours. There are some people who have very low tolerance for caffeine and should avoid it altogether, and other very rare people who allegedly can have a coffee before bed and sleep soundly. For most of us, noon is a good cutoff for our favorite beverage.
  2. Beware of alcohol. Initially it may be relaxing, but even small amounts of alcohol may cause a re-bound effect which can lead to waking up in the middle of the night. Night caps are so 1960.
  3. Create a sleep ramp to take you from your active day to a restful sleep. Our brains do not come wired with an instant off switch, so we need to slowly ramp down. For most people, this is a 2 or 3 hour process. Sure, we can try doing highly mentally engaging work right up until brushing our teeth pre-sleep; however, there is a very good chance we either won’t be able to fall asleep or we will wake up in the middle of the night with a very active brain. Let’s create a nightly routine to let go of the day, and to leave its problems and issues until tomorrow. We will be able to attend to them much more effectively if we are fresh. Let’s wind it down: read some fiction, take a bath, go for a walk, listen to music, go out to dinner, watch a movie. You will know what works for you.