Why is Sleep Important?
According to the American Sleep Association sleep is detrimental for women. The ASA states that, ” Women who get an adequate amount of sleep are able to impart immunity, weight control, brain and health functions, prevention of diseases, and total life longevity.”
This week I struggled with a topic that I wanted to write about. As I pondered I thought about what could be one single factor that all women could relate to in some way. It came to me as I was going through my nightly routine that most women in my opinion, do not get enough sleep. This set me off on my research for this week’s blog. In this discussion, I will pin point evidence from expert professionals, provide my own personal anecdotes, and also give you the opportunity to evaluate yourselves and your sleep patterns as well.
My Personal Story
It’s no secret….if you’ve known me for awhile, you know that I have led very hectic and chaotic lifestyle. For the past 8 years I have worked multiple jobs, while being a single mother of 2. Over the last 8 years I have managed to get up at 5 a.m. and go go go until sometimes 10 or 11:00 p.m. With that came the sleep deprivation, the physical changes, and the mood changes as well. I was not effectively managing myself; therefore I was not beneficial to my children either. I would catch myself drifting off to sleep in fast food drive thru lanes, at stop lights, at my kids’ recreational activities, and yes even on either one of my jobs. Over time, I did began to notice physical changes such as dark and deep circles under the eyes. Concealer became a must when before make up was not something that I would continously wear. I knew that it came from the lack of sleep but what else could I do? Coffee became my hype as well. On any given morning, I would load up the caffeine prior to leaving the house, stop and refill after dropping my kids off for school, and then twice more after getting to work. By 9:00 a.m. I had consumed at least 4 cups of coffee and my day had not even truly started yet. Of course by 3:00 p.m. I was in crash and burn mode. I would pick up the kids, take them home, prepare a quick meal, get in about 30 minutes of sleep then shoot to my evening job. On average, I was sleeping around 4-5 hours a night. Sleep became an after thought or a luxury when I was able to get any. Physically my weight over the years has bounced up and down. I fluctuated between 220 to 170 pounds. I never thought this could be related to my lack of sleep. It wasn’t until the pandemic slowed me down quite a bit that I was able to begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Now that I have been able to slow down a little I see major differences as related to my sleep patterns, physical appearance, weight, and mood.
Vitality & Sleep….Why do we need sleep?
An average female woman between the ages of 18-55 needs at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Women 55+ should get between 9-10 hours of sleep nightly. (www.sleepassociation.org) The following is the list of reasons why we as women need our required amount of sleep.
- Greater Immunity
- Weight Fluctuates
- Facial Appearance
- Depression/Anxiety Prevention
- Emotional & Social Well Being
- Increased Metabolism
- Inflammation Issues
It was revealing to me when I realized that the issues I was having were in direct correlation with my lack of sleep. Since April 2020 I have been able to create a sleep routine. With this sleep routine I have noticed a change in my physical appearance, weight, and mood. The dark lines that I felt were permanently engraved underneath my eyes like a bad tattoo are starting to fade. I no longer “crave” coffee to get me through the day. In place of coffee, I now work out 30 minutes a day and drink herbal tea. It is a refreshing reward rather than a “must” to get through my day. Also, my mood is much better. I am able to handle things that normally would cause me to “explode” or break down crying. I am able to concentrate, prioritize, and get through my day with less stress and feelings of anxiety. These are the ways that creating a sleep schedule have positively affected me.
When we sleep we are able to disconnect from the daily distractors of the world. It is the best recovery agent for our bodies ladies. Without even thinking about it, it is something that we naturally do, we heal our minds, bodies, and souls through the simple process of sleeping. If you are not getting enough sleep you are opening yourselves up to ailments, physical changes, and erratic moods. You can’t be the best you if you are not taking care of yourself. This topic as menial as it seems is just an example of one of the many ways we must care for ourselves.
Optimizing Sleep and Creating a Sleep Schedule
The following is a list of simple ways to optimize sleep and create a schedule. I hope that you will find it useful:
- Mute your electronic devices at the same time every night – This is an important one. I have emails and text messages that come in from co-workers, family members, and students at all hours of the night. I had to put it in my mind that my sleep is important. I now shut down my devices at around 10:00 p.m. nightly so that I can start the process of gaining uninterrupted sleep.
2. Regular Exercise – I try to work out at least 30 -45 minutes a day. It is nothing strenous! I bought a small treadmill that I use; I also walk in my neighborhood often. It just feels good and relaxing to move around.
3. Intermittent Fasting – Depending on your schedule intermittent fasting is beneficial. For me eating after 9:00 p.m. makes me feel sluggish and heavy. Therefore, I do intermittent fasting between the hours of 9:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m. There are schedules online that you can research to determine which schedule best fits you.
4. No Dependers- I was infamous for taking sleep aids, muscle relaxers, and drinking wine before bed; they became my dependents. Dependers lead to other things that cause unhealthy habits; try your best to develop habits that do not include depending on substances to help you sleep.
5. Embrace It! Get your sleep girl! Do not feel guilty about getting sleep. Prioritize your sleep schedule so that the rest of your family and friends recognizes how important it is for you to get your rest.
6. Develop Comfort – Create a comfortable surrounding to engage with; this will help you drift off to sleep as well. Turn the lights down low, spend a little money on some nice sheets and plush comforters, sleep on 35 pillows so that you feel like you are floating on a cloud! Just make your sleeping environment the most comfortable place you can. You deserve it!
7. Journal/Read – Writing can actually sooth the brain while reading can soothe the mind. Of course your content should not be anything hot and heavy or anything that requires much in depth analyzing and complex thinking. I wouldn’t suggest reading the latest errotic novel or the Wall Street Journal to settle you in for the night. Read or write about things that motivate and inspire you. Examples include women’s daily devotionals, inspirational quotes, poetic prose etc. When I journal I generally write about my experiences throughout my day or my family. I write about what makes me happy in general and what I am thankful for in my life.
8. Listening to Music – Lay back and listen to calming relaxing music or sounds! My husband knows that I am calm when I listen to soothing sounds such as running fans, light instrumentals, or sounds of the ocean. Therefore, he is ready with his playlist if I am having a difficult time falling asleep.
Sleep allows us to relax in our unconscience state of mind. It is in this state that we heal ourselves. It is in this state that we are free to dream and visualize. While in our dreams ladies we can relax, breathe, and exhale. We are free from the distractions of our daily day. We are open to creative imagery and scenes of figurative language. Sleep is advantageous in a plethora of ways!
So Ladies Sleep On! Your Body will Thank You for It!