Sealy: The change in women’s sleep a look through the decades
Women’s physical and mental needs change and impact their sleep as they age.
When we’re so focussed on daily tasks, we rarely think about the other half of our time: When we’re sleeping. We spend almost a third of our lives asleep, and though we may not realise it, our sleep patterns change as we age.
To maintain optimal health, it’s important to understand what these changes are to both your physical and mental needs.
Adult years – from 20 to 40
As women enter adulthood, their priorities and time commitments naturally change. Typically, the sleep pattern of a healthy adult requires six to nine hours of sleep. Depending on a number of factors, like lifestyle and responsibilities, being deprived of sleep in your adult years is felt more acutely than in your teens.
You have more on your mind as an adult. Work, relationships, family responsibilities, finance, health, etc. can take a toll on your stress levels, thus affecting your sleep.
Even though your college party days may be behind you, alcohol overconsumption is a real thing and will lead to sleep problems. This not only affects your mental health during the day but can also affect your ability to sleep well at night.
How sleep changes from 50 to 60
As women approach their 50s, their hormones begin to change, causing perimenopause, menopause, and finally, postmenopause. Each woman experiences these stages differently, but many women report having hot flashes, mood swings and poor sleep during menopause.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that 61% of women in perimenopause or menopause experience poor sleep during menopause. The issues reported include waking up in the night, night sweats, insomnia, and breathing problems, like apnea. All of this causes poor sleep. Lower quality sleep is linked with feeling fuzzy-headed, a reduced ability to form memories and make decisions, and depression.
Additionally, as women pass middle age and move into the realm of seniorhood, they produce less growth hormone, and as a result, experience less deep sleep or REM (rapid eye movement), which is a restorative sleep.
Elderly people tend to sleep and wake early. Sleep patterns are likely to be fragmented as a result of reduced REM. As a result, the body produces less melatonin.
This can lead to a lot of physical problems, like diabetes, weight problems and even breast cancer. What’s worse is that senior adults tend to need more medication for their various ailments, which can compound sleep problems.
Tips for getting better sleep at any age:
- Give yourself a bedtime. Just like you would set a bedtime for a child because you love them and want them to get their rest, you need to do the same for yourself. Pick a time and stick with it nightly.
- Create an evening routine. Have a set of steps that you do each night to tell your body it’s time to go to sleep. The routine might include skincare, brushing your teeth, and dressing for bed. Try do them in the same order every night.
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine keeps you awake, so try to avoid it after 3:00 p.m. This includes caffeinated teas and chocolate. Though many people think alcohol helps them sleep, in fact, it decreases the quality of your rest. Try to avoid it in the evening.
- Avoid screens at night. An hour before bedtime, put away your computer, tablet, and phone. These devices keep you awake and your brain stimulated.
- Block out the sound and light. Consider investing in sleep aids like earplugs, a sleep mask, a white noise machine, or blackout curtains. These devices can help make your bedroom more conducive to sleep.
- Practice meditation, journal writing, or yoga. Stress also makes it harder to fall asleep. Consider adding in some quiet, contemplative activity as part of your evening routine.
- Sleep in cool fabrics. Many menopausal women experience hot flashes and night sweats. Look for bedclothes and sheets that are cooling and comfortable to sleep in.
- Inspect your mattress. If your mattress is old or uncomfortable, it could be interfering with your sleep. Memory foam mattresses tend to get hot because the dense material lacks interconnected air channels and as a result heat is easily absorbed. Spring mattresses, like the Sealy Crown Jewel collection, are especially made with a cover fabric that is cool-to-the-touch and encourages climate control and breathability. The Sealy Crown Jewel is also made with a wool filling, which is important in maintaining the perfect bed climate. Pure, new wool has a natural ability to both warm and cool, helping you stay dry and relaxed at a comfortable temperature. This is ideal for menopausal women who experience hot flushes during the night.
Sleep is vital for physical and mental health. In the short term, missing even just a few hours of sleep can affect how you function during the day. Over the long run, sleep is required for a healthy immune system. These seven tips are a great start to ensuring a perfect night’s rest.
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