The battle of the sexes continues as women get the shorter end of the stick regarding sleep.
Below is an article by Dr. Charu Sabharwal, Founder and Director of the Comprehensive Sleep Care Center and a prominent sleep expert in the Washington, DC area. We welcome you to post this informative article in your next publication.
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 28 – As a woman and a sleep specialist physician, I find myself affected by the very things I often hear my patients talk with me about at my sleep health center. I, also have a few sleepless or less restful nights as a result of busy, multitasking days which tend to encroach into the evening as well. There are too many nights, I find myself answering emails at 1 a.m.
Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus as clinical studies have shown that women sleep differently than men and need more sleep than men. We can take longer to fall asleep, tend to be more sleep deprived, are at increased risk of insomnia and often report different symptoms than men. Women who report sleepless nights may have a greater risk for health issues than men. A recent study led by Edward Suarez, Ph.D. an associate professor at Duke University Medical Center that looked at the relationship between poor sleep and poor health found that women who reported unhealthy sleep are at an elevated risk for heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, memory issues, brain fog, depression, anxiety and are more prone to likely display worsening mood, anger or hostility after insufficient sleep than men.
Dr. Suarez reported that, “the differences are so remarkable and while most studies have shown that poor sleep is bad for overall health, few studies have looked at gender differences.” Why are sleep-deprived women at higher risk? Testosterone. Levels of this hormone rise after poor sleep in men, and “because it decreases insulin and increases muscle mass, testosterone has an anti-inflammatory effect, which kept men’s stress hormones lower,” he explained.
Unluckily for us, women’s hormones, especially progesterone, do not have that same stress response dampening effect. Estrogen is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect, so the decline in the hormone as we get older contributes to our sleep health and how it impacts us the next day.
Sleep is crucial to our health and affects our beauty both inside and out
As women, it seems we tend to get the shorter end of the stick regarding sleep. We are vulnerable to devastating sleep deprivation as new mothers, to nerve-racking insomnia as we dive into menopause and in post-menopause, we are at greater risk for sleep apnea, a dangerous and often undiagnosed sleep disorder in which a person unknowingly stops breathing potentially many times throughout the night .
Not only do we need to get more sleep. We need to pay attention to how we sleep or our Sleep Apneatude. If you have sleep apnea, the muscles that normally keep your airway open relax around your airway and it’s when the airway gets so narrow that breathing can be a struggle. Sleep Apneatude is how well your airway can stay open and allow normal breathing at night. This can determine the quality of your sleep, your health, and thus the quality of your day tomorrow.
Typically, sleep apnea is harder to detect in women. The symptoms are less pronounced and misdiagnosis can occur. As women, we self-screen for breast cancer by examining our breasts on a monthly basis, and we can also self-screen for sleep apnea and determine our Sleep Apneatude.
Determine your Sleep Apneatude:
Recognize: About 80 to 90 % of women with sleep breathing interruptions are not aware they are doing it. We tend to relate snoring to older, overweight men, however we women can snore as well. Recent clinical studies have found more women of all ages and sizes suffer from some form of obstructive sleep apnea, or disruptive breathing during sleep.
Evaluate: Ask your bed mate or a friend to observe you for 10 or so minutes after you have been asleep for a while. Are you making any noises? Breathing with your mouth open? Grinding your teeth? Snoring? Gasping noises? Snorting? Wake up with a dry mouth? Tossing and turning? If so, these could be signs you may have a sleep issue and you’re not getting the quality sleep you need.
Think about how well you’ve been feeling during the day. Do you often feel exhausted or fatigued? May experience brain fog? Memory feels off? Feel irritable or moody, possibly anxious? If you look in the mirror does your face show signs of fatigue as well?
Schedule: As women we tend to do for others, and put ourselves last. Best thing you can do is to be proactive. If you suspect you are having breathing issues at night or other sleep issues, schedule an appointment with a sleep medicine physician for a consult. Only a physician who specializes in sleep medicine can give you a proper diagnosis.
As women we are juggling a lot of balls in the air, and making sure we’re getting a healthy, restful sleep each night is critical to keeping the balls from falling.
Comprehensive Sleep Care Center is among the Washington, D.C.
area’s most experienced medical practices for expert diagnosis, treatment and care for sleep disorders in people of all ages. Dr. Charu Sabharwal is board-certified in internal medicine and is a fellow of the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center. She is a graduate of Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, Karnataka, India.
Connect with Comprehensive Sleep Care Center:
19441 Golf Vista Plaza, Ste. 140, Lansdowne, VA 20176
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am-5:30 pm
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