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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Women and Major Sleep Problems


Rose know that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has reported that 30% of all adults have insomnia, most of them women.  Lack of sleep can cause health issues like not eating a well-balance diet or exercising.  Before going to your doctor and getting a script for Ambiem the popular sleep aide used by Michael Jackson and now Tiger Woods, let’s find out if you really need a sleeping pill or a glass of alcohol to get to sleep. Here are some common questions asked about women and major sleep problems:


·         Do I need eight hours of sleep?


According to Gregg D. Jacobs, MD., an insomnia specialist at the Sleep Disorders Center, University of Massachusetts and the author of Say Goodnight to Insomnia, he found through a sleep study that those who sleep seven hours may live longer than those that sleep eight or more.  Too much sleep can cause health issues too as it has been linked to obesity and diabetes, he says. Sleeping 12 or more hours a night could be a sign of depression or chronic fatigue syndrome and should be discussed with your physician.


Most women get roughly 6.5 hours a night on average and are walking around with a chronic sleep deficit.  Many people can thrive on less as it has been determined by a University of Utah study as genetics play an important part in the amount of sleep we need.  Finding the right amount of shut eye you require may depend on signs of sleep deprivation such as restlessness, mood swings, a lack of concentration, forgetfulness and narcolepsy during the day.


·         Do women suffer from insomnia more than men?


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women are twice as likely to have insomnia as men.  Why?  Hormones, age, stress, lifestyle, diet and general health can offset someone’s sleeping patterns.  Married women sleep better than single women, but newly married recount for less.  Women that have lost their spouse or those that have young children lose sleep according to the journal Sleep.


·         Will an alcoholic drink help me get a good night’s sleep?


It might get you to sleep, but you will have a harder time staying asleep.  If you suffer from sleep apnea alcohol will only make you snore louder and aggravate the disorder.  Ambien with alcohol intensifies the affect of the drug and can lead to blackouts, memory loss or erratic behavior (some say that the mixture will make you sexually aggressive) as this has been used as a date rape drug or sexual enhancement as stated in reports about Tiger Woods.


·         Are sleeping pills addictive?


Sleeping pills that are known as non-benzodiazepine hypnotics are safe for a few night, but are not advised for longer than a month as people have become psychologically dependent on them.  There are also side effects associated with sleeping pills such as daytime restlessness, “foggy” feeling and memory loss.  If you take sleeping pills adhere to the warnings, like may impair driving.  They are also not for those that are pregnant or nursing.  To cure insomnia it is better to adopt better sleeping habits and make some alternative lifestyle changes than rely on sleeping pills.

·         What if I like to nap in the afternoon, am I sick or lazy?

If you are like me you enjoy taking a nap especially after lunch and daytime naps 45 minutes or less can give you the energy and improved memory to make it through the rest of the day.  Naps that are longer or after 4pm can affect your ability to fall asleep at your bedtime.  Some people get sleep inertia which is a temporary disorientation after waking from a nap. 


·         Does watching TV, playing video games or reading in bed make me sleepy?

When you are in bed you need to leave your daily activities behind.  If you are watching a scary movie or wondering how to beat the monster in a video game it is harder to turn off these thoughts and go to sleep.  If you want to read a book, make it a part of your nightly routine.  Your brain will associate reading as part of the time to prepare for sleep just like; getting on your non-constrictive pajamas, having a cup of tea or taking a warm bath.


Your bed should be a haven for sleep and intimacy only and if you find yourself tossing and turning get up for a bit before trying to fall asleep again.  Make sure your bedroom temperature is 65 degrees or less.  If you are too warm this may be the reason you can’t relax.

·         Is there any way to make up sleep once you’ve lost it?

Sorry, but once you lost sleep it is gone no matter if you sleep 12 hours the next night.  If you suffer from insomnia and sleep in on the weekends it gives you the same affect as jet lag.  This is due to the fact that you disrupted your natural sleep cycle.  It only complicates the consistent sleep rhythm, as those lost hours of sleep will eventually go away on its own.  Getting upset about losing sleep causes a 'cycle of stress' that will just make your insomnia worse.


·         Can I lose weight while sleeping?

Too much sleep or too little can cause weight gain. Appetite-controlling hormones such as leptin and ghrelin play a role in losing weight while we sleep.  But remember, when we are tired we have a tendency to want to eat prior to going to bed.  This will not only add calories, but will affect your ability to fall asleep as some foods cause indigestion, heart burn and acid reflux.  Limit food intake to at least 2-3 hours before retiring.  Don’t eat anything hot or spicy and by all means, when you’re tired go to bed, don’t eat!

·         Is it true if I think about something before fall asleep, I will dream about it?

While you sleep you dream during your REM or rapid eye movement sleep stage.  During REM your brain sorts out and processes information and memories you had during the day (or since last time you slept, for those that nap).  If you are thinking about stressful situations about family or work you are better off if you get a good night’s sleep, because the more refreshed you are the better you can concentrate on the issues in the morning.


·         Will a warm glass of milk help make me sleepy?

Food rich with the amino acid tryptophan cause you to get drowsy.  Ever wonder why you really want to nap after a holiday meal?  Turkey, milk, eggs, pumpkin, cereal, nuts and seeds are just some foods with tryptophan.  Tryptophan converts to melatonin and serotonin which are hormones that are produced in our body naturally that aid our wake/sleep cycle.  Melatonin is available as a supplement at your local pharmacy or health food store.  So, if you must have a late night snack before you go to sleep, have food that helps you to fall asleep.... like that warm glass of milk your mother gave you when you were a child.

For women and major sleep problems, like any major problem it is advisable to see your physician as he may recommend that you see a sleep specialist for further treatment.
Good Evening
Rose Sheepskill

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