Sleep: What you need to know

Sleep is defined as a reversible and periodic natural pattern in which your body is at a state of reduced consciousness and low response to outside stimuli. Your muscle activity also becomes diminished. Unlike animals, the human brain is wholly involved in sleep. In some mammals such as the whale and dolphins, sleep occurs in one hemisphere of their brain before shifting to the next.

Good sleep comes at a cost. In a 24-hour cycle, you need to spend a third of your time sleeping. No human being can do without sleep as it forms an important part of our wellbeing. Your body system is entirely dependent on sleep and would break down if it lacked sleep. It’s not only about the important organs such as your heart and brain, but your immune function and metabolism as well. Without enough sleep, your body stands a high chance of suffering from other sleep-related disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and even depression.

What is the ideal number of hours you should sleep?

The number of sleep hours one needs varies with age. To aid brain development, babies need 14-16 hours of sleep. This is in contrast to teenagers who wrap it up with 9.5 hours. Most adults will do 7-8 hours of sleep which is the optimum sleep time recommended for them. As one age beyond 60, their sleep hours tend to be short and less heavy, always interrupted because of medications and age-related complications. Some may find that taking a supplement (such as those from Gundry MD) to help keep their energy up during the day can help them manage these changes that come as we get older, however.
A good night’s sleep reduces the heart’s workload, since blood pressure and heart rate go down while you sleep. When people are sleep-deprived, their heart rate is less variable, meaning that instead of fluctuating normally, the heart rate usually stays elevated. Furthermore, new studies suggest that adults who sleep more than the recommended amount are more likely to develop heart disease and die sooner. Therefore, when it comes to fixing a sleep regime that goes with a healthy heart, it would be advisable to consult a doctor from the Cardiovascular Group or any other health care practitioner. By doing so, you can tackle almost all of your sleep-related concerns.

Does gender affect your sleep pattern?

Past researches can confirm that women are more likely to sleep heavily as compared to men. The chances of women getting sleep-related complications are also higher than that of men. One study carried out about women’s sleep patterns by the National Sleep Foundation gave some interesting findings. About 20% of adult women were found to have heavy sleep coupled with excessive tiredness. The research found that sleeping disorders are high in younger women as well. This does not in any way mean that men are better off when it comes to sleep hygiene.

For women, a number of factors affect their sleep patterns. Literally speaking, women have more physiological functions to bear as compared to men.

  • Menstrual cycle

Women tend to experience menstrual complications in the days leading to their period and during the period itself. Problems stemming from their periods range from bloating, general pain and cramps. These discomforts lead to reduced sleep in women. More to these challenges, their body temperatures rise during ovulation.

A high body temperature denies you heavy sleep as it fits best in cool temperatures. When feeling hotter than usual, have a hot bath before bedtime. This helps your body adjust to its core temperatures. When your body temperature rises because of ovulation, it creates a hot temperature that disrupts your fixed body temperature. A hot bath and a cool sleeping environment save you the trouble. You might even want to read up on articles that might assist you in finding alternative solutions to help with period pain.

Four Hormones are involved in your menstrual cycle. Their imbalances could rid of you of sleep as well. Just before your periods begin these hormones fall but begin to rise at different phases of your menstrual cycle. The Progesterone hormone rises after ovulation. In some women, this causes sleepiness.

There is also the Estrogen hormone that rises during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Two hormones, the Follicle stimulating hormone and the Luteinizing hormone act as catalysts to the production of Estrogen hormone. However, Estrogen is not known for causing discomfort. Hormonal imbalances interfere with your sleep clock. Women complain of feeling depressed before and after periods.

  • Pregnancy

Carrying a pregnancy for almost a year is no mean feat for women. It brings with it substantial physiological processes that could greatly alter their sleep habits. Hormones tamper with your metabolism and general well-being interfering with your physical appearance and emotions. For instance, most women experience frequent night wakes during their third trimester of pregnancy.

The Progesterone hormone has profound effects on a woman’s sleep pattern. It reduces sleep waiting time as well as night wakefulness. On the contrary, Progesterone will also leave you with heartburns and a more urge for urination.

Estrogen is one other pregnancy hormone that you don’t want to ignore. Estrogen reduces the amount of sleep at the REM stage. It causes vasodilatation, leading to edema on your legs and feet. Other hormones that could generally affect your sleep patterns and general wellbeing include oxytocin, prolactin and melatonin.

  • Menopause

This affects women in their 40s and 50s. Still, Estrogen and Progesterone hormones have a role to play in your menopause. At these ages, the two sleep hormones begin to decline. Consequently, your normal sleep patterns are disrupted. Menopause also brings with it other baggage’s that include anxiety, frequent mood changes and sweating at night.

Both perimenopause and menopause have the potential of giving you sleep disorders. Also called the menopause transition, perimenopause has the potential of causing sleep disorders in women. These disorders include sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and insomnia.

Next steps

Women can’t avoid these physiological factors, especially matters relating to their hormones. However, they can adjust their lifestyle habits and sleep environment to support their quest for quality sleep. One of the factors to consider is the comfortability of their beddings. This could be investing in double duvets from SleepSeeker, perhaps even some new pillows as well to increase comfort levels.

Also, having a mattress that is comfortable for your sleep is very important as it is what you will lie on for the next 7-8 hours. I would recommend the Casper mattress if in search of comfort. Casper mattress reviews shade more light on their usefulness and importance. Try one and you won’t have to regret later.


Human beings spent up to a third of their time sleeping. Sleep varies with age and this explains why babies and toddlers have to sleep for longer hours compared to teenagers and young adults. What turns out to be more interesting is that sleep also varies according to gender. The most affected gender are women. They are naturally predisposed to physiological conditions that alter their hormonal levels disrupting their sleep patterns as well. All these said, they can still get good sleep by adjusting their lifestyle habits and sleep environment.

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