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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Are You Sleep-Deprived?

Jan 07, 2006 12:00AM

Ask any mother if she's tired, and chances are she'll respond with a resounding "Yes!" Although it may be normal for women to have more interrupted sleep than men, sleep experts say that it is dangerous for women to continue to average an hour and a half less sleep than they need.

A flurry of studies conducted in recent years have shown that short-term sleep deprivation can lower a woman's glucose tolerance, increase her blood pressure, interfere with her ability to concentrate, and contribute to excess drinking, even during pregnancy.

A 2003 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found long-term sleep deprivation can boost a woman's risk for coronary disease. In fact, women who get five hours of sleep a night are 40 percent more likely to have heart problems than those who sleep the recommended eight hours.

Lack of sleep also may help explain why women are more likely than men to pack on extra pounds. In 2004, researchers at Columbia University in New York found that people who sleep two to four hours are 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who sleep eight hours. Those who sleep for five hours are 50 percent more likely to be obese. Authorities say a lack of sleep may also help explain women's increased risk for depression, which the National Institutes of Health reports is twice as common in women as men.

8 Tips to Develop Better Sleep Habits

  1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  2. Develop a ritual to assist you in relaxing; read, take a bath…
  3. Sleep in a dark, quiet room.
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol use.
  5. Avoid the regular use of sleeping pills.
  6. Plan regular daily exercise, preferably in the evening, but avoid strenuous exercise for at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
  7. Avoid routine daily naps.
  8. If you awaken during the night, do not stay awake for more than 30 minutes. Get out of bed, read, or engage in another quiet but productive activity. Try to sleep again in an hour, and if you are still unable to sleep, repeat this cycle.