sleep deprivation

Sleep Deprivation: What Midlife Women Need To Know

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Kim Acedo
Kim Acedo, MS, CHWC

by Kim Acedo, founder of Transformation Wellness For Women

“Millions of us are living a less than optimal life and performing at a less than optimal level, impaired by an amount of sleep debt that we’re not even aware we carry…We are not healthy unless our sleep is healthy.

After all the research I’ve done on sleep problems over the past four decades, my most significant finding is that ignorance is the worst sleep disorder of them all. People lack the most basic information about how to manage their sleep, leading to a huge amount of unnecessary suffering.”

–William Dement, pioneering sleep researcher

One impact of modern roadrunner lifestyles is that women (and men) are not getting enough sleep.

The impact of insufficient sleep tends to accumulate, like interest on the national debt.

In fact, if we skip two hours of sleep for four consecutive nights, our brains perform no better than if we were legally drunk.

Our ability and willingness to be reactive and pro-active, to sustain concentration, and to function at high capacity all get increasingly worse.

  • Sleep researcher William Dement asserts that no practice or training works to make our brains and bodies operate well with insufficient sleep. Our well-being and performance invariably suffer from sleep deprivation.
  • Further research by David Dinges at University of Pennsylvania showed that we are not very good at detecting when our mental abilities have been adversely affected by lack of sleep.

On the other hand, the closer we are to getting enough sleep, the more alert, energized, and resilient we can be.

Sound sleep practices make everything so much smoother.

Why?

Because the body uses sleep time to consolidate the day’s learning and re-balance its supply of biochemicals.

More precisely:

  • Serotonin levels rise, helping us feel cooler, calmer, and more upbeat, and making us better able to regulate our health behaviors.
  • Leptin levels are replenished, helping us better regulate food intake and feel more willing to spend energy in physical movement.
  • Dopamine levels rise, making us feel more energetic and capable.
  • Cortisol levels drop, making us less stressed, less prone to cravings, and less vulnerable to premature aging.

By the way, you may be interested to know that poor sleep is not a natural consequence of aging.

While menopause often does disrupt sleep (i.e. fluctuation of hormone levels, hot flashes, then freezing, anxiety, worrying about time, kids, parents, future, to name a few), poor sleep is often due to a combination of the symptoms of menopause plus lifestyle and life circumstances.

What’s more, it works the other way as well. As you improve your food and exercise habits, you should notice an improvement in your sleep.

It may however be a natural consequence of reduced physical activity, increased social isolation, or higher stress. The good news?  If your sleep patterns have gotten worse as you’ve gotten older, there are things you can do about it.

In my self-paced ReINVENT Your Health 6-week online course, I offer several tips and tools that will help you get a better night’s sleep.

Need some help? Schedule a 15-minute laser-coaching call with me here.

 

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