Sleep and Women's Health
The Necessity of Quality Sleep
Adequate and fulfilling sleep is a key component to women staying healthy and living a long and happy life. Our bodies typically require a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night to function normally. Studies show that women who sleep 6 or less hours have reduced reaction time when driving, increased mood swings, and in some cases serious damage to the body due to lack of adequate sleep. Women are also twice as likely to experience insomnia-related symptoms as their male counterparts.
There is a higher occurrence of obesity in individuals who are sleep deprived by as little as one hour each night than those who sleep adequately. The hormones leptin and ghrelin monitor and control feelings of hunger and satiation and are directly affected by sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep may lead to weight gain in many women.
Research shows a link between increased estrogen levels found during pregnancy and the occurrence of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) in women. RLS is described as a strange “creepy-crawly” sensation or an urge to move the legs when at rest and can be very uncomfortable.
Sleep apnea is of major concern during pregnancy due to the amount of weight gained by many women as part of a healthy pregnancy. The risk for developing preeclampsia increases in women suffering from sleep apnea, as does the risk of developing gestational diabetes. The baby can also be affected by the mother’s sleep apnea as low birth weight is common in women diagnosed with untreated sleep apnea.
Menopause & Beyond
Menopausal women experience a drastic change in hormonal function and experience more severe snoring which may be symptomatic of sleep apnea. Numerous studies link sleep apnea to increased blood pressure which can lead to stroke and heart disease. It is estimated that 50% of patients with high blood pressure also suffer from sleep apnea. Hormonal deficiencies, night sweats and other menopause-related issues interfere with sleep.
Can you identify with any of these statements?
- “I just can’t seem to find the time to sleep properly.”
- “My kids keep me up most nights with their needs.”
- “I can’t turn off my mind to fall asleep and sometimes wake up worrying about things I have to do.”
- “My partner tells me that I am snoring at night.”
- “I often feel sensations in my legs when trying to sleep and the only way to relieve it is to get up and walk around.”
- “I have gained 10 or more pounds over the last year.”
- “My hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms make it impossible for me to sleep.”
If you can relate to any of these statements, speak with your doctor or contact us for more information about possible sleep disorders. Treating sleep disorders dramatically improves overall health and quality of life.
The Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester is a state-of-the-art diagnostic center that provides the highest quality of care in a hotel-like setting under the direction of board certified physicians. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us at 914-787-4400.