Can’t sleep? Women at risk

March 18, 2008

Yesterday it was reported in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity that women with sleep problems have higher levels of biomarkers for cardiovascular disease and diabetes than do men who can’t sleep. Poor sleep patterns in this instance is defined as problems falling asleep, taking 30 minutes or more to fall asleep, or awakening frequently. Apparently, researchers at Duke University found that such women also have greater psychological distress than men who sleep poorly. The difference in gender risk is marked, as when comparing men and women with the same poor sleep patterns, they found that the women had high levels of C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and insulin, leading to higher risks of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

The women who had the biggest risk were those who took over half an hour to fall asleep, so if this is you it could be time to look at alternative methods to aid sleep such as camomile tea, valerian or a warm, not hot, bath with lavender oil before going to bed. If those simple methods don’t help, then you might also consider looking at these factors:

Are you a late night snacker?
Avoid anything containing grains and sugars (biscuits, cakes, bread, crackers) before bedtime as they will raise your blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when your blood sugar drops back to a lower level then you might wake up and not be able to get back to sleep.

Is your bedroom dark enough?
If there is even the tiniest bit of light in the room it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and seratonin. If you get up in the night to go to the bathroom then try and keep any light to a minimum because as soon as you turn on a light your body responds and immediately ceases all production of the important sleep aid melatonin and doesn’t recommence that night at all.

Late night tv watcher?
Watching tv right before bed is too stimulating to the brain and it will take longer to fall asleep. If you must watch, stay in the living room and don’t have set in your bedroom. Watching tv in bed is also disruptive of pineal gland function for the same reason as light in the bathroom/bedroom.

Cold feet?
Because our feet have the poorest circulation, they often feel cold before the rest of the body. A study has shown that wearing socks to bed reduces the possibility of you waking through feeling cold.


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