women and sleep

In honor of Women’s Health Week, here are some important connections between sleep and women’s health. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

In honor of Women’s Health Week which will be held from May 11th to the 17th this year, we wanted to focus in on the link between sleep and women’s health. Research in recent years has repeatedly demonstrated how crucial sleep is to our overall health and our potential for longevity. Studies linking sleep deprivation to everything from obesity to heart disease highlight how important it is to get the 7 to 9 hours of sound sleep each night recommended by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). And yet, we continue to treat sleep as something that is optional enough that we can simply skip some of it if we don’t have time.

To help underscore just how important sleep is to women’s health, here are some of the most recent studies that demonstrate why you need to pay as much attention to how much sleep you get as you do to what you eat and how much you work out.


Daytime Sleepiness Indicates Increased Heart Disease Risk

A new study indicates that women who experience frequent bouts of daytime sleepiness may have unknown underlying conditions that put them at a greater risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. The study included data from more than 80,000 women which showed women with daytime sleepiness had more than double the risk for developing cardiovascular problems.


Daytime Naps Increase Risk of Death by One Third 

A study conducted at Cambridge University indicates that taking naps during the day can increase the risk of dying by as much as a third. Adults between the ages of 40 and 65 who took regular naps of 1 hour or more during the day were twice as likely to die during the study period as their non-napping peers.   Participants aged 40-79 who took regular naps lasting less than an hour were 14% more likely to die in the 13 year period following the start of the study. While researchers are not clear on causality, they believe the increase risk of death is related to the development of respiratory ailments.


Sleeping Close Keeps Couples Happy

If you want a happy relationship, sleep closer to your partner. A new study found that couples who slept closer together, with less than 2.5 cm of space between them, were more likely than those with a gap of 76 cm or more to be happy with their relationship. Making physical contact while sleeping also helps keep us happy as those of us who make physical contact while sleeping are happier than those who don’t.

In addition, more couples who spent the night making physical contact were happy than those with a “no touching” rule while trying to sleep.


Moody? Maybe You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

If you are cranky and moody, it may not be PMS, it may simply be a lack of sleep. Research from Nova Southeastern University is in the midst of conducting research into how our sleep habits impact our emotions. Initial results indicate that when it comes to emotional regulation, how well you sleep may be more important than how much you sleep.   Lack of sleep seems to cause hyper-emotional responsiveness which makes it more difficult to control our emotional responses.