The Reason Why Women Need More Sleep

It comes as no shock that parents are typically always tired. We see it everywhere how women need more sleep because there aren’t enough hours in the day. There are funny memes about it on social media, jokes on t-shirts, and even animations depicting the need for coffee and endless sleepiness. It’s true that this parenting thing is exhausting. However, there is an actual scientific connection between why moms are particularly more tired than dads.

It’s not just the running around after kids all day that makes moms so tired. According to the Sleep Foundation, studies have shown that women really do require more sleep than men for their bodies to be adequately recharged for the never-ending tasks the day brings. In fact, it’s not just mothers who need more slumber but women in general. Why? The answer is simple – women are wired differently than men. Not to stir up the debate on whether women are smarter than men, but the fact of the matter is there is scientific evidence that women have higher brain activity than men.

Women naturally tend to multi-task. It stands to reason that the more active you are, the more tired you become at the end of the day. This doesn’t just apply to women with children, however. Women in the workplace also apply multi-tasking abilities, both physically and mentally on a daily basis. The harder your brain works, the more rest it requires to reboot. Everybody is different and has different needs, but according to sleep studies women need an average of 20 minutes longer under the sheets than guys.

The hard reality is many don’t get enough sleep, but you didn’t need a study to prove that. Between work, the kids, and everyday life it seems impossible to balance getting the rest you need with getting everything done at the end of the day. Even when they have the opportunity to get the recommended amount of sleep, many suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia, or simply have difficulty falling asleep. Aside from your typical disturbances like the baby waking at night for feedings or your partner’s snoring, there are additional factors that can hinder your sleep quality like stress or anxiety. Hormones can also be responsible for robbing you from getting a good night’s rest.

Not getting enough sleep can have a detrimental impact on your overall health. The fact that women experience greater sleep loss than men puts them at a higher risk for health problems including depression. Sleep experts recommend getting in 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night for better cognitive function during the day.

Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Rest

When you lose sleep, it doesn’t just affect you. It can affect your entire household as well as your ability to function and can result in mishaps. You know the term ‘mommy brain’ and how so many claim it doesn’t go away after the baby is born? That’s most likely the result of inadequate rest. It’s no wonder why women need more sleep, so how do you get it?

The first step is trying to find balance between your daily routine and getting on a sleep schedule. This is easier said than done, especially when you see down time as the time you get to yourself once the kids are in bed. It’s tempting to want to get the rest of the chores done, catch up on your favorite shows or do a little internet browsing on your phone. Setting aside time to get the rest your body needs will improve your ability to function and can mean accomplishing more during the day than trying to do it when you’re running mostly on caffeine.

Get on a sleep schedule with your kids – you know the age-old advice of sleeping when baby sleeps? That still applies even after the infant years. Evidence shows that 14% of children that are in school are still waking up parents at night. Count on your baby or child waking you up at night and try to make up for it by getting on the same sleep schedule as them. After 6 months of age, most babies should be adapted to a sleep schedule. If your toddler or grade-school child is having difficulty staying on a sleep schedule or frequently waking up at night you may want to talk to your child’s doctor for recommendations and to rule out potential health problems that may cause sleeplessness in children.

Take cat naps – a power nap can do wonders for your body. This isn’t always feasible when you work away from home, but you should still strive to get in naps during the day on weekends or days off.

Catch up on the weekend – Take advantage of the mornings when you don’t have to get up early to prepare the kids for school or daycare and work. Arrange for a morning of sleeping in by swapping days with your partner (i.e. you sleep in on saturday morning while he gets up with the kids and then let him sleep in on Sunday mornings). If you have family or close friends nearby, arrange for them to keep the kids one night so you can catch up on some much needed Zzzs.

Call in Reinforcements– the dangers of not getting the rest you need can have a significant impact on your quality of life, so when you can’t find the time to rest even on the weekends, call in for reinforcements. If the baby is keeping you up at night, look to a family member to help you by taking the night shift once a week or hire a nanny.

Take steps to De-Stress – If you find yourself losing sleep even with a set schedule and the kids sleeping through the night then it could be stress that’s keeping you up at night. Take steps to reduce your stress and prepare your body for rest. Take up yoga or a calming activity before bed. Don’t hesitate to seek your doctor for medical advice for managing stress and anxiety.

Despite the obvious reasons why women need more sleep when you become a parent sleep loss is inevitable. While there are several ways to try to get in more rest, the truth is you will not gain back the sleep you’ve lost. The dishes can wait and life will not cease because there is still laundry to be done. Have your kids help out with age-appropriate chores around the house to minimize the work load at home and avoid the temptation of catching up on housework while they’re asleep. Take time for yourself to get the rest your body needs so you can take on another day.

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