One of the marvellous benefits of a good exercise plan has to be how it promotes a good night's sleep. And for insomniacs out there, or those women with disturbed sleep patterns, the value of getting in some good quality z's cannot be underestimated. Juggling busy lives, it's no surprise that many women find that their mind is still racing when they hit the sack. Or at best they fall into an over-exhausted sleep only to wake a few hours later. A recent study suggests that a good sleep might be good for a woman's memory too!
Sleep is good for you, we all know this. However, not enough or even too much can leave you feeling either worn out or lacking energy and feeling sluggish. Another negative side effect is the impact a bad night's sleep has on memory too.
The Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston study involved 15,000 women in a Nurses' Health survey and all were asked about their sleep patterns in 1986 and 2000. Over a period of six years after these dates the women were questioned about their memory and also about their thinking skills, At this point they were all aged 70 or older.
While direct proof of poor sleep affecting memory later in life could not be established, the study did show a link between sleep and memory. The findings suggests that those women who slept for five hours or fewer per night as well as those women who slept for nine hours or more did not perform as competently later on than those who were getting a mean average of around seven or eight hours of sleep each night.
Getting a good night's sleep
More research is needed but there is a growing amount of evidence to suggest that too much or too little sleep might be detrimental to health, such as being linked to high blood pressure and diabetes. Hormones can play a part in disturbing women's sleep patterns, as can stress and over-tiredness, along with many other factors. Whatever the real impact of your sleep habits on your wellbeing, here's our mini-guide to getting a good nap in and waking up to feel refreshed.
- Don't go to bed too late: Have you ever been exhausted early in the evening only to have a second-wind of energy? Listen to your body. If you were tired hours ago you will be even more tired hours later, so don't stay up late running on empty, as you might find you're too tired to sleep. When you do sleep you might find that you oversleep too.
- Don't eat too late: A full stomach can create issues with acid reflux if you lie down soon after eating, Also, falling asleep when you are full up from eating can make you feel bloated, create indigestion and interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
- Relax before you go to bed: Just as children need the transition from being hectic and running around to going to bed, so too do you. Turn off the TV and read a book; dim the lighting and sip a peppermint tea; let your mind unwind and your body relax from the day's demands. By de-stressing you are preparing your whole self for a restful sleep.
- Aim for 7-8 hours with a set schedule: Work out when you have to be up and work backwards to find out the best time to go to sleep, bearing in mind that it may take you a while to drop off. You will soon get into a pattern whereby you have trained your body to be naturally tired at a certain time. Once you've stuck to your schedule you should find that you naturally respond to it and enjoy a good sleep each night.
- Exercise!: Keep active and you will promote good sleep patterns. As well as relaxing the body and the mind, exercise in the afternoon or early evening can raise your body temperature, which then falls, lulling you into a restful state. Be wary not to work out too hard late at night as you won't wear yourself out but actually stimulate yourself too much instead. By improving healthy and positively combating stress, as well as balancing the hormones and releasing feel-good neurotransmitters, exercise is the perfect antidote to not enough or way too much sleep.
Are you sleeping well? If not, then let us help you fall into the perfect slumber each night through our lifestyle exercise programs.