Why women sleep worse than men? What you can do about it!

Women, this is our week! We started the week with International Women´s Day and will end it honouring those women who gave birth to us. So, the least I could do is to dedicate a blog to you: those extraordinary women! I have listened to so many different testimonies from my female customers, and I am aware that each stage of your life brings you different challenges that affect your Sleep and Mental Health. I totally hear ya, been there, experienced that! 

Some research shows that women are twice as likely to have insomnia as men. Unfortunately, insomnia and sleep difficulties disproportionately affect women in Ireland due in no small part to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause.

I will talk about the difficulties us women face in each stage of our life in this blog, and I will share some tips to combat them (don't worry it's not all doom and gloom!) and tell you how Kocoono™ weighted products can help you. It is not a coincidence that 80% of our customers in Ireland are women!

Menstruation

 Sleep foundation points out that women with premenstrual syndrome are at least twice as likely to experience insomnia before and during their period.

During menstruation, we need warmth, hugs and lots of chocolate! Why?? 

There is a scientific reason! The brain receives less serotonin and endorphins, affecting mood, desire to sleep, appetite and even sensitivity. By increasing carbohydrate intake, we self-medicate ourselves with food to generate a spike in serotonin and feel better! Same with hugs! We seek physical contact, and especially hugs, as the deep pressure provided by them increases dopamine and serotonin levels, our "happy chemicals".

For some of us, the symptoms are worse about a week or two before our period. It is then when we call it Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). In the days preceding our menstruation, it is frequent to note physical and emotional changes: headaches, mood changes, fatigue, irritability, bloating, and sleep disturbances. If you have a partner that does not fully understand these changes, I recommend gently leaving Eckhart Tolle's book "The Power of Now" beside their bed. Chapter 8, in particular, focuses on a deep understanding of all these changes. Tolle believes that women are naturally closer to enlightenment, as they are also naturally closer to their bodies. He points out how a strong, emotionally mature man can support the women in his life and in turn, reach spiritual enlightenment. 

Sleep foundation points out that women with premenstrual syndrome are at least twice as likely to experience insomnia before and during their period. 

How to reduce PMS symptoms and sleep problems? 

  • Kocoono™ Weighted Blankets can provide you with the feeling of a hug when you need it most. Pressure therapy releases oxytocin and increases your happy chemicals, making you feel comforted and "cocooned".

  • Kocoono™ Weighted Eye Pillow can be great for those who suffer from headaches during menstruation. The best way to combat headaches with the Weighted Eye Pillow is by using its cooling relief effect. You just need to insert the inner pillow into the freezer (in a sealable plastic bag) or cool down in the fridge (depending on your cooling preference), lie down and place the cooling eye pillow over your eyes, recover from visual overload and relax!

Pregnancy

Is it OK to sleep with a weighted blanket while pregnant?
Some studies suggested that at least 50% of pregnant women have Insomnia! Why? There are several reasons! 

From the moment women get pregnant, our hormones take a rollercoaster ride! We have a multitude of physiological changes that affect our sleep health. 

During pregnancy, women may develop restless legs syndrome, a nervous system disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations in their legs and the impulse to move them. The painful feelings frequently appear during sleep, causing frequent disturbances in the circadian rhythm. Sleep apnea and headaches are also common during pregnancy due to weight gain and other hormonal changes in the body. 

Settling on which position to sleep in is another challenge that a woman faces during pregnancy! 

How to reduce sleep problems during pregnancy? 

  • Adjusting your sleep position is so essential. Which is the best position for pregnant women? The Sleep Foundation considers sleeping on the left side with the legs slightly curled is the best position for pregnant women to get optimal sleep and comfort. 
  • Some natural ways to treat Restless Leg Syndrome and cramps during pregnancy include massages and relaxation techniques before bedtime.
  • Have good sleep hygiene to trigger your body into knowing this is what happens when it's time for bed. Have a look at our recommended sleep hygiene practices in our blog: Sleep Hygiene: 5 Practices to improve your sleep

Can Kocoono Weighted Blankets be used during pregnancy? How to use them? 

I recommend that you always follow your doctor's recommendations. From my personal experience, I can say that I have had several pregnant female customers using the blanket and got better relief throughout the night. Kocoono™ Blankets can help with cramps and restless leg syndrome by acting as a hug and the next best thing to a massage, stimulating pressure points in the body thanks to its distributed weight, and enabling the nervous system to calm naturally. Pressure therapy helps relieve the tension in all the muscles, making it easier to wind down before bed. Additionally, the weight encourages stillness in the legs that can decrease the impulse to move them while sleeping, reducing the restless feeling and all the other symptoms that can occur at night.

Out of our two Kocoono™ blankets the most suitable option for pregnant women is the Kocoono™ Weighted Blanket Luxe as it allows you to remove weights in certain areas of your body, and in that way, you could remove the strips around your belly, if the pressure felt uncomfortable there or you could cool sections down if you were experiencing intense hot flashes at night time.

 Postpartum 

New mothers (postpartum) may struggle to sleep as they try and match their babies sleep pattern.

New mothers (postpartum) may struggle to sleep as they try and match their babies sleep pattern. Babies have not yet developed a circadian rhythm so postpartum women trying to match their babies sleep and wake times can cause some issues and yes sadly that means more "sleepless nights".

There is also a natural shift in the brain/body behaviour of new mothers to be more alert and listen for the baby. 

Women that have just had a baby tend to have too much bright light at night time as they get up to feed their babies at all hours of the night, and not enough natural light during the day as they try and catch up on sleep they missed out on the night before.

I must say after the many calls, emails, and messages I receive from women or loved ones looking for a solution to their sleep problem, this brain and body alertness does not solely affect new mothers. Women with grown children (one lady had 12) would often tell me they would always be on high alert even into their 60' and 70's due to constant worry about their grown children for years. The women I often speak to do not have an "off switch", and their brains are still on high alert when they lay their head down at night time.

The worrying does not stop and neither does the bodies amazing capacity for maternal instincts and the innate need to protect and ensure everyone is okay. 

Nurses, doctors, shift workers and all manner of different occupations can have this experience also when you are caring for someone else the body is naturally on high alert. I would have experienced this when working in the homeless services during sleepover shifts, having light (poor quality) sleep and wake to almost any noise as my body was unable to switch off enough to relax as I was waiting for a client to get up, the phone to ring, an accident to happen. My body knew I was not in my own bed and that I had a job to do so even if it was a quiet service, my brain and body was on high alert. Until I started bringing my Kocoono™ Weighted Blanket to work, and finally, my body could calm, and I could finally switch off and have a better quality sleep so I would be energised for the clients the following day when they needed me to be at my best. That was a bit of a side tangent but I hope it resonated, so back to the topic at hand, new Mammies!! 

How to deal with sleep deprivation as a new mom?

  • As a new mother, to support your bodies natural sleep rhythm, it is important to practice positive sleep habits. It is vital to get outside (even for a few minutes early in the day to let the body know it is daytime. 
  • Have schedules with your partner to feed the baby and try to sleep as much as you can when the baby is asleep!
  • There can be some very distressing issues that linger on into the 4th trimester or occur for women during this time suffering from issues such us extreme pain in the back, sore neck or tailbone pain, among others. Suzanne Carney is a Clinical Specialist in Women’s and Pelvic Health Physiotherapy based in Ireland. You can visit her website to learn more about these issues and deal with them through an individualised treatment. Suzanne's practice is in Co. Mayo and she has a wealth of knowledge and passion to share with new Moms about taking care of their body. 
  • Kocoono Weighted Blankets combined with sleep hygiene practices can help you to fall asleep. The Deep Touch pressure Therapy applied by the weight of a Kocoono™ Weighted Blanket activates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) immediately, slowing your heart rate and making you feel embraced and calm.

Menopause

The menopausal decline of estrogens contributes to a lack of serotonin, affecting your mood and causing anxiety and depressed mood. Many women have hot flushed and sweats during sleep.

Many women experiencing the menopause advise that sleep difficulties go hand in hand. The menopausal decline of estrogen contributes to a lack of serotonin, affecting your mood and causing anxiety and depressed mood. There are increasing supports for this period in life some of them being the Menopause cafes and online community groups where you can share stories and tips and tricks of how to cope during this period of life. It is great that it is more widely spoken about as for years women battled with this life change on their own as it was somewhat 'taboo' to talk about. It is wonderful (and absolutely necessary) to see this changing.  Many customers going through the menopause have messaged me to find a solution for hot flushes and sweats during sleep as this symptom can have e massive impact on sleep quality. 

Fibromyalgia is also a common condition among the older women that have reached menopause. According to the National Institutes of Health, between 80 and 90 per cent of people who get a diagnosis are women.

 

How to reduce sleep problems during menopause? 

  • For night sweats and hot flushes during sleep, you can try the cooling effect of Kocoono™ Weighted Blanket Luxe. Thanks to its customisable feature, you can add or remove the weights, and you could add one of the strips to the freezer, which may help cool you down before bedtime.
  • If you have fibromyalgia, Kocoono™ Weighted Blankets can ease the symptoms. Studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia have low levels of serotonin. The survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts concluded that the Deep Touch Pressure Therapy applied by calming blankets affects the nervous system by increasing serotonin and melatonin concentrations while decreasing cortisol levels.
  • For depressive mood, you can find Kocoono™ Weighted Blankets useful by releasing serotonin with the parasympathetic nervous system's activation and reducing the anxiety and sleep disorders characterised in this condition.

 So as you can see there are particular challenges that women face during different times in our life that impact sleep. Awareness is key as you can then make adjustments to deal with it in a  positive manner. The above is meant to be informative and a means to be compassionate with yourself and others. Women have alot to deal with and we do it so well! 

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