Dr. Lisa Wolfe knows quite alot about sleep. She knows that it's invaluable for ongoing health and well-being. And she knows it's worth protecting from the million and one things that can eat away at our ability to get a good night's sleep.
Dr. Wolfe is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Northwestern University. She is a member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology.
A lack of quality sleep can occur for a number of reasons. If a woman feels that she has insomnia, there are frequent awakenings throughout the night. A lot of that can be due to social issues, especially for women: bearing children, caring for children, having a bed partner that sleeps next to you and frequently disturbs you. Those things are commonly out of control for that woman. And that’s an issue that can be one of those times when a woman needs to really make the choice to protect herself and protect her sleep. Have someone help with childbearing, talk to your bed partner about how they are disturbing your sleep, make those choices you need to make in order to really say, “My sleep is part of my health and I need to protect that.”
Also, some women have a wonderful sleep environment, and they still have trouble sleeping. We know that this is much more of an issue for women as they age, after menopause, but also young women frequently have issues with insomnia. It’s one of the most common complaints that young women have. Oftentimes that insomnia is limited, two to three weeks, around the time of a very stressful event.
During that time there are many things that you can do to protect that you will continue to have good sleep down the road. Exercise is fundamental. Women that exercise--well, people that exercise in general--sleep better than those that don’t. About a half an hour’s worth of exercise can make a big difference in sleep quality at night.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, we recommend that you do your exercise with about two hours to rest before you go to bed. If you exercise very close to bedtime, it actually can rev you up and make it more difficult to sleep.