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Eliz Green: The Key To Getting a Little Shut-eye

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I'll sleep when I'm dead.

I hear the phrase from many friends.

Perhaps it is the unofficial motto of busy women?

How often do you sacrifice sleep to get something done? We all do it, stay up a little later, get up a little earlier, or allow the worries of the day to creep in and prevent sleep.

This constant eating away at sleep has significant health consequences now and into the future.

Even energetic 30-somethings are laying the foundation of their future health. Lack of sleep can mean they are laying calcium deposits in their arteries as well.

A recent study concluded people who consistently sleep five hours per night or less have a much more likely to develop the “hardening of the arteries” type of heart disease than people who slept seven to eight hours per night. The damage begins in your 20s and 30s.

Women who sleep less than seven hours per night significantly increase their risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and depression. In addition lack of sleep decreases your mental agility, alertness and impairs your immune system.

So, are you getting enough sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation finds 67% of women frequently experience sleep problems. Even though women are 1.5 times more likely to experience sleep problems than men, 75% of sleep studies are conducted on men, so doctors are not quite sure why women aren’t sleeping.

Some factors which may contribute are:

* The demands of the day don’t allow you to unwind and find sleep.
* Small children interrupt your sleep and you can’t get back to sleep.
* Hormonal changes can raise your body temperature making it more difficult to fall asleep.
* Your sleep environment or lifestyle prevents good sleep.

How can you get a better night’s sleep?

1. Get some exercise. Moving around during the day will wear you out and help you sleep. However, avoid exercise (except for gentle stretching) within two hours of bed time. Exercise revs you up and will make it difficult to fall asleep.
2. Get some light. Help your body figure out when it is time to be awake and time to sleep.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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