Women actually tend to sleep better than men as they age, but you might not know that if you listen to them talk.
Harsh news? Perhaps, but maybe this will soften it a bit: Sleep is affected by hormone fluctuations, so women often notice a change in their sleep patterns that correlate with their menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause. (So, yes, ladies, you’re well within your rights when you blame your lack of sleep on hormones.)
In addition to hormones, sleep also is affected by obesity, sleep apnea, smoking, alcohol, high blood pressure, anxiety and stress.
“As we age, the quantity and quality of our sleep declines because of a mixture of hormone changes, as well as life stressors,” Gibson said.
But, in general, that decline doesn’t begin happening until after a woman hits her 40s. In a woman’s 30s and 40s, in fact, her sleep patterns peak, Gibson said. After a woman reaches her 40s, common sleep complaints include trouble going to sleep and waking up at night without being able to go back to sleep.
Sleep problems, Gibson continued, are common, but if your doctor can locate a reason for the problem, he or she can help you address it.
“If you don’t feel rested when you wake up in the morning, you need to talk to your doctor about it,” Gibson said. “We want to make sure we’re not missing something like sleep apnea or other sleep disturbances that could be causing your sleep problems.”
Sleep recommendations by age for women and men*
- Newborns (0-3 months): Between 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months): Between 12-15 hours each day
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Between 11-14 hours each day
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): Between 10-13 hours each day
- School-age children (6-13): Between 9-11 hours each day
- Teenagers (14-17): Between 8-10 hours each day
- Younger adults (18-25): Between 7-9 hours each day
- Adults (26-64): Between 7-9 hours each day
- Older adults (65+): Between 7-8 hours each day
*According to the National Sleep Foundation