This Sleep Doctor Shares
The 3 Reasons Why Women Aren’t Sleeping Well And What To Do About It
There’s no amount of goji berries, hot yoga, or breathwork that can fully make up for a night of poor sleep. Sleep is the most fundamental element to feeling our best throughout the day, yet the research shows that women just aren’t getting enough of it. According to the Sleep Foundation, 70 million Americans struggle with sleep, but women are 40% more likely to have insomnia than men. Clearly there’s a link between women and sleep waiting to be explored — and that’s exactly what I set out to do, by tapping an AthletaWell sleep expert, Dr. Valerie Cacho, MD.
What Is AthletaWell?
AthletaWell is an expert-led community dedicated to female well-being, created by Athleta. Their digital platform allows women to connect with wellness leaders, experts, and each other to have the kind of conversations they hesitate to have elsewhere. From mental health to body positivity to motivation, women are invited to share whatever is on their mind.
Dr. Valerie Cacho, MD
Click here to begin your free AthletaWell membership, and start connecting today!
Dr. Valerie Cacho, MD, an AthletaWell Sleep Guide with a world of wisdom, education, and experience on the topic. Her expertise on women and sleep was like a nightlight in corners I didn’t know existed. And I know that her advice will transform your take on sleep, as it did mine.
Let’s get down to it.
Why aren’t women sleeping?
Join The AthletaWell
Alongside these connections, AthletaWell offers livestream workshops, classes, articles, videos, podcasts, obé Fitness classes, and more. And all these perks add up to real answers, like the reasons why women aren’t sleeping well and what to do about it. Despite how it feels when you’re wide awake in the middle of the night—AthletaWell is the reminder that you’re never alone.
Meet The Doctor
“I think women are told that we can have it all, there are only 24 hours a day. So if you spend a lot of it at work, time with your family, cooking, cleaning, laundry… What gets cut out? Sleep gets cut out.”
It’s no wonder that women are struggling with mental health, as this modern world has us juggling more roles than ever. As it turns out, this could be connected to our sleep struggles:
“Women have more concerns around anxiety and depression, and we know that there is a bidirectional relationship with that and sleep.”
“We’re stealing from our sleep time because we think we’re going to get more done.”
“When we get more sleep, our brains work better. So we can actually perform at a higher capacity. Our reaction times, our emotional stability, is a lot better by actually getting the 7-9 recommended hours of sleep.”
Changes Women Can Make
Today For Better Sleep
Become aware of your own sleeping habits
Improving our sleep issues starts with raising awareness. “Sleep is just as important as breathing, as nutrition and exercise, and I think it’s finally getting its time in the limelight. So many people want to talk about weight loss, and what’s the best type of diet… But do we talk about how a quick 10-minute nap is so important for your brain and memory?”
Give Your Brain a Workout
“I like to talk about how you can workout your brain, especially the relaxation part. We don't think of our brain like a muscle. But the more you strengthen the relaxation part of your brain, the parasympathetic response, it makes it easier to fall asleep."
Partner With a Pro
Dr. Valerie’s approach to sleeping well is unique — hence why she’s known as an Integrative Sleep Physician. The advice she offers on AthletaWell is derived from the integration of various modalities, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, neuroscience, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, supplements and herbs, and even clinical hypnotherapy. Her conversations guide AthletaWell members toward deeper Z’s through self-compassion, self-love, and improving negative self-talk.
Find a Supportive Community
Anyone who has ever gone through a spell of sleep struggles knows how isolating and turbulent it can feel — but that’s where community comes in. “When you’re not feeling well, it can be hard to open up to other people about it,” Dr. Valerie describes. “But really, what’s so important for women to know is that you are not alone. The research shows that at any given time, 30% of adults have difficulty sleeping. To know that other people have gone through it and found techniques that work for them, is really encouraging… I think community is everything. In every aspect of our life.”
One of the most interesting points Dr. Valerie brought to the table is the paradox behind our sleep deprivation.
But, as she knows quite well… It doesn’t
really work that way.
I’m sure many of us can relate, sacrificing sweet hours of slumber to get more done, only to pay for it the next day in compromised performance.
Next, it’s physical symptoms. Dr. Valerie said many women experience headaches and migraines related to poor sleep.
“Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to depression, but day-to-day not sleeping long enough can lead to more moodiness, irritability, and being short with people.”
Given how many women are struggling with sleep, I wanted to know how that was manifesting in our day-to-day lives. And according to Dr. Valerie, mood is the first thing to go after a rocky night of sleep. When women are exhausted, they become more irritable and short.