Finding the right amount of sleep can be surprisingly challenging for women due to numerous factors working against it.

How we sleep, and our habits play a significant role in the overall well-being of females. Healthy sleep habits can be a performance booster; you can easily discern the positive effects by observing increased energy and activity levels.

These habits also have a positive impact on mood and brain activity, while simultaneously reducing the risk factors associated with various diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, obesity, stroke, and high blood pressure.

What is healthy sleep for a woman?

A woman sleeping

An average adult woman needs 7-8 hours of sleep every night to wake up feeling refreshed. If she gets less than this recommended amount, it can have a detrimental impact on her mental and physical health, potentially leading to various abnormalities and mental health conditions.

Women are at a higher risk of experiencing insomnia and other sleep-related disorders due to fluctuations in hormone levels. Menopausal and pregnant women often encounter sleep difficulties, and premenstrual syndrome can lead to tiredness and non-restorative sleep. However, adopting healthier sleeping habits can be a game changer!

How can women sleep better?

If you are experiencing difficulties getting enough sleep, there are certain proven strategies you can incorporate into your nighttime routine or sleep ritual to improve your sleep quality, and here are a few: 

1. Exercise during the day

A woman exercising during the day

Engage in some exercise during the day – it doesn't have to be anything strenuous; even a 30-minute walk will do. The important thing is to get your body moving, as this kickstarts a vital process.

  1. Have a bedtime routine

A woman with an established bedtime routine

It all boils down to programming; you need to establish a sleep schedule and adhere to it consistently. Doing this continuously helps program your mind and, ultimately, your brain takes over from there. The key is that a schedule improves everything, and your body adjusts to it in the long run.

  1. Keep bedroom cool

A woman keeping her bedroom cool

You can facilitate the sleeping process by keeping your bedroom cool, ideally at a temperature of 68 degrees or lower. This helps create the right atmosphere for sleep.

  1. Take a hot bath or shower before bed

A woman having a hot bath

Consider taking a hot bath or shower just before bedtime. It can also be helpful to invest in a pleasant-smelling lotion that you enjoy and apply it after you finish your shower.

  1. Avoid electronics at night

A woman using electronics at night time

If you can, try not to include screens in your bedtime routine. Devices like TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones emit a type of light that keeps your brain alert as if it's still daytime. Even just a few hours of exposure to this light at night can delay the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy.

  1. Try breathing exercises

A woman doing breathing exercises

If you find your mind wandering and can't sleep, try this technique: hold your breath, then breathe out, followed by a deep breath in. Hold your breath again and exhale. Repeat this a few times, and you'll start to feel tired, yawn, and fall asleep fairly quickly. This exercise can be especially effective when sleeping conditions aren't perfect.

 Another helpful trick is to count silently backward while doing this, which helps establish a rhythm. Start with 10, and if you reach 1, start again with 15, and so on.

  1. Head support

A woman using a head support

You should aim to avoid placing your neck at awkward angles relative to your body. This primarily helps prevent soreness, but if you sleep with your head in an unusual or easily misaligned position, it can result in breathing problems that lead to poorer sleep and frequent awakenings. So it would be wise to get a good pillow.

  1. Relax a bit before bed

A lady reading a book while lying on the bed at night.

Try to relax a bit before bedtime. Engage in a calming activity that doesn't stress you out, such as reading a few chapters of a book or participating in a soothing activity that takes your mind off things and helps you feel at ease.

  1. Replace a good mattress

Replacing a good mattress

Get a good mattress! Comfort is crucial for promoting and inducing sleep. Your mattress shouldn't be older than 10 years; if it is, it might be time to replace it. Invest in a quality mattress that meets your needs and ensure it's a good one. Don't compromise when it comes to this, as you'll spend a significant part of your life with it. Make the right choice!

 Click here to read more in the comprehensive mattress buying guide.

  1. Don’t consume so much caffeine and alcohol

A woman sipping wine

Reduce your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, especially before bedtime, as failing to do so is akin to signing a "no sleep" contract. These substances can significantly disrupt your sleep pattern.

 Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake and alert, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. It's found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some medications.

 Alcohol, while it might make you feel drowsy initially, can lead to fragmented and poor-quality sleep. It can disrupt your sleep cycles, causing you to wake up frequently during the night.

To improve your sleep, it's advisable to limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. This allows your body to wind down naturally and increases the likelihood of a restful night's sleep.

  1. Look up yoga routines

A woman doing yoga

Search for yoga routines designed to improve sleep. These routines involve gentle and relaxing stretches before bedtime. They focus on slow, gravity-assisted movements rather than strenuous muscle work. Practicing these routines can help you fall asleep faster, and you'll wake up the next day feeling refreshed and agile instead of groaning and experiencing stiffness, thanks to the benefits of loosening up before going to bed.

  1. Take supplements

Taking supplements

On nights when your mind is active, consider taking melatonin supplements to help you fall asleep quickly. However, it's important to exercise caution when using melatonin supplements. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by your body, and its release follows a timed schedule, much like waking up. Before turning to supplements, try the techniques and strategies mentioned above, and consult your healthcare provider for guidance.

You could also opt to improve the quality of your bedding materials; make a switch from a cotton pillowcase to a silk pillowcase, or wrap your hair up in a silk scarf. All of these little changes would add up to something big as they can significantly enhance the sleeping process. 

October 06, 2023 — Michelle Fletcher Smith