Are Australian Women Sleeping Well?

Group of diverse women taking a selfie

Sleep experts agree the average Australian adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night1.  At SleepMaker, we understand how essential sleep is for our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. And while we should aim for our seven to nine hours of sleep each night, research2 suggests more than one-third of women do not get enough shut-eye. 

Why Don’t Women Get Enough Sleep?

 

We already know that women need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night and that many women don’t sleep for long enough, but here’s another interesting fact about women’s sleep:

Women, on average, sleep longer than men, actually – 11 more minutes!

While this sounds like great news, the truth is, research3 has shown women experience an interrupted and lower-quality sleep than men. So, while getting enough hours of sleep is vital, the emphasis also needs to be on getting good quality sleep.

How Does Poor Sleep Impact Women’s Lives?

 

At one point in our lives, most of us have experienced the after-effects of a long, sleepless night. There’s a good reason why the words tired and grumpy go together. And there’s no doubt; we’ve all had the first-hand experience of how tiredness can be mood-altering. No one wants to be in the firing line of a weary woman, that’s for sure!

Beyond grumpy-exhausted moods, even missing merely a few hours of good, quality sleep can lead to other issues. For example, memory loss, declining concentration levels, reduced work or study performance can all result from insufficient sleep. And more seriously, daytime sleepiness can increase your risk for workplace or transport accidents, other accidental injuries, obesity, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease4. If you want to know more about why sleep is so important, check out an earlier SleepMaker Sleep Guide Blog: Sleep Health and why it is so important.

What Can Impact Women’s Sleep Quality?

 

Lifestyle choices, habits and environmental factors can impact a woman’s sleep. Take pregnancy as an example. Pregnancy is one of the many unique-to-women issues that can affect sleep. Pregnancy can make it almost impossible for a woman to get comfortable enough to sleep at night!

Australia’s Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, a national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the health of all women across Australia, has explained,

“Sleep problems can be caused by changes in your daily routine, times of worry, a new baby, shift work or sleep apnoea.”


Also, hormonal fluctuations can wreak havoc on women’s sleep routines, with most women experiencing monthly changes to their estrogen and progesterone levels. Later in life, many women start to experience poor sleep due to the physical symptoms of perimenopause and menopause5.

Other common sleep problems women face include:

  • – Insomnia
  • – Body aches and pains
  • – Chronic pain including arthritis
  • – Menstrual pain
  • – Restless Legs’ syndrome
  • – Shift work
  • – Sleep apnea


Snoring is one worth a mention. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that impairs men’s sleep due to pauses in breathing and can cause loud snoring, affecting anyone who sleeps next to them!

 

women eating bread on bed with husband looking at her

Menopause, Women and Sleep

 

You’re not on your own if menopause now means you can’t sleep. We briefly mentioned menopause above, but it’s such a time of massive change for women – hormonal, physical, and psychological, that it needs its own section. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health points out that many women experience insomnia and sleep disorders during menopause. “Insomnia, snoring and obstructive sleep disorder become more frequent, but may be under-recognised.”

The hormonal changes that come with menopause and cause sleep issues often continue into later life for many women6. Symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and insomnia, most commonly lead to a wakeful night.

If you have sleep problems related to menopause, make an appointment with your local GP. They know your personal medical history and can recommend appropriate treatments, including medications and lifestyle changes that can improve sleep.

When Should Women Focus on Sleep?

 

Nine years ago, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health ran the first National Women’s Health Week, and it’s been a successful annual event every year since. With sleep so critical to women’s health, SleepMaker wanted to find a way to help women get better sleep, so we made the heartfelt decision to become a proud promotional partner for the September 6-10 event.

With more than 90,000 women across Australia this year joining the Women’s Health Week cause, Jean Hailes says:

“This is a very important time for women to stop and think about their health and to make taking care of themselves one of their top priorities, so if sleep is bothering you, it can really impact on your quality of life.”

There are ways to improve sleep with natural remedies, these are proven to work for most people as it helps to keep calm your body, which therefore helps you to relax.

Sleep Tips for Women


Now that we have explored the unique-to-women sleep issues and have an understanding of how they can impact women’s health, we’ve put together a list of common sleep tips that can help women get a better night’s sleep. This year as part of Women’s Health Week, we encourage all women to try and implement as many of these tips as possible to see if they make a difference.

Reduce your caffeine intake: Try limiting your coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages like colas to two a day, preferably before lunchtime.

Don’t go to bed on a full stomach: If possible, allow at least 2 hours after dinner before going to bed.

Limit your alcohol: Try to have no more than 1-2 standard drinks a day. Although alcohol can have a sedative effect and helps you fall asleep, it often leads to mid-night waking and disrupted sleep.

Follow a routine: Following a bedtime routine can help build a habit that singles to your brain and body you are about to go to bed7. A consistent bedtime routine has also been shown to be a helpful tool for new mothers to improve mood and improve a baby’s sleep.

Have a warm bath: Many people find that winding down in a warm bath or shower can help relax their mind and body before bed.

Keep off your phone: The blue light emitted from your phone and other electronic devices can impair the body’s own natural nighttime sleep response. You can read more about how screen time can impact your sleep.

Keep a cool sleeping environment: Where you can, try to stabilise the temperature in your bedroom to 18 degrees and wear loose-fitting clothing. If that’s still not helpful, it might be time to investigate SleepMaker beds with Kulkote. Kulkote is actually a temperature regulating technology designed in the USA for astronaut spacesuits. We have integrated the technology into our beds and bedding, meaning the surface of your bed or pillow draws heat away from your body – This technology is particularly useful for menopausal women. You can read more about Kulkote here.

Find your perfect bed: Finding the right bed to match your own needs can help improve your quality of sleep. For example, SleepMaker’s Delta Adjustable Base range of beds and mattresses makes for an excellent alternative for pregnant women and new mums. The multi-positional beds are ideal for helping pregnant women get into a comfortable position to sleep and helping new mums get comfortable while breastfeeding, or moving in bed when recovering from childbirth or a c-section.

Get a Better Night’s Sleep With SleepMaker


As we now know, women’s sleep needs can vary depending on their stage of life hormones or lifestyle choices. Parenting commitments, snoring partners, those uncomfortable nights of late pregnancy all can impact the quality of sleep you can get as a woman.

SleepMaker has developed a wide range of advanced technologies to create excellent mattresses in Australia to ensure the most comfortable and supportive sleep possible.

Why not take our Sleep Selector Quiz to find the best mattress for you, or check out our list of retailers to find a store close to you.

 

Alternatively, you could check out these articles that could help you in achieving a good night sleep:

How does screen time affect your sleep?

Why a good mattress is so important to your sleep?

Forming good sleep habits

Natural remedies to help you sleep

References:

1. Sleep Needs Across the Lifespan [Review of Sleep Needs Across the Lifespan]. Sleep Health Facts. Retrieved August 17 C.E., from https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/Sleep-Needs-Across-Lifespan.pdf

2. Burgard, S. A., & Ailshire, J. A. (2013). Gender and Time for Sleep among U.S. Adults. American sociological review, 78(1), 51–69.https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0003122412472048?

3. Mallampalli, M. P., & Carter, C. L. (2014). Exploring sex and gender differences in sleep health: a Society for Women’s Health Research Report. Journal of women’s health (2002), 23(7), 553–562.https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2014.4816

4. Moline, M. L., Broch, L., Zak, R., & Gross, V. (2003). Sleep in women across the life cycle from adulthood through menopause. Sleep medicine reviews, 7(2), 155–177.https://doi.org/10.1053/smrv.2001.0228

5. Eichling PS, Sahni J. Menopause related sleep disorders. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 2005;1(3):291-300.

6. Nowakowski, S., Meers, J., & Heimbach, E. (2013). Sleep and Women’s Health. Sleep medicine research, 4(1), 1–22.https://doi.org/10.17241/smr.2013.4.1.1

7. Mindell, J. A., Telofski, L. S., Wiegand, B., & Kurtz, E. S. (2009). A nightly bedtime routine: Impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. Sleep, 32(5), 599–606.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19480226/

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