4 Reasons Why Poor Sleep is More Dangerous for Women: Weight Gain, Burn-Out, Depression and Premature Aging

by Belinda on August 10, 2014

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Many women I coach come to me struggling with stubborn body fat, lack of motivation and low energy levels.  Thinking it’s somehow their fault.

As part of my “body audit” we often talk about sleep and why it’s so important to losing weight, balancing your hormones and getting in great shape.

It may come as no surprise that women’s sleep patterns are very different to men. We take longer to fall asleep, tend to be more sleep deprived and often report more serious symptoms than men.

New research from Duke University has found:

 Women do more multi-tasking during the day than men so need more sleep.
 Women who are sleep deprived are prone to moodiness and depression.
 Sleep deprivation is linked to heart disease, stroke and inflammation.

Biologically, poor sleep in women is associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 – the measures of inflammation that have been associated with increased risk of heart disease and higher levels of insulin.

Poor sleep is measured by the total amount of sleep, how many times we wake during the night, and most importantly, how long it takes to get to sleep.

In my experience as a fitness coach there are 4 consequences of poor sleep:

1. Weight Gain and Food Cravings
2. Burn Out and Fatigue
3. Moodiness and Lack of Motivation
4. Wrinkles and Premature Skin Aging

Hormonal and physical changes at different times during our life span have the biggest impact on the quality of our sleep. And if you’re post-40 then dropping estrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels are likely to be affecting your sleep. If this is you, don’t forget to check my hormone blog: Your Crazy Post-40 Hormones: Fat Loss, Fitness & Staying Sane

The bottom line is, women need more sleep than men.

Here’s the thing…..

Most women put quality sleep way down on their list of priorities.

It’s not uncommon for women to tell me they are just getting by on 5-6 hours of sleep each night. No wonder they wake up moody and craving comfort foods for breakfast. And often these women also find it hard to lose weight, despite working out regularly. The problem is their bodies (and brains) are burnt out….

You see, your skin, muscles and cells renew themselves overnight during The Critical 5 Stages of Sleep.

editedstages of sleep-01

Overnight your autonomic processes, like heart rate and digestion, dial down their intensity…So your body can focus its energy and efforts on using the building blocks you’ve given it to maximize the vital repair process. During deep sleep, the part of the brain responsible for thought, memory, language and emotion – disengages from your waking senses and goes into recovery mode.

When you don’t sleep well, this crucial recovery and repair period your body demands to fully reveal your natural health and beauty… never happens.

By improving the quality of your sleep you’ll find your metabolism resets itself so you have more energy and burn fat more efficiently. You’ll feel calmer, not frazzled yet wired at the same time and you’ll be very pleasantly surprised that your complexion suddenly starts to look younger, fresher – and more alive.

During my 40’s I struggled with good sleep; after my divorce I became dependent on sleeping tablets for years (please never take them, they are highly addictive).  Then once I recovered, my hormones started changing which dramatically affected my sleep once again. Good sleep became an obsession!

Today I am happy to say I sleep the best I have in many, many years. I wake up feeling refreshed, energized and ready to face the day.

You can’t just will a good nights sleep to happen or leave it to chance….your health and happiness are far too important for that.

Here are a few tips for a better night’s sleep:

1. Improve Your Sleep Chemistry
• Bright Light Therapy
• Aromatherapy
• Regular Exercise
• Good Nutrition
• Avoiding electronic devices before bed and beside your bed.

2. Plan Out Your Nightly Routine
• Maintain a regular schedule and start relaxing 30 minutes before bed: give yourself the “time to sleep cues”.

3. Create a Healthy Sleep Environment
• Make sure your room is cool enough, well ventilated and there are no lights or electronic devices near your bed.

4. Enter Sleep Through Visualization
• Use calm and happy memories, images of nature and positive thoughts to focus your mind on.

5. Use Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
• Develop a positive affirmation “sleep mantra” to use as you fall asleep and for when you wake up during the night.

If you’re struggling with sleep, please don’t give up! I know lack of sleep can wear you down physically and emotionally – but you can turn things around.

I’d love to hear about your comments and experiences so please post below this blog!



P.S. As a transformation coach because so many women I’ved work with struggle with sleep, I developed a highly effective but incredibly simple guide. In my  The Wake Up Younger Program I’ve taken the time to break it down – helping you GET how to easily leverage your body’s natural biorhythms.

Here are the 3 key things you must know.

1. I’ll tell you about the crucial hormone you get the most of in a deep sleep. This is a hormone that your body requires to easily stay youthful and fight off those nasty colds or flus. And you’ve been deficient in it for a long, long time. Being low in this hormone is like having your finger stuck on pressing aging’s fast forward button.

2. I’ll teach you what The 5 Stages of Sleep are. And explain in-depth why every stage is such a big deal. Just by understanding The 5 Stages, it’ll drastically change your relationship with sleep.

3. And I’ll give you a Sleep Diary that’s broken down into three parts. You’ll be able to measure the quality of your sleep, peel back the curtain to see what your daytime habits really are and be armed with a pre-bedtime ritual that will guarantee you’re ready to sleep your way to a healthy, youthful body and mind.

Check Out Belinda’s Wake Up Younger Sleep Program




  • Why Women Need More Sleep Than Men: Research Shows Stronger Mental, Physical Response To Inadequate Rest www.medicaldaily.com
  • Women DO need more sleep than men: Multi-tasking means their brains take longer to recover www.dailymail.co.uk
  • Why We Need to Pay More Attention to Women’s Sleep | Society for Women’s Health Research www.huffingtonpost.com
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