6. You Don't Get 8 Hours of Sleep
Scrimping on sleep may seem like a smart way to squeeze a few more productive hours into the day, but busy women who do it can pay a heavy price with their health, says Suzanne Griffin, MD, a sleep specialist and psychiatrist at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. "This is a public health epidemic that is going unnoticed," she says. "Often what I hear, especially from mothers, is that they are intentionally staying up late at night because it is the only time they have to themselves" to do laundry, pay bills, and catch up on work.
Though there's no set amount of sleep people need, 8 hours is usually a minimum, says Clete Kushida, MD, PhD, director of the Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research. Most women are getting only about 7 hours on weeknights, says a 2002 National Sleep Foundation survey of about 1,000 men and women. Twenty percent of those women reported daytime sleepiness, a sign that they weren't getting enough shut-eye.
The risks of sleep deprivation go way beyond waking up with that groggy feeling even coffee won't cure. Women who sleep less than 8 hours a night over a 10-year period are at slightly higher risk of heart disease, reported a study published in the past year in the Archives of Internal Medicine
. Those 8 hours are also crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. Another study found that sleep deprivation can lead to an imbalance of various weight-related hormones that can encourage your cells to store excess fat and lower your body's fat-burning ability.
Still other research has linked sleep deprivation to depression and anxiety, as well as insulin resistance--a trigger for high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. And accidents caused by sleepy drivers injure more than 40,000 people a year and kill at least 1,500, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Acknowledge the futility of trying to fit 26 hours' worth of activities into 24 hours. Cut back on your commitments, says Griffin. Divvy up family responsibilities with your partner and children. Establish a bedtime for yourself, and stick to it every night. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. And don't use alcohol as a sleep inducer; it can actually interfere with a full night's rest. Your sleep may improve if you adhere to the same relaxing bedtime rituals you've started for your kids, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a warm bath.
Reprint; Prevention Magazine