Sleep yourself sexier, smarter,

According to Ellen Michaud, author of the acclaimed book Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart, and Slim, sleep may well be a combination of a miracle cure and the fountain of youth. She is not alone. Most medical experts agree that sleep is essential for well-being, beauty, and top mental performance. Some experts believe it may even be the key to youth. 
 
Yet too many women still think the ability to function with little sleep is an accomplishment. Wrong! Like multi-tasking, it is way of shortchanging yourself and your health.
 
That’s why we decided to reprise our exclusive interview with Ellen Michaud. If you too are sleep-deprive, you may be amazed at how many women are suffering a sleep debt and why. Ellen Michaud has all the answers, fact, and figures about the sleep debt.
 
DD: Just how bad is the typical woman’s sleep debt? How many of us do you estimate are not getting enough sleep?
EM: It’s amazing. Surveys in which researchers actually take the time to talk to women indicate that some 75 percent of us are not getting enough sleep. Most of us are deprived of an hour or two each night.
 
DD: What are some of the worst consequences of being sleep deprived?
EM: The researchers I interviewed for my book Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart and Slim discovered that the worst consequences are a seriously-increased risk of premature death, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Sleep deprivation also significantly increases the length of labor in pregnant women. A study at the University of California at San Francisco discovered that pregnant women who slept six hours a night or less had 10 hours more labor than women who slept seven hours or more a night. They were also four times more likely to deliver by Caesarean section.
 
DD: Is it true that hormones can play major role in women’s sleep deprivation? What can we do about it? Are we doomed to suffer through menstruation, perimenopause, and menopause – or is there help?
EM: A woman’s reproductive hormones seem to be the wild card that knocks the brain’s sleep/wake chemistry into chaos. The thing is, the fact that you KNOW that your reproductive hormones are going to disrupt your sleep at certain times – a day or two before you menstruate, during the last trimester of pregnancy, and with the onset of night sweats in perimenopause – makes it easier to deal with them. In fact, there’s a sleep plan for each situation in my book. The most amazing women researchers across the country helped put them together so that every woman can head off hormonally-triggered insomnia.
 
DD: How bad is it to sleep with a snorer?
EM: Dear God. It’s bad. A study conducted some years ago by the Mayo Clinic revealed that a snoring partner wakes his non-snoring partner an average of 20 times a night – with an average sleep loss of one solid hour a day! That might not sound like much, but it you’re being awakened 20 times a night, you’re not only losing sleep, you’re losing the restorative sleep that rewires your brain and repairs your immune system as well.
 
DD: Are women as guilty of snoring as men?
EM: My Aunt Ellen says no. My Uncle Arthur says yes.
 
DD: Can snoring be cured?
EM: Yes. And the first step is to see your primary care physician for a visit devoted exclusively to figuring out why you snore. It could be something as simple as not vacuuming dust from under the bed, or all the grass pollen that drifted in your window while you slept. I will not tell you how I know that. Let’s just say that there’s a new vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter at the top of my birthday wish list this year.
 
DD: Is taking sleeping pills always bad? Are all sleeping pills the same?
EM: All sleeping pills have risks that range from annoying to scary. But they are not all the same. There’s a chart in my book Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart and Slim that allows you to compare the risks and benefits. Interestingly, the most effective treatment for insomnia is NOT a sleeping pill. It’s a short term program of cognitive behavioral therapy. And not only is it more effective, an online program is cheaper. Somewhere around $19.95 as opposed to $3 or $4 a pill every night. You can download a program developed by the Harvard researcher who proved its effectiveness at www.cbtforinsomnia.com. The only reason you’ve never heard of him or the program is that Harvard researchers don’t advertise.
 
DD: Can sleep really help make you thinner and why?
EM: An incredible study of 68,000 women at HarvardMedicalSchool found that women who sleep five hours a night are 32 percent more likely to gain 30 pounds or more as they get older than women who sleep seven hours or more. As to the why, researchers are still working it out. But it may be as simple as the fact that inadequate sleep lowers your levels of leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full, while it increases levels of the ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry. Sleep and you feel full. Stay up late and you wake hungry.
 
DD: Will sleeping better and longer keep you younger?
EM: I’m betting on it!
 
For more great tips on sleep, see this article by Dr. Frank Lipman http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-frank-lipman/sleep-tips-top-10-sleep-m_b_416809.html
 
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