How Lack of Sleep Significantly Impacts Men
Sleep problems affect everybody, and Canadians are no different. The only two countries ahead of Canada in the lack of sleep department is Ireland and The United Kingdom.
According to Statistics Canada, “…results of the 2007-to-2013 CHMS (Canadian Health Measures Survey), 43% of men and 55% of women aged 18 to 64 reported trouble going to sleep or staying asleep ‘sometimes/most of the time/all of the time’ (Table 3). This was comparable to 2005, when a higher percentage of women than men reported trouble falling asleep or staying asleep (35% versus 25%).” Read more details here.
Those who do get the recommended amount of 7-9 hours each night report their quality of sleep is, in fact, better than those who report not getting the recommended amount.
“Long working days, social and family responsibilities, irregular shift work and illness can lead to self-imposed sleep restriction,” Ryan shares.
Major health problems can also come as a result. This includes but is not limited to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
And that’s not all. Ryan addresses more problems and states, “Additional consequences of sleep disorders include a weakened immune system, impaired vigilance during tasks that require precision and attention, such as driving, and an increased risk of accidents in the workplace.”
Men Are Sleep Deprived
Though experts recommend men get the recommended 7-8 hours each night, a survey of 500 Canadian men is showing one-third are only getting 4-6.
“53.9 percent have unhealthy sleeping behaviours (i.e. less than seven or more than nine hours per night).”
Studies are showing a difference in “circadian cycles” for men vs. women, meaning there are substantial biological variances between sleeping patterns for the genders.
For example, “Women’s circadian clocks are set to an earlier hour than men’s. Making them more inclined to fall asleep earlier and also to wake earlier. Women showed a stronger inclination for activity earlier in the day than men.”
Problems that Can Arise for Men
There are a few reasons for these bad sleeping habits. The president of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, Wayne Hartrick tells CBC there are some health issues that can affect men in particular from this problem. For one thing, they are more likely to get prostate cancer, as well as erectile dysfunction.
Technology is a big one too, says Hartrick, as it is such a stimulant and a big part of everyday life in today’s society.
The American Sleep Apnea Association shares that being a busy body can contribute to sleep issues, anxiety, and sleeping disorders men may not know they have. Even men who work during the night can develop problems with their health because of the snoozing problems that arise from their schedule.
“Sleep is not an optional biological process; our brains, bodies, even our cells, require a third of our days be spent in sleep mode. Men must sleep well if they want to stay healthy, perform well in all facets of their lives, and enjoy longevity.”
Side effects for men in particular are significant. As mentioned earlier, erectile dysfunction is a main one. This comes from distorted testosterone levels, which can be a side effect of lack of sleep.
Also resulting from low testosterone is infertility and mental health issues. Mental health affects everyone, though recent research is showing a specific connection for men.
Is There a Solution?
Yes! There are a few things that men can do to get a full nights rest! And even keep it a regular thing.
Besides the obvious ones that everybody should know by now, like avoiding technology for a while before bedtime, and not drinking caffeine after 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Though everyone is different and even have their own nightly preferences, having a dark and cooler room is also a big one to help.
Men should also try their best to avoid alcohol and smoking before going to bed. Alcohol and nicotine both make it harder for the sleeper to achieve that deep slumber.
Exercise is another big one that can help a lot. According to Men’s Journal, “Vigorous exercise led to better sleep for twice as many respondents in the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 “Sleep in America” poll.” But for it to help your sleeping improve, it could take a few weeks of keeping to an exercise routine.
Even having a hot shower can help. The temperature change of getting out of the shower has your body producing melatonin.
An article from Men’s Health focuses on British neuroscientist Matthew Walker, and his work with “Human Sleep Science.” Some advice from him that goes beyond the classic life changes is leaving your bed.
“The worst thing you can do when you can’t sleep is to stay in bed… Just go to another room and read until you are sleepy.” This will hopefully help because, by this point, your brain will link anxiety and your bed.
He also addresses how sleep can be hard work, but people needs to keep at it.
“We need to approach sleep as we would our gym routines: to stop expecting it to be easy, or results to come quickly.” The article continues, “Banking on a restful night without examining our habits and eliminating the problems is like tackling a marathon without training – only with a whole lot more at stake.”
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