Tag Archives: Sleep

It gets better and better!

Well I was quite satisfied with Monday’s blog post justifying my treasured lie-ins…but wait! There’s more!

Not only have I a Licence To Sleep but, with absolutely no training required, I’ve got a Licence To Be Moody too! Wish I’d known this a few years earlier…

"I'm searching for some fancy medical terminology I can use to justify why I'm such a complete bitch."

…because it’s very scientific, which is of course, a language I understand and is difficult for others to argue with.

Basically it’s to do with serotonin levels. I’m sure we’ve all heard serotonin referred to as a ‘happy hormone’ (even though it’s not actually a hormone…it’s a neuro-transmitter!) and know that low levels of it can lead to depression. The number of women being treated for depression is much higher than that for men. Of course, there is probably some truth in the fact that the numbers of women being treated for depression may be down to the simple fact that they’re more likely to seek medical help, or talk to their girlfriends about it and be advised to go to the doctor by those friends.

Most of our serotonin is actually used for regulating intestinal functions- nice! But the small remainder is found in the central nervous system where it affects, amongst other things, mood.

The serotonin is taken up by cell receptors which allow neuro-transmitters, hormones etc in and out. So a double edged sword then. Not only do we need enough serotonin to be ‘happy’ but also enough cell receptors to take up as much as possible.

However men and women process serotonin slightly differently. Recent scientific research has found (using brain scans) that women have more serotonin receptors than men. Therefore, logically, need more serotonin. It should also be noted though, that where there is a deficiency of just about anything in the body, our cells open up as many receptors for whatever is lacking as possible in order to take up every last tiny bit that is available. So this could mean there was never enough serotonin in women and thats why we have more receptors.

For some people the answer is anti-depressants. Which is a medicine like any other as far as I’m concerned and solves a problem of deficiency, just like taking vitamin supplements. Some anti-depressants such as Prozac work by increasing serotonin in order for the receptors for it to have access to an optimum amount.

Then of course there’s the other reason for us women’s mood swings…the ACTUAL hormone ones. Oestrogen being the main culprit. The thing about oestrogen is that it also affects serotonin levels by stimulating the number of receptors for it in the brain – meaning during our monthly hormonal fluctuations we need even more!

What to do about it? We can actually help ourselves via our diets. Plenty wholegrain and fortified cereal gives us lots of B vitamins and magnesium which reduces stress hormone cortisol. The high carbohydrate content of these cereals also boosts the level of serotonin.

Of course exercise and sunlight are natural mood boosters, so getting outside for a walk or better still a run will actually do you the world of good – provided you’re not sooooo down that it’s hard to find the motivation to do it! Don’t diet though!! Restricting calories lowers tryptophan which is necessary for making serotonin.

Healthy eating and exercise – YES. Losing out on essential nutrients – NO.

Those chocolate cravings when you’re feeling grumpy?? Your body requesting ‘more carbs please’.

So feel free to indulge! ;)


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At last…scientific proof I need my weekend lie-in!

It’s true! Scientists have finally concluded than on average us women need 20 minutes more sleep than our fella’s! Yay! Actual scientific evidence…he can’t argue with that!

Better still, the reasons come down to us being much busier than men in terms of how we use our brains. Oh! – the leverage of that argument when negotiating who gets to lie-in and who has to get up with the kids next Sunday morning! Beautiful!

Obviously the whole point of sleep or rest is for our brains to recover from all the energy exhausted during our waking hours. Since women have to deal with sooo many more issues than men, we use more energy and therefore need more rest. (well I always knew that! ;) )

It comes down to our amazing multi-tasking skills really. I mean we deal with so many very different tasks all at once, going to work, getting the dishwasher/laundry on before leaving, dealing with the kids, dealing with our relationships, planning family meals, shopping, cooking, general housework, dealing with schools, kids social activities and personal dramas, looking after extended family members, remembering tons of birthdays/anniversaries – and these are the basics!

On top of all that there are hundreds of odds and ends that constantly crop up which involves always maintaining incredible flexibility…planned a chicken dinner? Forget it – hubby just decided he fancies beef and the kids all want different meals.

Granted the men in our lives may have to deal with some of this too, but (and I realise this is very general) let’s face it, beyond going to work everyday where he can pretty much forget about home until 5.30pm when he has to find his way there, there isn’t a whole lot of multi-tasking he has to do. Unless of course that’s part of his job. The scientists are telling us though that he still won’t need as much sleep as a woman!

Our brains are much more complex than a man’s, which enables us to take care of all the things listed above, which is simply down to our wiring. Another thing we already knew! The fact that we do so much more multi-tasking than the average man, added to not getting enough rest, unfortunately means that our brains age faster.

So we just make sure we get more sleep right?

It’s not as easy as it sounds though to simply ‘get more sleep’. I know from experience that once she’s had a baby a woman’s ability to sleep deeply and well changes enormously. It’s a kind of 24/7 radar for any noises as you are permanently tuned into listening out for crying or any kind of disturbance that  may be a potential threat to the child…and we all know that men can sleep right through babies crying! So we sleep much lighter than them, which doesn’t give us the ‘rest’ we need.

The very things that we have to deal with everyday are also responsible for us not getting proper rest. Stress and worry both result in lighter or broken sleep.

In reality though, the good news is that the men are catching up and catching on and have been for some time now. It’s not quite as ridiculous these days for a couple to decide to share everything fairly. As far as my experience has shown me, dads are much more involved with their children emotionally. As well as willingly divvying up the housework, shopping and cooking. So I suppose that means the lie-ins get shared too!

Think I’ll have mine this weekend…possibly even request breakfast in bed while I’m at it!



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