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Why Tuesday?

The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sleeping with the Enemy

Have my girlfriends noticed any disturbance in their sleep patterns lately? Yes? No? Enough about you. Let's talk about me. My sleep lately has been... well... how do you say it? It's been shit. This is not for lack of trying my cybersisters for THIS girlfriend does love her bedtime.

I love the whole ritual of it all. You know, the whole getting ready for bed. When the day is done and I can finally go upstairs, into my closet (my happiest place on earth) and change into my pajamas. It's like taking off the armour that I wear against the world and just exhaling for about an hour or so.  I love the removing of the makeup and the washing of the face. It's as if I am rinsing my day's damage down the sink and all will be well in the morning.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me that if I had had a bad day, I should go to bed early. I must admit it has been perfect advice on many a day since. Needless to say over the years there have been some days where I wanted to crawl into bed at about 2:30 in the afternoon but for the most part, Mama's wise words usually insight an 8pm bedtime about three or four times a year.

We’ve all had the days when we struggle to keep our eyes open at about 8:30 or so in the evening, no? There you are lying on a couch watching some America’s Next Top Model (no judgement my girlfriends- we all have our paths in life) and you can barely stay awake to bear witness to Tyra’s lunatic rampage. It does take so much away from the show when you can no keep your eyes open long enough to yell obscenities at the screen.

Why just yesterday I was lying on the couch after a 30km run trying desperately to enjoy the “Say yes to the Dress” marathon I had pre-recorded on my PVR and before I knew it, it was two hours later and I was waking up from a 3 hour “nap” with drool down my cheek and no mouthgard in sight.

And so I did what any self-respecting girlfriend would do…. I went to bed. It was 7:45pm. On a Monday. There you have it my girlfriends- this sister is anything but cool.

Fast forward 8 or so hours and there I was wide-awake at 4 am on a Tuesday. Yes, too much fun. Thanks be to the fashion gods that there is internet shopping. Instead of spending hours staring at the ceiling, I spent 2 hours planning my spring wardrobe. 

How has this happened that now I have developed the sleep patterns of a senior citizen? I am unconscious by 9 pm and wide-awake at the crack of dawn.

Could it be the marathon training that is messing with my sleep patterns or could it just be my 40’s fucking with me?

Turns out its likely a bit of both.

According to a study published in 1982 in the Neurobiology of Aging our sleep is affected by our aging. The study took three groups of people of different ages- one group was aged 20-23, one was 40-45 one was 60-65 and one was 80-85. Each group had formal sleep studies and EEG performed on them. The study showed that as we age our body temperature fluctuates less as we age during our sleep. Furthermore as we age our REM sleep time decreases as does our sleep wake cycle. This was found in both men and women. The authors concluded that although menopause can account for some changes in sleep cycles- the changes continue even after menopause.

Thrilled. So much to look forward to my sisters.

One bright shiny star, however…. Exercise. According to several large-scale trials exercise does indeed improve sleep patterns in both men and women.

My own scientific studies have shown that yes…. Running 50km a week is making me sleepier than usual.

And so, I may not know if it’s my age or my running that is messing with my sleep schedule- only time will tell. My next race is in June 22. Of course by then I will be 6 weeks older. Only time will tell…..