Sanrai Med INDIA
The impact of sleep disorders – different for both him and her

Most common diseases and disorders are gender agnostic—which means that they affect both sexes equally—except for a few gender-specific diseases and conditions. Fever, cold, cough and aches and pains occur in all of us, although we might react to them differently or show slightly different symptoms. Sleep disorders afflict both men and women. However, their effects are different in both.

Why is sleep different in men and women?

Sleep differences begin during puberty. As women begin their menstrual cycle, there is a significant change in hormone production. This hormonal change impacts their morphology and how sleep disorders impact them throughout their lives.

Sleep cycles too, differ between men and women. For example, a typical night of sleep progresses through three to six sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle lasts between 80-110 minutes and has distinct sleep stages. However, these sleep cycles are not uniform. The first sleep cycle is the shortest, lasting between 70-100 minutes. The other three are between 90-120 minutes and vary in composition.

Each sleep cycle consists of four sleep stages. These include:

  • Stage 1

This non-REM sleep cycle lasts 1-5 minutes and is known as the dozing off stage. Body and brain activity begins to slow, with periods of twitches. A person can be easily woken during this stage.

  • Stage 2

Stage 2 is marked by a drop in temperature, relaxed muscles and slowed heart rate. Eye movement stops, and brain activity is markedly reduced. This stage lasts 10-25 minutes.

  • Stage 3

Also known as deep sleep, this stage is marked with a marked body relaxation and a delta wave pattern of brain activity. Muscle tone, pulse and breathing rate decrease further, and this stage is critical to restorative sleep.

  • Stage 4

REM sleep is the final stage of the sleep cycle. This is the most critical sleep stage for cognitive functions such as memory, learning and creativity. Brain activity picks up—reaching levels of when you’re awake. Your body experiences atonia or temporary paralysis of the muscles but your eyes move rapidly in this stage, which is what gives it its name (Rapid Eye Movement). The most vivid dreams occur during this stage.

Do sleep disorders really affect men and women differently?

A study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that women are more likely to suffer from severe symptoms of depression, insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and memory fog. This is due to distinct hormonal and physical body changes in women during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.

Here are some common sleep disorders and a description of their prevalence across genders:

  • Narcolepsy: Diseases such as Narcolepsy and REM behaviour disorder have a slight male predominance. This problem is also exacerbated by women being the primary caregiver in the family.

  • Insomnia: Insomnia is more prevalent in females. Studies show that insomnia showcases an increase in divergence of this disease between men and women as they age. A part of this is due to persistent sleep loss during childcare and childbirth. Women are at a 40% higher risk of insomnia compared to men.

  • Restless Leg Syndrome: This disorder is more prevalent in women due to its occurrence during pregnancy.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea affects men more as compared to women. This is predominantly due to anatomical differences of the upper airway, as men tend to have more airway fat and greater neck circumference, leading to a higher susceptibility of airway collapse, a major causal factor for sleep apnea. Additionally, screening instruments such as STOPBang were designed with questions biased toward men, making it inappropriate for women. Men are 13% more likely to suffer from OSA compared to only 6% of women.

Do hormones impact sleep?

Hormones are a major driver of sleep differences. Shifts in hormone production in females impact their sleep stages and create significant sleeping problems.

During and post-puberty, the monthly menstrual cycle involves a significant change in the production of estrogen and progesterone. A drop in their level before the onset of the cycle causes disturbed sleep among other emotional impacts.

Pregnant women undergo major hormonal shifts during the first, second and third trimesters. Nearly 50% of pregnant women experience symptoms akin to insomnia, and these symptoms can continue postpartum.

Menopause causes major fundamental changes in hormone production and begin during perimenopause. As hormonal changes directly impact the circadian rhythm and can also cause hot flashes and night sweats, they cause sleep disturbances in over 80% women.

Nocturia—or frequent urination during the night affects over 75% of women over 40. Additionally, acid reflux and overactive bladders also worsen overall sleep quality in women.

What can you do to reduce the impact of sleep disorders?

Although you cannot stop sleep disorders, you can address conditions such as sleep apnea using devices such as CPAP machines. Sanrai, an innovative medical products manufacturer and distributor, recommends using their 5-point Sanrai Solution to reduce the impact of sleep disorders. This 5-point solution includes:

  • Early screening of sleep disorders

  • Accurate diagnostics ensure that you get the proper treatment

  • Device-based therapeutic solutions to ensure lasting relief

  • Better outcome management through lifestyle changes and therapy

  • 24x7 support to ensure continued relief

Final thoughts

Thousands of people worldwide suffer from sleep disorders, making it the top cause of lost productivity, job losses, and road and industrial accidents. The first step in preventing this is to ensure screening and diagnosis that helps in determining the root cause of your disease, paving the way to better outcome management in the long run.

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