Fathers Day: Let Sleeping Dads Sleep
Oh, Dads. Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Watch TV Without Them…Snoring Almost As Soon As They Plop Down.
In just a few days, Father’s Day will be here. Every year, I find myself contemplating what to get the man who says he doesn’t need or want anything, yet returns almost everything I have ever given him (that didn’t involve playdough or crayons).
And every so often, I also find myself fascinated by all of the differences between my beloved father and me.
For the longest time, I was annoyed by the fact that my father could fall asleep instantly and then proceed to snore all the way through whatever it is what we were supposed to be watching as a family (usually baseball), but then the instant I tiptoed over to pry the remote out of his hands, he ferociously woke up, bounced back, said a few wise comments about baseball in general, and then, without any warning, succumbed back to the world of sleep.
Take this hysterical yet typical short video of a dad caught snoring in his chair. We all have experienced this at least once in our childhood, or if you are like me, thousands of times.
And now, after years of just being annoyed, I find myself jealous and asking,
“WHY CAN’T I DO THAT?
1) Women Miss Their Sleepy Window
According the widely read website The List, most people believe that women usually take longer to fall asleep than men, but that isn’t exactly scientific. In fact, Forbes reports that in a 2010 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that women are hardwired to fall asleep earlier and wake earlier than men..
Melatonin, a hormone that induces sleepiness and tells our bodies it’s time to rest, hits women earlier in the evening than it does men. This time period when melatonin is setting in, “the intrinsic circadian period,” is significantly shorter in women than it is in men. That means that women have a shorter window to be able to fall asleep quickly. And how many moms do you know that go to bed early or are resting on the couch in mid-evening? But how many women do you know that are sleepy most of the day?
Think about the average evening when you were a child.. Have you ever seen a dad exhausted on the couch at 8 p.m. and awake? Ummm…. No.
But what about that same mom wandering around yawning and making lunches for the next day, only to stay awake and end up feeling wired at 11 p.m.?
The women most likely missed the window for easy sleep, and then the female body has to wind down on its own, without the benefit of melatonin.
2) Women’s Hormones React Differently to Sleep
The Telegraph posed some of the same questions and asked, “Is it hormonal?” And found that yes, part of the reason that men fall asleep quicker seems to be simply that men don’t have the same fluctuations that women do hormonally.
Pregnancy, certain times of the month, and menopause all trigger “alert hormones” that keep women awake.
Another hormone, cortisol, rises if we don’t get enough sleep and then can cause us to gain weight and lose muscle mass. Cortisol also triggers a hunger response in the brain – making weight gain more likely.
Two other hormones – grehlin and leptin – are also important factors in why sleep can impact our weight. The less we sleep, the more grehlin we produce. Leptin is almost the opposite: it sends a signal to the brain to let us know we’ve eaten enough. The only problem is the less we sleep, the less leptin we produce.
3) Women Have Traditionally Had Restaurants Open 24 Hours A Day
Women sleep more lightly than men and are therefore more likely to report waking just as easily as sleeping during the night. One theory is that this is the result of evolution: women have historically been responsible for night time feeding of infants, which has made them more attuned to noises in the night.
Take The Epworth Sleepiness Scale And See For Yourself
The Today Show examined the results of women and men in the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, a standardized test given to people who think they might have some type of sleep disorder and as a result determines the level of daytime sleepiness. They discovered that men have a much higher level of daytime sleepiness even though they seem to be falling asleep faster.
Indeed the study shows that while men seem to sleep more quickly than women, women are at least sleeping more effectively from a safety standpoint.
Take the test as a family and see how you score.
How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to feeling just tired?
(This refers to your usual way of life in recent times. Even if you have not done some of these things recently, try to work out how they would have affected you.)
Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation.
0-Would never doze
1-Slight chance of dozing
2-Moderate chance of dozing
3-High chance of dozing
- While sitting and reading.
- While watching television.
- Sitting, inactive in a public place (i.e. a theater or a meeting).
- As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break.
- Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit.
- Sitting and talking to someone.
- Sitting quietly after lunch without alcohol.
- In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic.
What Was Your Score?
A score of 10 or more is considered sleepy. A score of 18 or more is very sleepy. If you score 10 or more on this test, you should consider whether you are obtaining adequate sleep, need to improve your sleep hygiene and/or need to see a sleep specialist.
So just like with everything else in life, the older we get, the more we realize that we should probably cut our dad’s a little more slack and pay attention to their quirks instead of just being annoyed by them. In light of all the goofy dads out there celebrating Father’s Day on this June Sunday, let them snore and hold the remote in peace. It’s the least you can do.