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International Women's Day 2023 - Embrace SLEEP Equity

International Women's Day 2023 - Embrace SLEEP Equity

Theme for Internationals Women's Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity

Equity is about fairness. Fairness for sleep is ensuring that everyone has the opportunity for quality sleep. Not everyone is starting in the same position.

What does this year's theme for International women's day look like in the context of sleep?

Equity is about fairness. Fairness for sleep means we need to ensure that everyone has the opportunity for quality sleep. Not everyone is starting in the same position. At SIEST we embrace #hope and #utility for better sleep. With the right knowledge and support, quality sleep can be achieved. However right now, for sleep, there are dangerous sleep equity problems for women.

Why do we have sleep inequity in Ireland? Some of this is due to:

  1. Child care role split inequity. For sleep this means, middle of the night awakening usually solved by mothers resulting in consistently broken sleep
  2. Drug trials not using female animals initially or sufficient testing across full menses stages. This means we don't even see if certain drugs might be better for women at the very beginning of drug trials.
  3. Sleep apnea assessments use predominantly male markers - meaning these issues show up differently in men and women and this needs to be recognised.
  4. Treatment pathways and solutions. Women are sedating with alcohol. Rise in antidepressant medication prescribing for women is known but hidden. This means it's society condoned.
  5. Menopause related sleep changes, still vast inequality in knowledge and support for women across society. For quality sleep, during this time, the right medical support is needed.
  6. Following ill- advised unresearched trending habits of taking a “me moment” at 12 am at night and 5am.

We also don't realise how dangerous it is to get poor sleep

You might ask… Why are we focused on improving education on antidepressants as a sleep business ?

Primarily because hypnotic can have a sedation effect which is often used to treat both anxiety and getting sleep. But it is repeatedly shown in research to not lead to healthy quality long term sleep. Prescription medication, both refills and new scripts, has grown in Ireland. This is worrying.

Actions you can take

  • When talking about sleep health with your GP ask about CBTi (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) instead of an antidepressant
  • Support new mothers to get their sleep
  • Question why people are following the 5am tik tok trends. Kindly question why your friend is excited about her new wake up at 5am for me time? Every sleep expert will tell you that consistent quality sleep is essential. Why do you think the only time for you is when others are sleeping? Why aren't you sleeping at 5am? How can we help get better quality sleep?
  • Ask your GP about their cessation knowledge for antidepressants in women? Meaning how do they support patients coming off medications?

Actions we are taking

  • Gathering Data. Nationwide survey with Trinity college - launch Q3. Without the data and understand of our sleep landscape we cannot solve problems
  • Useful women's sleep product. Putting women's better sleep at the core of our business. A product that is made for women that is temperature cooling
  • Learning. Course on sleep medicine at Oxford University to learn from the best to help improve our nationals sleep
  • Sharing. Across radio and TV you will find us ...talking about sleep :)
  • Challenging and questioning sleep norms, treatments access and education constantly

Sleep requires an integrated solution

To embrace SLEEP equity we need to look behind the smiles

  • New mothers - community support - necessary nap support. They can't wait until they are older to sleep.
  • Drug trials that include female animals pre human trials
  • Humans sleep drug trials with women at all stages of menses
  • Medical professionals recognising that sleep apnea shows up differently in women
  • Recognition that all menopause sleep problems are not caused or solved by hormones
  • Additional training for GPs for antidepressant medication cessation especially in women.
  • GP’s access to further sleep education. Currently, sleep only approx 30 mins of their training in 6 years study.
  • Recognise that not all sleep related problems in women need an antidepressant but antidepressants in this age group are rising rapidly and disproportionately. In the US 18% women, and for men it's 9%. In Ireland we don't have clear gender split data. This lack of data is the first hurdle.

Thank you for getting to the end :)

Sleep equity is essential for society.

With Hope ... Síne