The Detroit Free Press featured an article in May titled “Snooze or Lose,” by Patricia Montemurri. After reading a few lines, I quickly discovered that the article focused primarily on the importance of sleep in the lives of women. If the article focused solely on sleep’s ability to reduce health issues I would have no complaints. Instead, the author used more than a third of the article to discuss how sleep was “better for beauty.” The article discussed studies that have shown that women apparently need more sleep than men do. Women, however, are not the only ones who wake up irritable in the morning. I rarely do. However, if we do, we are not compelled to stay mad 24/7. Are we to assume that men always wake up happy and full of life? I think not. Everyone has bad mornings.

Sierra Brown

Montemurri’s article stated that without “restful” sleep women risk waking up mad or hostile, and even have an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. “Why We Need to Pay More Attention to Women’s Sleep” is an article featured in The Huffington Post, which argues that women sleep differently than men. Similar to claims made in Montemurri’s article, the article says that women tend to be more sleep-deprived than men, and are at an increased risk for insomnia. There are biological and physiological reasons that explain why women sleep differently: “the sex chromosomes and gonadal hormones primarily contribute to the biological and physiological differences, and these are called sex differences.” In addition, environmental, social and cultural influences on biological factors contribute to gender differences.

Montemurri’s article featured sections on sleep aids for mothers, women with insomnia and sleep apnea’s effect on women going through menopause. Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. In Montemurri’s article, Neurology Prof. Dr. Ronald Chervin, director of the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center and the Michael S. Aldrich Sleep Disorders Laboratory, conducted a study showing that patients who were treated for sleep apnea experienced improvements in their facial skin. After viewing photos of these patients’ after-treatment images, women described the images as “more attractive, youthful and alert.” Are patients only interested in the treatment for its physical results? I assumed the most important part of the treatment was actually treating sleep apnea, which is associated with heart disease and diabetes. Are women only concerned with how beautiful and youthful the treatments will make them appear? Well, why shouldn’t they be?

“Now we’re starting to use the argument — you’ll look younger, more attractive and more alert to people who see you,” Chervin said. Doctors and society tell women that looking beautiful and youthful is important. Amy Alkon wrote an article for Psychology Today, “The Truth About Beauty,” which insinuates that more attention is given to the physical appearance of women than men. Alkon claims that there are certain realities that most of us accept, and among those is the ugly truth that most men will not look at an unattractive woman. But what makes a woman unattractive? A great deal of evidence shows that men prefer women with the following features: “youth, clear skin, a symmetrical face and body, feminine facial features, an hourglass figure … full lips, smaller chins, and large eyes.” Women do not place as much emphasis on men’s looks, and are more interested in finding male partners with high status and power.

At some point in life, most of us have been told that looks don’t matter. Did society miss this memo? Alkon’s article disclosed, “The more attractive the woman is, the wider her pool of romantic partners and range of opportunities in her work and day-to-day life.” This is among one of the ugly truths she mentioned, creating “[women’s] desperation to look like they were born yesterday.” Why does society not pick on men for not looking aesthetically pleasing? I am not willing to believe that people genuinely do not care about men’s appearance.

There is nothing wrong with drawing attention to women’s health, but when beauty is included the topic loses a bit of its importance. I would have preferred to read an article that focused on informing both men and women that more sleep is important to their health. As a woman I am proud to say that I am not consumed with men’s and society’s unrealistic standards of beauty. I accept the fact that my face and body are not perfect, but neither is anyone else’s. I believe that good sleep and a healthy body are 10 times more important than physical beauty. I prefer to worry about receiving an adequate amount of sleep and maintaining decent health rather than worrying about ridding myself of all the spots and blemishes that decorate my face. Without sleep I become useless because my body has zero energy. As college students, sleep is something we yearn for and can never seem to get enough of. Ladies, let’s attain restful sleep because we need it to be productive and excel here at the University, not because we are obsessed with looking beautiful and youthful.

Sierra Brown can be reached at snbrown@umich.edu.

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