If you’re one of the “still” surprisingly many that just can’t get the sleep thing right, keep reading! How many times a week do you wake up where you can’t figure out if you’re getting up or going to bed and rolling over is the only option. Or you wake up with a headache, numb leg or that stiff neck that goes right to the shoulder blade and you can’t look left or right, what’s that about? After struggling through a tough day, no way do you have anything left for family play time in the evening.
There’s a time proven, simple method to regain back and enjoy your full days, but most of us definitely take it for granted, SLEEP! “But it’s just sleeping; I’ll sleep when I sleep.” If we all could shift this mindset to, “I need and enjoy my sleep,” That would be a huge step in the right direction. As we age, depending on how “gracefully,” we develop certain health issues, maybe not serious but nagging enough to stop you from playing catch with JR. or piggybacking your Little Princess. Many times we look to doctors and cures for nagging problems that just might be related to your particular sleep habits.
So, what does the Sleep in America poll tell us about the connection between sleep, health and aging? “We reaffirm what we know from the epidemiology of aging that there is a very strong correlation between common medical conditions and a predisposition to sleep disturbances,” says Daniel Foley, an epidemiologist at the National Institute on Aging. “A person may have several medical conditions that they’re seeing their doctor about and they may be getting treatment, but they don’t feel they’re getting better. What may go unrecognized is a tremendous amount of sleep disturbance and daytime sleepiness. What may go overlooked is a major sleep disorder that may be complicating treatment of the other conditions.
“The poll results show we need to educate the public and healthcare professionals about the connection between sleep, health and aging.”
Granted not all health issues can be prevented, but we have to do what what’s in our power to do if you really are health conscious and maintaining health can prevent many of those nagging old problems. What’s the use of working out in the morning, jogging at lunch, eating right all day then crashing at 3:00am on that busted imitation “La-Z-Boy” using your cat as a pillow? Oh! There’s that headache, numb leg, still neck cycle again!!
There are some very simple things you can do to make your sleep more beneficial for you. You’ve probably seen these many times in many forms but this time, it’s time to start! You’re going to pin this article up and make an effort to change your poor sleep habits.
Sleep is as important as food and air. Quantity and quality are very important. Most adults need between 7.5 to 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you press the snooze button on the alarm in the morning you are not getting enough sleep. This could be due to not enough time in bed, external disturbances, or a sleep disorder.
Keep regular hours. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day. Getting up at the same time is most important. Getting bright light, like the sun, when you get up will also help. Try to go to bed only when you are sleepy. Bright light in the morning at a regular time should help you feel sleepy at the same time every night.
Stay away from stimulants like caffeine. This will help you get deep sleep which is most refreshing. If you take any caffeine, take it in the morning. Avoid all stimulants in the evening, including chocolate, caffeinated sodas, and caffeinated teas. They will delay sleep and increase arousals during the night.
Use the bed for sleeping and sex. Avoid watching TV or using laptop computers. Know that reading in bed can be a problem if the material is very stimulating and you read with a bright light. If it helps to read before bed make sure you use a very small wattage bulb to read. A 15 watt bulb should be enough.
Avoid bright light around the house before bed. Using dimmer switches in living rooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful. (Dimmer switches can be set to maximum brightness for morning routines.)
Don’t stress if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. It will just make matters worse. Know you will sleep eventually, no pressure.
Avoid exercise near bedtime. No exercise at least 3 hours before bed.
Don’t go to bed hungry. Have a light snack, avoid a heavy meal before bed.
Bedtime routines are helpful for good sleep. Keep routines on your normal schedule. A cup of herbal tea an hour before bed can begin a routine.
Avoid looking at the clock if you wake up in the middle of the night. It can cause anxiety. This is very difficult for most of us, so turn the clock away so you would have to turn it to see the time. You may decide not to make the effort and go right back to sleep.
If you can’t get to sleep for over 30 minutes get out of bed and do something boring in dim light till you are sleepy.
Keep your bedroom at comfortable temperature. Not too warm and not too cold. Cooler is better than warmer.
If you have problems with noise in your environment you can use a white noise generator. An old fan will work or you can listen to soft music on a timer.
Know that the “night cap” has a price. Alcohol may help you to get to sleep but it will cause you to wake up throughout the night. You may not notice it. (It is worse if you have sleep apnea because the alcohol makes the apnea worse.) Sometimes people snore only if they have had some alcohol or may snore worse if they already snore.
If you have a sleeping partner, ask them if they notice any snoring, leg movements and/or pauses in breathing. You may have a sleep disorder or you may just need to increase your awareness about your own sleep need. If you have any concerns see your doctor.
The proper mattress and pillow can make the biggest difference in preventing those nagging problems. Educate yourself on the new advancements in mattress technology and sleep systems that are designed to provide the right support to minimize pressure to acceptable levels for different body types and sleeping postures, maintaining back and spine alignment. Shift the mindset from the one mattress fits all, coils and springs to the luxury and convenience of air mattress beds, adjustable beds, latex beds and memory foam beds. Not only do these sleep systems provide the necessary support and comfort, they give you the option to rearrange the layers for a myriad of comfort levels to ensure you get exactly what you want in a mattress and not, “just living” with it.
Now get started and work out while you sleep. Make the necessary changes that will help you feel refreshed and have the energy to get through a busy day and the stamina to spend quality time with the family at night. Give yourself and your family the chance for you to “age gracefully.”
Catch my next article that will cover the advancements in mattress technology.