Are You Getting Good, Quality, Restful Sleep Regularly?
Are You Getting Good, Quality, Restful Sleep Regularly?
This problem has bugged me for quite awhile. Many nights I am not getting enough good quality sleep. I find myself waking up tired. That tiredness lasts throughout the day.
This has led me to research sleep. I wanted to see how much sleep people my age need and to learn the steps I have to take to get the best sleep I can.
Here is what I discovered.
All Adults Need between 7 and 9 Hours of Sleep Each Night
The belief older people need less sleep than younger ones is just a myth.
There are different reasons people do not get the sleep they need. Let’s look at them.
Many people have a problem with insomnia, In fact, 40 to 50% of those over 60 experience it. I have had insomnia off and on for years. As I read more about it, I came to see this may be a habit I developed. I may have trained myself to have trouble falling asleep.
Many people snore and some have sleep apnea. I wrote a post about this. If you want to read it, please click here.
What Else Causes People to Get Less Sleep Than They Need?
Here are three things which can cause problems for older people and prevent them from getting the sleep they need:
- Death, Divorce, Moves, or
Various illnesses and medical conditions can keep people from getting good sleep. Here are some:
- Back problems
- High Blood Pressure
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Renal Failure
- Immune Disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease, or
- Multiple Sclerosis
There also are these 3 syndromes and disorders:
- Restless Leg Syndrome.
People with this have uncomfortable sensation in their legs, arms or other parts of their body. It feels like an uncomfortable itch, “pins and needles” or something crawling on their legs. They have an irresistible urge to move their legs. It is estimated 7 to 10% of older adults have this syndrome.
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
This is repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs while asleep. These movements occur every 20 to 40 seconds. They often interfere with normal sleep and cause the person to feel sleepy during the day. About 45% of older people have a mild form of this.
- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder
Here the person acts out vivid, unpleasant dreams with vocal sounds and sudden and violent arm movements during REM sleep. They’re physically acting out what they are dreaming.
The last cause of poor sleep is disruptions to our Circadian Rhythm.
- Each of us has our own body clock. This is called our Circadian Rhythm. It maintains our sleep/wake cycle and controls when we are awake and when we are asleep. At times outside factors impact this and cause problems for us.
The best example is a person who works on rotating shifts. One week, they work during the mornings, the next during the afternoons and the third all night. This interrupts their sleep routine and they have problems adjusting to it.
- Staying up later on weekends when a person gets to bed at the same time every weeknight can play havoc with their circadian rhythm.
- Light and darkness also impact it.
- Circadian Rhythm for many can also be interrupted by the change to Daylight Savings time.
What Does Normal Sleep Look Like?
To have good quality restful sleep each night, there are four stages we go through.
- The first is that drowsy state between being awake and nodding off.
- The second is deeper sleep where body temperature cools and our mind is no longer engaged with our surroundings.
- The third and fourth are called Deep Sleep. This is where there’s the lowest activity in our bodies. This is where our bodies rebuild themselves. Energy is restored and hormones are released.
After Stage 4, we slip back to Stage 2 for a few minutes. Then we enter dream sleep. This is called REM sleep.
Each stage lasts about 1 ½ hours. To get the proper rest we need, each of us has to experience all four stages.
How Do You Get This Quality Restful Sleep You Need?
You may realize now you are not getting this type of deep sleep you need and you are wondering how you can get it.
If a sudden life change (a death, divorce, retirement, etc.,) is keeping you from getting it, it may be beneficial to talk to a counselor.
If you have a medical condition that is causing your problem, ask your doctor what you might do.
- If medications are the reason, your doctor may be able to recommend something else.
- For back problems and arthritis, the answer might be your mattress might be old and worn out. Get a new one. If you can’t afford one, get a mattress topper.
- If you are suffering from GERD, elevating your head and back while you sleep may be all you need.
If a change in your Circadian Rhythm is causing it, get your rhythm back on track as soon as you can.
- Go to bed the same time every night.
- When the switch to Daylight Savings time occurs, compensate for it by getting to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier every night and getting up 10 to 15 minutes earlier every morning rather than making the adjustment all at once.
What About Insomnia?
Dealing with insomnia can be easier. Here are steps to take:
- Make sure to only use your bed and bedroom as a place to sleep.
- Exercise during the day.
- Start a regular routine for going to sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every night even on weekends
- Take time to calm down before going to bed. Don’t watch violent movies or tv shows. Don’t read in bed.
- Play relaxing music for 20 to 30 minutes before going to bed.
- Don’t eat meals a few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid coffee and alcohol close to bedtime.
- Take a warm bath.
- Drink warm milk or tea.
Any time you go to bed and find you’re still awake 20 minutes later, get out of bed and do something until you are tired and ready to sleep.
Is There Anything You Need to do?
After reading this, you may be saying you are getting good, quality sleep every day. There is nothing you have to do. I want to congratulate you for that.
If you realize you’re not getting the right sleep you need, hopefully you have gotten some ideas of the steps you can take to start getting better sleep every night.
Just remember – when you don’t get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, you will be more tired during the day than you should be. Lack of that sleep you need may cause health problems for you.
You don’t want that to happen. Start today to take the steps necessary to get good, quality, restful sleep every night.
If you have any comments about what you have read here, I’d like to hear them. So, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is email@example.com.