Sleep is a very important component of a person’s general health. Regardless of how healthy one’s diet is and how he or she works out regularly, if he or she doesn’t get enough rest, it can still take a toll on their health.
But, as people age, changes in their usual sleeping pattern usually occur: they may get sleepy earlier in the day, or wake up even before the sun rises. This, according to experts is part of getting old and is completely normal. However, having disturbed, disruptive sleep almost every night is not a normal part of aging.
No matter how much busy they get, or stressed out with their working or personal lives may get, sleep is just as important to our physical and emotional health as it was when we were younger. In fact, they need a good quality of 7.5-9 hours sleep at night now that they are older because it helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease.
Studies have found that middle-aged people who don’t sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Inadequate sleep can also increase their risk for degenerative health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and breast cancer in women.
Although it is proven that age has nothing to do with sleeplessness, some older adults still find it hard to sleep and feel rested during the night. Different factors such as stress, exposure to technology and an unhealthy lifestyle can be contributing why they never had a satisfying snooze time at night.
Common causes of insomnia and sleep problems:
•Poor sleeping habits and environment
Many older adults today suffer from sleeplessness because of poor sleeping habits and an adverse environment. A typical room has TV, computers, phones and other gadgets within reach. At the same time, middle-aged people have an irregular bedtime, which confuses the body’s natural clock.
•Pain, health conditions, and medications
Common middle-aged health conditions such as a frequent need to urinate, pain, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis, nighttime heartburn, and Alzheimer’s can interfere with sleep. At the same time, medications used to cope with these conditions can also cause sleeplessness at night.
Studies say that life at 30-50 tends to be the most stressful part of life. Drastic changes usually happen during these years which can bring about stress. Stress is one of the main reasons why many middle-aged people don’t get enough hours of rest.
•Lack of social engagement
Sometimes, the lack of social engagement can interfere with sleep too. Participating in social activities with friends, family and colleagues greatly encourage a good night’s rest.
•Lack of sunlight
Vitamin D does not only benefit your skin; it also aids your sleep at night. The bright sunlight helps regulate melatonin and your sleep-wake cycles.
•Lack of exercise
Middle-aged people who are too sedentary may never feel sleepy and have a great night of rest at all. The body naturally releases melatonin—chemicals that make you feel sleepy when it feels tired. If all you did was sit or slouch all day, you can either never feel sleepy or feel sleepy all of the time.
How can middle-aged people sleep better? Here are some tips:
• Establish an encouraging sleeping setting
o Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool.
o Remove all gadgets and electronics that can call for staying up late such as the TV, computer, and other gadgets.
o Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
o Move bedroom clocks out of view. The light can disrupt your sleep and anxiously watching the minutes tick by is a surefire recipe for insomnia.
• Keep a routine
o Draft a sleeping schedule and stick to it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time, including weekends.
o Develop soothing bedtime rituals that can relax your brain and muscles such as taking a bath, playing calming music or meditating.
• Eat your way to better sleep
o Limit caffeine intake a few hours before bedtime. Stay away from coffee, tea, carbonated drinks and even chocolate later in the day.
o Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
o Eat food rich in melatonin such as cherries, milk, oats and bananas.
o Satisfy your hunger prior to bed but don’t sleep on a full stomach.
o Avoid big meals and spicy foods just before bedtime.
o Minimize liquid intake before sleep
• Tire yourself through workout
o Do Aerobic exercises during the day.
A study at Northwestern University found that aerobic exercise resulted in the most dramatic improvement in the quality of sleep, including sleep duration, for middle-aged and older adults with a diagnosis of insomnia.