How Sleep Changes With Age
How Sleep Changes With Age
As we age, our needs for sleep change too. Did you wake up feeling good? Well-rested? Recharged? Are you ready to face the day? Or do you “just need five more minutes,” of sleep after your alarm goes off, which may turn into ten, into fifteen, and then over an hour. In any case, maybe you’ve noticed your sleep wants and needs have changed. But why? Well, it may have something to do with your age.
Strange as it might sound, the definitive, end-all-be-all solution to a perfect sleep doesn’t lie in pharmaceuticals packed with an appropriate melatonin dosage, a sleek new pillow design featuring memory foam, or a diary chronicling hours spent in dreams. Actually, understanding your sleep starts with understanding yourself, as cliché as that may sound!
Understanding your Sleep Schedule
You may need to understand how many hours of sleep you’re getting first. How long are you using a screen prior to going to bed for real? Are there any external factors, such as allergies or stress and anxiety, preventing you from a fully restful sleep? These and more are all elements that must be taken into consideration. Simply relying on a daily dose of Nyquil isn’t enough if you aren’t willing to put in the work (yes, there’s work) into getting the full amount of sleep your body and mind needs.
In her The New York Times article “Turning In,” journalist Melissa Kirsch writes ” In my 20s, I decided that if I was to lead a full and exciting life, I was going to have to be comfortable going to work exhausted.” At first, this seemed like a sustainable attitude to Kirsch. However, the older she got, the more responsibilities began to pile on top of each other, eventually culminating in a now severely outdated sleep and life schedule. “Now, in middle age, I’m determined to rely on an alarm only when I’m catching an early flight. Bedtime is sacred, and violating it requires a PowerPoint deck describing risks and rewards and return on investment.”
It would seem everything is easier in youth, including a lack of sleep that the body can almost naturally compensate for, but as we age, that natural tanking ability seems to slow and wither, and sleep, true, meaningful sleep, becomes all the more valuable, and not something to be taken for granted.
Fulfillment and Strategies for Sleep
If you’re struggling with getting a good night’s rest, the answer to your problems may not lie in something like a daily sleep supplement. You may have to reevaluate your lifestyle and schedule first. It’s important to gain fulfillment from an active life, but not at the expense of your well-being that you can only get from a worthwhile sleep. Fulfillment is important, yes, but what good is fulfillment if you’re too exhausted to face it?
If you struggle with falling asleep, try avoiding screens at least thirty minutes before going to bed. Read a chapter or two out of a book you either enjoy or maybe have never read before. In actuality, attempting to focus at night may tire you further, and drive you to sleep! I find that the reading strategy helps a lot! Especially if I read until my eyelids get heavy. Using a physical book as opposed to an ebook is very helpful too.
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