Why You Need to Make Sleep a Number 1 Priority
You probably joke about being sleep deprived. After all, you’ve probably tried to get more sleep, but whether due to medications you’re on, lifestyle changes or physical changes, nothing seems to work.
A lack of sleep, however, really does put you at a health deficit. That’s because your body performs several important functions while you’re in sleep mode, including:
- Restoring nutrients.
- Refreshing your mind.
- Restoring your spirit.
As you age, you don’t actually need more sleep; however, older adults typically get less sleep than they need for optimal health.
Reasons why you aren’t sleeping
Here are some of the reasons that may be hindering you from getting a full night’s rest:
- Breathing problems. There are multiple factors at play here. Often, if someone snores loudly during sleep, the snoring will interrupt their breathing and prevent a sound sleep. When breathing is severely interrupted, sleep apnea could be the cause. This diagnosis requires the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to rectify the problem. In some cases, individuals might need a pacemaker to guarantee a consistent heartbeat, which improves breathing, and ultimately, sleep.
- Insomnia. Anxiety, aging concerns or health issues can contribute to an ability to sleep.
- Aging. The simple fact of aging increases your likelihood of developing sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
- Pain. Conditions such as arthritis can prevent you from getting a good sleep, too.
- Frequent urination. An overactive bladder greatly interrupts sleep.
- Sleep timing. As you age, your body’s internal clock changes. Experts call this “advance sleep phase syndrome.” It activates your internal clock to go to bed earlier, and as a result, wake up earlier. If you ignore this clock and stay up late, you’ll probably get up earlier and earlier, and experience sleep deprivation as a result.
How to get more sleep
If you can’t get enough shut eye, here are some tips for getting more zzz’s:
- Set your alarm. Set your alarm for the same time every morning and commit to getting up at that time. Getting your body into a consistent rhythm every day will help you get to sleep at night. It’ll help if you also eat your meals at the same time. And avoid drinking before bedtime to avoid bathroom trips. Stay away from stimulating activities, such as smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine or exercising.
- Get your vitamin D. Daylight has a significant impact on your sleep, as it regulates your sleeping and waking cycle. If you can, get outside every day and soak in the sun for a few minutes.
- Check your medications. Visit your doctor and talk about your medications’ affect on your sleep. Consider if adjusting the dose or time of dosage could help you sleep better.
- Follow a ritual. Before bedtime, do the same activities to give your body the signal that it’s time to wind it down. Some things you could do include showering, listening to soft music, reading a book or doing gentle stretching. Avoid watching TV or looking at an electronic screen, as these are stimulating activities.
- Be active. During the day, the activity you do can actually help you sleep better. Daily exercise will invigorate your body, but avoid doing any activity too close to bedtime.
If you’re being seriously affected by a lack of sleep, visit your physician to get to the root of the problem. A few simple changes in diet, sleeping habits or medication could make all the difference.
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