Fed up with sleepless nights as you age? Many women over 40 have trouble falling or staying asleep. Make these 5 simple changes now and get your rest!
Print this Aging Manifesto and change your perspective.
Sleepless Nights As You Age
I rubbed my eyes and sat upright in bed. Glancing over at my ancient LED clock, I saw a familiar number: 3:30 am. Although I’d slipped into dreamland without a problem, clearly something inside me was off kilter.
In women, the internal clock is more likely to be shorter than a full 24-hour cycle, making it more likely that they will awaken earlier, which may also increase their susceptibility to early-waking sleep disturbances like insomnia.Sleep Foundation
Sound familiar? Whether you’ve just begun struggling to get good sleep or it’s been a problem for years, you’re in good company. Hormonal shifts, mental health challenges, and heaping responsibilities add up to significant sleep difficulties for women over 40.
What’s Your Flavor?
When it comes to sleepless nights as you age, most women fall into one of three categories.
- Trouble getting to sleep
- Trouble staying asleep
- A combination of the two
Insomnia in some form affects up to 40% of Americans each year, and it can take many different forms.Sound Sleep Health
Experts say perimenopause brings sleep issues due to hot flashes and night sweats, which tend to fall around the same time each night. While anxiety and racing thoughts make getting to sleep a challenge, depression classically wakes us up in the wee hours.
Let’s not forget the hot topic of partner snoring! Studies found that “Sleeping with a snoring partner has been reported to increase daytime feelings of stress, depression and fatigue”.
Whether or not sleep apnea is to blame, snoring can become especially troublesome if your partner refuses to take action.
5 Simple Changes
These simple changes just may make a huge difference, not only in getting good rest, but in your long-term health. More and more, studies are confirming the essential healing benefits of getting your Zs.
An ongoing lack of sleep has been closely associated with hypertension, heart attacks and strokes, obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety…Sleep Health Solutions
Even if you’ve tried one or all of these suggestions in the past, take the time to consider how you can recommit to making sleep hygiene a priority. Your efforts will reap benefits immediately and for years to come.
Before You Go To Bed
Long before sleepy time, make sure you are adding a bit of exercise each day. The relationship between sleep and movement can’t be denied.
Physical activity increases time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase.The Sleep Doctor
Don’t consider yourself an athlete? A simple, daily walk will do! Try it, you’ll be amazed.
Most of us are quick to admit we are creatures of habit. Routine helps us settle into a productive pattern, and sleep is no different. Just as we’ve developed a method for cooking, working, and even driving a familiar route, we need to set up cues for bedtime.
As tempting as it is to fit “one more thing” into your day, a regular bedtime is the cornerstone of getting great rest. Choose a time you can reliably stick with and add about half an hour. After all, you can’t expect yourself to drop off as soon as your head hits the pillow.
What makes you sleepy? It’s a simple question but one you may not have given much thought. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 60% of Americans watch TV right before falling asleep. (health.com)
If the comfort of familiar chatter helps you relax, you may do just as well with a white noise machine. Current studies report that blue light emitted from screens depresses naturally occurring melatonin levels. The result? You may get to sleep, but you probably won’t stay asleep.
Preparation for a good night’s sleep doesn’t start in the middle of the night when you’re wide awake and staring at the ceiling.Huffington Post
As we age and go through natural hormone fluctuations, we need all the help we can get to stay asleep. Consider shutting off screen time up to two hours before bed. Or, at the very least, move all screens outside your bedroom.
Negotiate Your Sleeping Space
If partner snoring is waking you up or the anticipation is keeping you from drifting off, it’s time to take this seriously.
The National Association of Home Builders predicted that by 2015, 60 percent of all custom upscale homes would be built with two “owner suites.” I’m not sure that prediction materialized, but it’s certainly a trend.
Occasional prodding and poking are fine, but if you’re counting on a long and happy marriage, beware the resentment and shoving. Get to the heart of the matter as quickly as you can.Everyday Health
Clearly this isn’t a novel problem, but it can be serious. Make your partner aware of the issue and suggest they address it with their medical professional. Try one of the abundance of sleep appliances on the market.
Should your partner refuse to address the issue, consider setting up separate sleeping spaces. You’re already making a nightly trip to the couch, right?
If all else fails, consider napping during the day. When I was just out of college, I made good friends with a guy from Central America. He unashamedly took his siesta in his car over lunch hour every day.
The 20-minute power nap — sometimes called the stage 2 nap — is good for alertness and motor learning skills like typing and playing the piano.WebMD
When my kids were preschoolers, I’d pick them up from their half day program and bring them home to have a snack and watch their favorite PBS show. While I cuddled next to them, I’d doze off for exactly the length of that half hour program.
Maybe you did something similar. I remember how refreshed my sleep-deprived body felt afterward and how I craved my power nap on the days I missed it.
Which one of these tips can you try to combat sleepless nights as you age? Next time you feel like throwing your bedside clock across the room, I hope you’ll give these ideas a shot.
Let us know what helps you sleep!