Why Can't I Get a Good Night's Sleep?
Overcoming Insomnia and Sleep Deprivation
Sleep is fundamental for mammals and a range of other creatures, too. People of all ages need regular, quality sleep for correct bodily function the next day. As optimum health and fitness levels are only sustainable if we get enough sleep, we should view any ongoing sleep disturbances with utmost concern.
Sleep Like a Baby—Whatever Your Age
Sleep Problems in the Young
Children past the toddler stage rarely have difficulty staying asleep once their parents can get them to sleep—bed-wetting problems aside. Young adults also experience few sleep-related disorders until they become parents themselves when family life wreaks havoc with all long-established routines.
Babies are a "law unto themselves" and always disrupt normal sleep patterns for their parents. Subsequent offspring exacerbate the situation, causing considerable stress for couples if one or both partners are in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation. The only solution, albeit temporary, is to send the children to the grandparents or other close relatives overnight.
Partners who snore, sweat excessively or occupy more than their fair share of the bed often cause their "other half" to move into the spare room or even the sofa to catch up on sleep. As it’s not possible to "bank" sleep, it isn’t long before nerves become frayed and tempers strained.
The key for young professionals with hectic schedules and deadlines is to find enough hours in the day to accomplish all the tasks they need and not miss out on sleep.
Night workers adapt to turning their days into night and experience no harm from slumbering during daylight hours. Creative types may prefer to be "night-owls" when they find they can concentrate better without the distractions of the day.
Midlife Sleep Crisis?
Being too hot or too cold has a marked effect on the ability to sleep; this is particularly relevant for women during the menopause. They can prevent hot flushes and night sweats by lowering room temperature accordingly and choose duvets with the appropriate 'tog rating' for the season. A portable plug-in fan is handy during hotter months.
Men, in particular, see an increase in disturbed sleep at night as they grow older because of frequent trips to the toilet. This can be an early indication of prostate trouble.
Inactivity during the day as age increases causes sleepless nights. This is an ongoing problem for the retired who lead sedentary lives now they no longer have to stand for long periods or do a full day’s work. Sleep becomes lighter or broken as a result. Getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep won't impede usual routine or induce tiredness the next day, but, sleep should be of the quality variety and not intermittent.
The "Twilight Years" Can be Filled With Sleepless Nights
Older people often become fatigued during the day from boredom and inactivity. Mental stimulation and physical movement are both essential to sustain normal sleep patterns at night. If the elderly become bed-bound, they often fail to differentiate night from day. Carers of the bed-bound should ensure there's access to suitable reading material and a television or radio nearby.
Drawing the curtains at the same time each morning and evening helps set the boundaries between day and night. Soothing music is therapeutic in the evening and sets the scene for undisturbed sleep. Older folks may avoid bedtime drinks for fear of needing the toilet during the night but a warm, milky caffeine-free drink shouldn't increase urinary frequency. Dehydration causes potential health issues so reducing fluid intake is never sensible at bedtime. A small glass of water before bed prevents early morning headaches.
In extreme old age, it may be necessary to wear nappies if bed-wetting becomes a persistent problem that causes distress to all concerned.
Ways to Promote a Good Night’s Sleep, Whatever Your Age
For all age groups, there are numerous ways to guarantee a satisfactory night’s sleep, without counting the proverbial sheep. Instead of spending endless nights tossing and turning beneath the duvet, be active throughout the day so tiredness is a natural occurrence later. Resisting the temptation to nap during the afternoon encourages better sleep at night. Potter around outside, enjoy plenty of fresh air and sunlight and do something different and invigorating every day. Brisk, short walks, or leisurely strolls both help maintain a healthy weight and keep mind and body active. Conversely, Mediterranean cultures place great emphasis on their daily siestas, so if a nap in the daytime suits your lifestyle, then fine.
Plenty of Fresh Air and Exercise Guarantee a Good Night's Sleep
Get Some Exercise Every Day to Sleep Better Each Night
Gentle exercise, even for the less mobile, promotes quality sleep and is beneficial in maintaining bone density and suppleness. Regular aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, and cycling all delay the onset of arthritis and other degenerative diseases which hinder mobility.
Be discerning in your choice of food and drink. Never consume alcohol during the few hours before bedtime; although it induces sleep, it leads to sudden wakefulness at night and is a significant factor in erratic sleep patterns.
Avoidance of spicy or sugary foods is advisable as chronic indigestion is another cause of broken sleep. An acid stomach causes so much discomfort; it can keep sufferers awake all night if they can't find an indigestion tablet! For those who need to lose weight, there’s no better incentive to give up sugar than the thought of a deep, indigestion-free sleep.
Don’t Overmedicate to Fall Asleep, Try to Use Natural Remedies Without Side Effects, Instead of Sleeping Pills.
Avoid prescribed sleeping pills as usage of these only benefits pharmaceutical companies. It's smarter to discover the reason behind your sleeping disorder or buy herbal remedies, only using prescription drugs when all else fails. Although such medication is valuable as a short-term relief, tolerance soon develops. Exceeding the recommended dose to achieve the same effect is foolish. The risk of dependency and harmful side-effects such as hallucinations and disorientation outweigh the benefits. A milky drink and digestive biscuit are far safer alternatives.
As we age, we’re prone to experience aches and pains in places we’ve never had them before and this can be the main reason for sleep deprivation in seniors. Painkillers are necessary drugs but continual usage isn’t advisable; always try to alleviate the pain in other ways first.
For a Good Night's Sleep, Make Sure You Pick the Right Mattress!
Adjusting to Your Needs to Avoid Insomnia And Disturbed Sleep
Adaptations to current living arrangements are unnecessary to maintain normal sleep habits with the advancing years unless you can no longer climb the stairs or require an adjustable bed. A warm, well-ventilated bedroom and a comfortable mattress that suits individual requirements are often all that’s needed. This makes all the difference between a refreshing night’s sleep and a restless one. Disturbed sleep is difficult enough to contend with but waking with more aches and pains than the night before is far worse. Irritability and impaired brain function occur the next day as sleep deprivation has a cumulative effect.
Manufacturers recommend we replace mattresses every eight years. As we spend a third of our lives asleep, this is valuable advice and it’s worth investing in a top-of-the-range product. Check that yours is still in excellent condition and hasn't become lumpy or saggy. If it has noisy or dangerous springs poking through the outer casing then it's time for a new one! Rotate your mattress every three months to reduce the likelihood of dips and uneven wear and tear. Those who suffer from back pain will already appreciate the need for an orthopaedic mattress, but for anyone who's just developed the ailment, it's vital that their mattress provides the correct support.
Physical Intimacy Assists Sleep And Strengthens the Bond of Your Relationship
Relaxation and Intimacy Aids Quality Sleep
A long, soothing soak in a relaxing bubble bath before bedtime is always conducive to quality sleep; there are plenty products to help relax aching muscles and relieve tension. Scented candles, subdued lighting or incense sticks all create a restful atmosphere. A massage also helps and this sets the mood for romance for those with partners; human intimacy and tenderness always aids sleep. Older couples, too, will benefit from sexual activity which always succeeds in promoting a healthy night’s sleep. Solitary sex is also sleep-inducing. It's well-documented that people of all ages sleep better after sex.
Awake Refreshed After A Sound Night's Sleep!
What Else Can You Do If Sleep Remains Elusive?
Rather than toss and turn all night, becoming irritable, it’s best to leave the bedroom, prepare a hot drink, and walk around the house. This is also worth trying when waking with a start, unable to go back to sleep. Afterwards, sit down and read a book or magazine for a while. Try to find a reason for your wakefulness. Is there some noise or other disturbance preventing sleep? Is there trouble at work, an unresolved argument or unfinished business to attend to? Banish your daytime troubles from the bedroom to avoid sleepless nights; often those worries have vanished by daybreak! Clear your mind of nagging thoughts and relax. Anxiety and tension are sleep's worst enemies so learn to dispense with fear, apprehension and negative thoughts to achieve a sound night’s sleep. If the above recommendations have little effect and you still experience difficulty sleeping most nights, seek advice from a healthcare professional.
Calming, Sleep-Inducing Music Sets the Mood for a Good Night's Sleep
After reading this article, are you more confident that you'll get a good night's sleep?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2017 Stella Kaye