I have been dragging for the last few days. Actually I have been zombie-like. The reason became clear when I realized I had not been getting a good night’s sleep all week. I am not a happy camper when I am unable to remember the simplest things and I’m moving through the day like a turtle. It is said, without enough sleep we all become tall two year olds. And yes, I was also cranky and on the verge of tears, just like a toddler. I have been dissecting the reasons for my lack of sleep and, in the process, I’ve revisited some advice for a good night’s sleep that you too might find helpful.
“Along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process. As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger.” Terrific, just one more aggravation in the journey through seniorhood! We still need 7-9 hours of sleep to be at our best. To quote the French writer, Nicolas Chamfort, “Living is a sickness to which sleep provides relief”. We want to embrace the brief reprieve sleep provides us. But how do we do it?
7 Tips to Dreamland
1. Go to bed at the same time every night. Sorry, you’ll have to give up those late night parties! Get up at the same time every morning. No channeling your teenage self. Actually, getting up at the same time is even more important than when you go to bed.
2. Do not take naps longer than 20 minutes. Couch Potato alert: Keep it brief. A quick nap can be energizing but longer ones will keep us awake at night.
3. No TV or eating in bed. Dang, that’s one of my favorites! The experts say no reading in bed either but I’m not sure about that. It seems to me if reading makes you sleepy it would be good to be in bed when that happens, right?
4. Avoid caffeine for 8 hours before bed. For all you Starbucks lovers that means earlier trips to the drive-thru. Take your afternoon coffee or tea break by 2 p.m. unless you go to bed after 10 o’clock.
5. Avoid alcohol in the evening. OK, clearly I am not following that tip! I’m not advocating tying one on but experts do say people who have one drink a day live longer and I do want to do that. I enjoy my glass of wine or cocktail before dinner but just one and done.
6. Do not lie in bed for longer than 30 minutes trying to go to sleep. Get up and go do something quiet in another room, like reading or listening to music. Actually, I have one of those sleep apps on my phone and it works really well to get me back to sleep. Mine is called WhiteNoise.
It has rainstorms, wind sounds, chimes, Tibetan bowls, and other very hypnotic sounds that usually do the trick. If you have a sleep partner and you wake up and want to use your WhiteNoise app in bed be sure you have your earplugs by your phone.
7. Try to get EXERCISE everyday. You should be doing this anyway to stay healthy and well. you know this! Get out there and get moving doing something you enjoy. You’ll sleep better.
SLEEP TIGHT! SWEET DREAMS!