The Older Sister Talks Sleep


Tis the season to be exhausted! It happens to me every year. I find myself going in 12 different directions and never getting to sleep at a decent hour. If I am in bed by midnight, I feel like I have really accomplished something and I get up at 5:30. I wake up tired and I go to bed tired. As the season goes on, the more tired I become. By the time Christmas actually gets here, I’m too exhausted to even enjoy it. That’s just not right. It’s seems like the older I get, the worse it becomes. And it’s not just the holidays. I stay up way too late on a regular basis.

I decided that I would do some research on sleep or should I say lack of sleep. I knew there were things associated with lack of sleep, but I had no idea the real toll it takes on your body. It’s pretty scary when you think about it.

The Living Better at 50+ website quoted the Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter saying, “sleep is too important to shortchange. Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect appetite. A lack of quality sleep hampers learning and memory.”

They also say that “Sleep loss may result in irritability and an inability to concentrate. Sleep deficit causes daytime drowsiness with momentary lapses that may result in mistakes such as road accidents. Sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat, and sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells.”

There are some simple changes that you can try to help you get into a better routine toward a restful night. There are seven healthy habits that can help you enjoy a rejuvenating night’s sleep. They may help keep heart disease and cancer at bay, improve your mood and increase alertness and energy levels.

1.Make sleep a priority and keep a consistent bedtime allowing 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Although studies show that the average American adult spends 7.5 hours in bed they actually only sleep 6.1 hours, so allow time to ease into sleep.

2.Relax before bedtime: sip herbal tea, enjoy a book, soft music or gentle stretching.

3.Make your bedroom a sanctuary free of work materials, computers and electronics.

4.Keep the room clean, organized, quiet, comfortable and a cool 65 F/18 C.

5.If night sweats are a problem wear temperature regulating, quick dry moisture-wicking sleepwear and try temperature regulating bedding to help keep you cooler and drier while maximizing sleeping comfort.

6.Exercise regularly, but complete workouts at least two hours before bedtime.

7.Avoid eating, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine before bedtime.

This is going to be my first change for my next year. I turn 58 tomorrow and I want it to be a great year. After this research, I know that one of the best things I can do for my body all around is get more sleep. There is really no reason why I can’t. It’s just rearranging my priorities and I have to make myself a priority!

How about you? Do you make sleep a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of your “to do” list? Let’s say we give this a try and check back next month and see how we all did and if we feel any different. I’m kind of thinking we will.

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