Did you know that a newborn baby sleeps for close to 22 hours? Children, too, need a lot of sleep but not quite as much. What about you? How many hours of sleep do you need? You may have noticed that as a teenager or even a young adult, you would have gotten away with a few sleepless nights but now, the thought of sleeping when it is past midnight may put you off. Sleep quality, though less obvious to measure profoundly affects us. It is important to know how to overcome changing sleep patterns as we age. Before that though, let us take a look at some benefits of sleep.
The Benefits of Sleep
The fact that we sleep for almost one-third of our lives should tell us something about its importance. There are four stages of sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In the latter, our body acts as though it’s awake and this helps with our memory consolidation. In fact, many great thinkers of our time, including the author Mary Shelley, have reported that their best ideas or solutions to problems have come to them in their sleep. Along with improving mental wellbeing, sleep acts like our silent caretaker, helping us be rid of toxins and healing damaged cells as we snooze.
How Sleep Changes As You Age
As one ages, the number of medicines for health-related issues rises. The side effects of some of these medications may include insomnia. The conditions themselves, such as frequent night-time urination and pain can also interfere with the quality of one’s sleep. A lack of exercise can also cause you to stay awake for longer than you want to. Finally, age-related stressors like retirement and losing family can disrupt your sleep. With these changes, it is important to implement some good habits.
Create A Conducive Sleep Atmosphere
The atmosphere in your bedroom can make or break your sleep. Do remember to keep your bedroom dark and cool and quiet. You can use blackout curtains to block off the lights if you are living in a very brightly lit area. It is also a good idea to remove digital clocks from your direct line of sight so that its light doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
Having an afternoon nap can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can give you the energy that you need to perform your tasks. However, they can also interfere with your night-time sleep creating a vicious cycle where you lay awake at night but feel sleepy during the day. So, try to keep your naps short. 15 to 45 minutes is a good amount without feeling groggy afterward.
Aerobic exercise is important as it promotes restful sleep. Some great examples of low-impact aerobic activities are swimming, light jogging, cycling, and using an elliptical machine. Even dancing is a great way to exercise and release stress. Even exercising for 20 minutes a day can have a dramatic impact on your quality of sleep.