Do you ever find yourself nodding off while watching your favorite evening TV show? Are you frustrated by the fact that you wake up at 4:00 in the morning?
Like so many aspects of getting older, it’s easy to blame our poor sleep on our aging bodies. When we were younger, we remember, getting to sleep was a breeze. No sooner had our heads hit the pillow, then we were dreaming of… well, whatever it was that we dreamt of in those days.
We may not realize it, but, sleep problems have a major impact on our ability to function during the day.
When we are tired, your brains don’t operate efficiently. In fact, some sleep researchers even believe that many older adults are incorrectly diagnosed with dementia, when in reality, they have a sleep disorder. That’s how severe the impact of insomnia after 60 can be.
As we get older, we learn to put up with life’s little aches and pains. Even if we have avoided major injuries and chronic health conditions, we probably feel a little stiff from time to time. “It’s ok…” we think to ourselves. “That’s just a part of aging.”
Sleep is a mysterious process for many older adults. When we are babies, we sleep… well, like babies.
As younger adults, we could doze peacefully with a rock concert going on outside our window. Then, in our 50s and 60s, strange things start to happen. Our internal clock “shifts” and we may find ourselves falling asleep after dinner and waking up at 4 in the morning.
Does a fog envelope you when you awaken in the morning, leaving you groggy and in-between the worlds of night and day? Or perhaps you feel like you are somewhere between Jekyll and Hyde?
When it comes to aging, we face all sorts of challenges. Aches and pains, declining physical abilities, and changing brain chemistry. The worst, however, might be insomnia.
How do you know when to sleep? It’s a ridiculous question, right? Doesn’t everyone fall asleep when it’s nighttime? In reality, it’s not that simple. If it was, so many of us older adults wouldn’t wake up at 4:00 in the morning, even though sun is still on the other side of the world.
One of the most common myths about aging is that older adults need less sleep. The reality is somewhat more complicated. It’s true that our sleep patterns shift as we get older, but, this doesn’t mean that we need less sleep.
When insomnia began to ruin this happy sleeper’s nights, I tossed and turned for hours. After a few months of misery, I figured out it’s best to do what the experts suggest: Get up.