Why Sleep is Important for Your Happiness as an Older Adult
Do you want to be happier? It’s so easy, you can do it with your eyes closed. Literally. Good sleep is essential to positivity. This is especially true for those of us in our 50s and 60s, who have a tendency to suffer from more sleep problems than we did when we were younger.
Your Body is Working Hard While You Sleep
As you slumber, your body repairs itself, consolidates memories and balances hormones. Sleep multiples happiness. After a good night’s sleep, we are able to appreciate life more fully. Our problems seem more distant, our friendships feel warmer and our minds are more open to new opportunities.
Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Nothing will set us up for failure faster than a restless night, spent tossing and turning. Are you satisfied with the quality of your sleep? Do you wake up every morning rested and ready to take on the day?
Modern Life Conspires to Keep Us from a Good Night’s Sleep
To start with, our environments are filled with the incessant buzz of a thousand small distractions. Like an angry swarm of bees, electronic messages surround and distract us. Adding to the noise are the silent worries that circulate in our mind – fears for our grandchildren, worries about money and anxiety about the world around us.
It also doesn’t help that baby boomers today are always on the move. As a result, we don’t always prioritize getting a good night’s rest. Many people try to “get by” with 5-6 hours’ sleep. Are you one of them? If so, you may be sabotaging your happiness without knowing it.
How Does Sleep Contribute to Our Happiness?
First, getting enough restful sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy body. Sleep boosts our immune system and repairs cell damage. And, when we feel healthy, everything else in our lives feels better.
Sleep also recharges our batteries and gives us the energy that we need to live with verve and passion. How are you going to reach for the stars if your lack of energy keeps you rooted to the ground?
As Older Adults, We Are Facing a Unparalleled Opportunities
But, in order to experience everything that the world has to offer, we need energy. And, for that, we need sleep. What would you do if you had more energy?
So, if sleep is so important, what can we do to get more of it? More importantly, how can we ensure that the sleep that we do get is restful and gives us the energy that we need to get the most from life?
Start with Your Environment
Make your bedroom a temple to relaxation. Remove unnecessary distractions and electronic devices. Learn to see your bed as a place for romance, intimacy and sleep. Pay attention to how you use your bedroom. Do you watch TV in bed? Or, check email?
Maybe it’s time to move these activities to another time and place? If you have any pain or discomfort, consider investing in a better mattress. You spend more time in bed than any other place. You should be comfortable.
Go to Bed at a Regular Time
Over time, your body will start to anticipate your bed time and will prepare itself for a good night’s sleep. Unless you have time commitments, try to wake up without an alarm. Your sleep has a natural rhythm and you don’t want to wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle.
Don’t Try to Fall Asleep
This may sound counterintuitive, but, trying to force yourself to sleep may actually keep you awake. Instead, it is better to simply allow your mind to wander. The more dreamlike your thoughts become, the closer you will drift towards sleep. Just step back from your day and breathe. Feel the stress leaving your body. Don’t worry about changing the world. That can come tomorrow.
Leave Your Negative Thoughts on the Bedside Table
Falling asleep can be a stressful time for people who worry. As we float towards sleep, our guard drops and it is easy for our anxieties to surface. Does this sound like you? If so, you might want to try keeping a “to do” list by the bed.
Before you go to sleep, simply write down the things that you are anxious about. Your mind will be more likely to let you rest if you convince it that everything is under control.
A Few Drops of Aroma-therapy Oils Can Help
Sometimes, the smell of lavender, neroli or ylang ylang put us in the right frame of mind for bed. The important thing is to take control of your own sleep and keep trying until you find a set of rituals that work for you.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Accept Bad Sleep
Good health and abundant energy are essential to finding happiness. Learn to see sleep as a valuable process, rather than a necessary evil. The better you sleep, the more positive you will become. And, the more positive you become, the better you will sleep. Are you ready to take responsibility for your own sleep? What is the one thing that you will do today to sleep better every day?
Take Action to Sleep Better Today
Start a diary and use it to leave your worries and “to dos” on the bedside table. If you wake up with something on your mind, write it down and allow your mind to drift off into peaceful sleep.
Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What have you done recently to improve the quality of your sleep? Please join the conversation.