This is branded content.
A good night's sleep can do wonders for the body and mind, according to the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
As you sleep, your body works to refresh and replenish your cognitive function and physical health. If you've suffered a night of interruptions, you'll most likely feel it in the morning - brain foggy and feet dragging you to an extra mug of coffee.
A once-off night of wide eyes and fidgeting legs may not warrant major concern, however, if you've noticed an increasing amount of lost sleep, it may be time to adjust your lifestyle or seek medical advice. (1)
Sleep difficulties can affect individuals of all ages, however, according to MedlinePlus, as you get older your sleeping patterns can change, causing you to wake up more frequently - three to four times a night on average.
Deeper states of sleep are generally hard to come by and the sufferer is often very aware of their inability to get much rest. (2)
The potential causes of sleep deprivation will vary from person to person; however, they may include:
- Underlying medical issues
- Poor sleeping habits and environment
- Lack of exercise
- Stress and anxiety
- Sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD)
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Counting sheep or playing your favourite film in your head doesn't always help you fall into the blissful slumber that you've been craving all day.
Further changes (whether large or small) may need to be implemented. It's important to note that the ideas posited below may or may not be suitable for your individual condition, however, you can consider them in consultation with your health care provider if needed.
- Ensure your melatonin levels are optimised
Melatonin is often referred to as the "sleep hormone", as it plays an important role in maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
According to a study published in a German medical journal, melatonin levels within the body decrease with age and can, in turn, contribute to various sleep disorders.
Therefore, the introduction of a small dose of melatonin via supplements may aid your drooping eyebags and irritability. (3) (4) (5)
It's vital to understand, however, that while some studies have seen some positive signs as an impact of melatonin use, not every individual will react the same way.
- Create an ideal sleeping environment
After a long day at work, you may find yourself drifting off into a state of reverie, counting the seconds until you can rest your body and mind.
Coming home to a distraction-filled bedroom, however, that oozes anything but peace and quiet, may not be the "welcome home" you need.
According to Bree Taylor from Best Mattress Australia, "sleep is recognised as the third most important factor in living a healthy and stress-free life."
It's therefore wise to ensure that your sleeping environment is well set-up with rest as it's primary focus.
Possible ideas to achieve this include:
- Purchasing a high-quality mattress
- Removing ticking or bright clocks
- Maintaining a clean area
- Removing electronics
- Keeping the space dark and quiet
- Regulating the temperature
- Repainting with a calming colour. (6)
- Participate in physical intimacy
It may not surprise you to learn that engaging in physical touch before bed has been suggested to aid in improved sleep.
The hormones released through sexual intercourse are known for reducing stress and inducing pleasant states of relaxation, according to the Sleep Foundation. Cuddling and "spooning" may also have similar affects. (7) (8)
- Identify underlying causes
If your sleeping habits haven't improved after trying a few home-remedies or tips, it may be wise to seek medical assistance to address any underlying causes. Acquiring a better understanding of what may be contributing to your difficulties may prove more beneficial than simply soldiering on. Failing to identify the problem or receive proper care, may only lead to worsening symptoms.
- Reduce anxiety
Those with anxiety or other mental health disorders are generally more prone to sleep reactivity, as explored by the Sleep Foundation. Sleep deprivation caused by stress may be more appropriately delt with by a professional, especially if your condition is on the severe-side. (9)
If, however, you're seeking a few soothing bedtime rituals you can implement at home, you may consider the following:
- Practice proper sleep hygiene
- Take a long, calming bath
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
- Try meditation or yoga
- Practice mindfulness.
- Minimise screen time
If you spend hours watching television or scrolling through your phone before attempting to hit the hay, you may wish to rethink those habits.
Psychoanalyst, Laurie Hollman Ph.D., revealed that keeping your eyes glued to screens at night can keep you from falling asleep and/or achieving sufficient rest.
This is suggested to be caused by cognitive stimulation and the stress responses within our bodies that get triggered whenever we react or physically respond to a device (text-message, video, etc.) (10)
The National Sleep Foundationrecommends avoiding the use of electronic devices up to thirty minutes before your desired sleep time. Leaving your phone in another room and opening up a book instead may aid you in falling asleep much faster than anticipated. (11)
Exercise has been suggested to improve the quality of sleep, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep. Insomnia relief may also be a perk, as explored by the SleepFoundation. This may be due to the potential realignment of your internal body clock, anxiety-relief and temperature changes that come with physical exertion. (12) (13)
Depending on your overall wellbeing and capabilities, light to moderate exercise may do the trick. It's wise, however, to consult with your doctor to determine what level and length of physical stimulation will aid your body and mind.
- Monitor your food and drink intake
As mentioned above, it's recommended to avoid consuming specific substances including:
- Sugary drinks/foods
- Overly processed meals
Introducing the substances mentioned above into your body may cause unwanted mental activity and/or digestive problems. Excessive consumption of water may also cause you to visit the bathroom more often than you'd like.
As you age, incontinence becomes a more common problem as well. Therefore, limiting or monitoring your fluid intake is recommended.
As you get older, you may be more prone to sleep-related complications. This isn't an ideal situation considering how beneficial sleep is for the mind and body.
Ensuring you practice proper sleep hygiene, and seek professional help when required, is important to maintaining a healthy sleep routine.
- "Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency", Source: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
- "Aging changes in sleep", Source: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004018.htm
- "Should Melatonin Be Used as a Sleeping Aid for Elderly People?", Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6699865/#b21-cjhp-72-327
- "Melatonin in elderly patients with insomnia. A systematic review", Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11828891/
- "Melatonin and Sleep", Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/melatonin
- "How to Design the Ideal Bedroom for Sleep", Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/how-to-design-the-ideal-bedroom-for-sleep
- "The Relationship Between Sex and Sleep", Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/sex-sleep
- "How Cuddling Affects Your Sleep", Source: https://www.sleep.org/cuddling-and-sleep/
- "Anxiety and Sleep", Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/anxiety-and-sleep
- "Effects Of Screen Time On Adult Sleep", Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/effects-of-screen-time-on_b_11407544
- "Why It's Time to Ditch the Phone Before Bed", Source: https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2019/09/why-it-is-time-to-ditch-the-phone-before-bed/.
- "Exercising for Better Sleep", Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep
- "Exercise and Insomnia", Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/exercise-and-insomnia