By Sarah Jane Duffy, Boomerang staff writer
Each year when you "spring forward" an hour into Daylight Saving Time, where does that "lost" hour come from? If you're like many people, you take it out of your sleeping time, figuring you have way too much to do to go to bed earlier on time-change night. Some adapt quickly to the change in their daily routine, but others find it more difficult. Even small changes to your sleep habits can have far-reaching impacts on your well-being.
Most adults don't get enough sleep on a regular basis. Many folks believe that as they get older they need less sleep, but this is not true. According to research, the amount of sleep needed rapidly declines from birth into your 20s. By then, you're body has achieved a sort of sleep equilibrium. For optimal health, you need just as much sleep at age 65 as you did at 25. According to the National Institutes of Health, older adults need approximately 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order to maintain overall healthy lifestyles.
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may not be getting enough sleep:
- Do you need an alarm clock to wake up?
- Do you sleep longer and wake up more rested on the weekend?
- Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning?
- Are you tired during the day?
- Do you have bags or dark circles under your eyes?
- Do you have trouble staying awake while sitting in a public place, such as a movie theatre or meeting?
- Do you suffer from early morning headaches?
Aging alone does not cause difficulty sleeping, but many factors that may come with advanced age can make it more difficult to get quality sleep, including pain, stress, depression, medication side effects and others. Distractions from our busy, tech-laden lives may also play a role in poor sleep. Experts say you should "unplug" from things like computers, phones and even TV for an hour or two before bedtime to give your brain time to slow down.
Here are some tips from the Mayo clinic that will help you get a better night's sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends; being consistent reinforces your body's internal clock and promotes better sleep at night.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Put some space between mealtime and bedtime; don't go to bed hungry or stuffed.
- Exercise daily; regular physical activity can promote better sleep and help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep./li>
- Avoid naps, or limit them to 20-30 minutes early in the day.
- Limit your intake of liquids before bedtime so you do not wake to go to the bathroom.
- Create a room that's ideal for sleeping; often, this means cool, dark and quiet.
- Develop a bedtime routine that will alert your body that it is time to wind down and go to sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor to rule out other possible causes such as side effects of prescription medications, chronic pain, depression, and snoring to name a few. Diagnosis and treatment of disorders or medical conditions can significantly increase the amount of good sleep you get each night.
As the Greek poet Homer wrote in The Odyssey: "There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep." Are you making time for sleep?
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