People of all ages benefit from getting enough sleep, but many people in their midlife years find it particularly difficult to do so. Roughly one-third of adults suffer from insomnia symptoms, making it the most prevalent sleeping issue.
But why is it that the older we get, the harder it is to sleep? And what can we do about insomnia if it’s making our middle years a bit of a battle? Read on to find out.
What Factors Affect Sleep As We Age?
All stressors can interrupt sleep; these stressors could be biological, psychological, or social in nature.
For women going through perimenopause or menopause, we know that hormonal changes during that stage might impact sleep. Estrogen receptors are found throughout the body, including in the brain’s sleep receptors. When estrogen levels fall, disruptive sleep persists. Progesterone is a hormone that’s especially helpful for sleep, thus its decline is another important aspect. Other menopause symptoms, such as night sweats, restless legs, and itching can also interfere with sleep.
For men and women, mood swings, loss of memory, elevated stress levels, anxiety, and feelings of despair are just a few examples of psychological stressors. All of these stressors can be upsetting, especially when they appear out of nowhere—and they can all interfere with sleep.
Every person is impacted in some manner by social pressures and stresses. Living in the 21st century requires juggling a lot more than it did in past generations, from having children to the demands of a job and home duties. A life that was previously fulfilling and pleasant becomes distressing and difficult when you suffer from insomnia.
It’s understandable why many people are not coping when there’s so much going on and so much to think about. The capacity to cope is lower when stress levels are at their peak, making social pressures and obligations even more challenging.
It’s a bit of a vicious circle. When people worry excessively, they have trouble sleeping, which results in their inability to cope. This makes them worry, and the cycle continues. However, addressing sleep problems can help stop the cycle.
How Much Sleep Does The Body Need?
To a large degree, quality rather than quantity matters when it comes to sleep. Although 8 hours is frequently cited as the ideal amount of sleep, not everyone needs as long. Instead of concentrating on the number of hours you’re sleeping, paying attention to the quality of sleep you’re getting is crucial.
A night of interrupted sleep is considerably worse for the body than shorter periods of high-quality sleep. Remember that sleeping less is a typical side effect of aging. We cannot turn back in time. As we age, so do the sleep receptors in our brains, resulting in less sleep.
What Can Help With Sleeplessness?
It might be difficult to know where to begin with evidence-based treatments and therapies to improve sleep. But it is feasible to change sleep patterns with an accurate diagnosis from an accredited clinical practitioner.
• In most cases, sleeping drugs don’t resolve underlying sleeping problems. While they might be beneficial in the short run, they conceal symptoms instead of dealing with the underlying issue of sleeplessness. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and other behavioural and psychological approaches, such as mindfulness, may be more efficient.
• The most common form of insomnia treatment is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBTI). Long-term sleep aids are taught through their evidence-based methodology. CBT has been shown to be quite successful for people going through midlife stressors. It can be used in conjunction with other treatments and therapies and aims to retain the brain to fall asleep.
• For women struggling with sleeplessness because of menopause, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may be a possibility. Although it’s not a miracle cure, it may aid in controlling other menopause symptoms, which could help with sleep in some cases. Estrogen is effective in controlling the majority of menopause symptoms. But progesterone, especially the body-identical progesterone given at night, is frequently the hormone that helps people sleep the most, though this isn’t always the case.
Can A Bedtime Routine Be Helpful?
Preparation is crucial when preparing for a good night’s rest, and a relaxing wind down ritual may really help calm the mind and get the body ready for the rest it needs. Your body will appreciate a peaceful countdown to bedtime, whether it involves dimming the lights, shutting off electronics, or simply relaxing.
• Avoid going to bed too early if you want to sleep. Rather, give yourself time to get tired and to process the day. You can also put your anxieties and stresses of the day down on paper, as this will help ease your mind and wind you down.
• Consider your sleeping environment, including the sort of bedding you’re using and the bed you sleep on. Make sure your duvet is suitable for your climate, that your pillows are supportive and comfortable and that your sheets don’t make you too hot or cold. Even these minor adjustments will have a significant impact on your sleep.
• Spend time during the day practicing mindfulness and meditation, and learn to let go of stress whilst doing so. You become more adept at letting things go as you practice these techniques, which can help you get a good night’s rest.
• Stick to a regular wake-up hour. Once you’re awake, avoid spending too much time in bed. It’s crucial to be awake and active throughout the day in order to develop a “sleep drive” at night.
• Try to refrain from napping during the day. Save your sleep for nighttime.
• Start the day with some natural light (if possible,) as it is tremendously good for your health and well-being.
Midlife sleeplessness is a common affliction, but it’s not one you need to resign yourself to. There are numerous causes of insomnia and many methods and strategies you can use to curb it.
If you’re suffering from insomnia, you can use these tips as a new hope for a night of better sleep.
Please note: This article is not to be used as medical advice. If you have any questions about your sleep health, speak to your doctor. This post may contain affiliate links.