Sleep is an important part of wellbeing, and it can affect a person’s mental health, immunity against disease, and ability to function in daily life. If you have problems getting to sleep or are waking up in the night, you are not alone! Sleep is a problem for nearly 1 in 4 Americans.
Some causes of sleep disruption include:
Alcohol or caffeine intake
Hormonal changes, e.g. pre-menopause
There are many other factors associated with getting a good night’s sleep. The important thing is to identify why you aren’t sleeping well and address those issues.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Experts recommend that adults get a minimum of 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but most people get an average of only 6 to 7 hours of sleep each night. Most people are getting too little sleep!
The older you get, the greater your chances of having a sleep disorder. Fifty percent of adults age 65+ have a sleep disorder. If sleep problems persist, experts recommend ruling out health issues by seeing your doctor. They can help you identify sleep disorders or causes of sleep disruption and find ways to get the rest you need.
Learn more about common sleep disorders from the Cleveland Clinic.
Naps Can Be Good!
For older adults, short naps can be good for the brain. A 30-minute nap can refresh and sharpen the mind, while anything longer than 90 minutes may negatively affect cognition. Long naps can make you groggy and affect your ability to sleep through the night. To learn more about napping, be sure to read up on evidence-based nap guidelines from Hopkins Medicine. The article defines the best time to take a nap — between 1 and 4 pm — and how long those cat naps should be.
Put Devices Away
One possible cause of sleep difficulties is that people are spending more time online. Smart phones and mobile devices make it easy to play games, text others, and look at social media for hours on end. But electronic devices expose users to light and activity. Studies now show that limiting time on electronic devices at night helps improve sleep quality. Just like you should avoid late night snacks and drinks, most people sleep better when they avoid late night use of electronics.
Set a Regular Schedule
If your bedtime or sleep schedule has been disrupted, take action to recapture your sleep routine. Set an alarm for when you should stop using devices and start winding down for bedtime. Plan low-key activities like reading a novel or poems before bedtime. And remember to set a timer for naps so you don’t sleep too long during the day, as long cat naps can make it harder to sleep at night.
Sleep can be elusive after a loss, but it is important to your health and wellbeing. Your overall health after loss matters. If you are struggling after a loss, find local grief support near New Bedford, Massachusetts, and see your physician if you are feeling sleep deprived.