Sleep After 40…What You Should Know
Sleep is important.
It restores your mind and your body. It supports your immune system and maintains your cardiovascular health. It even helps to regulate your appetite.
But there can be problems with sleep…and if you’re in your forties or older there’s a good chance you’re experiencing those challenges first-hand.
Sleep Issues and Aging
For babies, children, and teenagers, sleep isn’t usually an issue. Once they’re off to dreamland, good luck waking them up. Any parent who’s ever tried to wake up a teenager for school can vouch for this.
And probably even in your twenties and thirties, getting deep and restful sleep was rarely an issue.
But as early as your forties…that can begin to change.
You might fall asleep earlier…and wake up earlier, too. Or you may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, even when you’re tired.
Older adults also get less deep sleep and less REM sleep. The bad news is that those are the most restful and restorative parts of sleep.
And forget about being able to sleep through anything. Since older adults spend more time in light sleep, it’s easier to be awoken multiple times throughout the night.
Why Sleep Problems Are…Problems
If this were just a matter of things being different as you get older, it wouldn’t be a big deal.
But it’s not that simple. Unfortunately, these changing sleep patterns can cause a variety of issues.
In particular, difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep can lead to long-term insomnia. And that can result in daytime drowsiness (a common cause of auto accidents), difficulties with concentration, and even depression.
Lack of restful sleep can also cause weight gain, and could make you more susceptible to illness.
Causes of Age-Related Sleep Problems
With age, many factors can affect both the quantity and quality of your sleep. These can include:
- Reduced melatonin production
- Menopause and andropause
- Sleep interruptions
The cause of the stress doesn’t matter. Stress…especially long-term stress…will likely have a negative impact on your sleep.
Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are designed to get you amped up. Needless to say, this isn’t helpful when it’s time to sleep.
Your body produces melatonin in response to darkness. This hormone is the signal your mind and body need to relax and prepare for asleep.
Unfortunately, our bodies produce less melatonin as we get older, making it harder for to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Beginning in their 40s or 50s (usually), women’s production of estrogen and progesterone declines. The same happens with men’s production of testosterone. Both sexes will experience a decline in thyroid hormones and growth hormone.
Unfortunately, these declining hormones can disrupt sleep and make deep sleep elusive.
Additionally, weight gain associated with hormone decline can lead to sleep apnea, which can dramatically reduce sleep quality.
And then there are night sweats. If you think this is a burden for women alone, think again. Men can have them, too. If they’re severe, they can make a decent night of sleep impossible.
In your 40s and beyond, you will likely spend more of your sleep time in light sleep, making it easier for your sleep to be interrupted.
Everything from needing to go to the bathroom to being awakened by noises in your home can keep you from getting into a deep sleep, and will mean that you’ll have to fall asleep over and over again.
How to Get More (and Better) Sleep
Fortunately, reduced sleep doesn’t have to be a given. And even if you get fewer hours of sleep…you can make the most of the sleep you do get.
- Cut down on the things that inhibit good sleep at least 2-3 hours before bedtime (like caffeine and screen time).
- If you need to, find time for an afternoon nap so you don’t feel sleepy in the early evening.
- If you think you may have sleep apnea, get a sleep study done.
- Contact Renew Youth to see if hormone imbalance (especially melatonin, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, and growth hormone) may be affecting your sleep.
Rest easier…with help from Renew Youth. Call us at 800-859-7511 or use our contact form to set up your free 30-minute consultation.