Our founder, Todd Healy, recently stumbled across this quote from Andy Rooney: “I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer we get to the end, the faster it goes.” As we head towards the end of one year and the start of a new one, that sentiment rings particularly true.
Last December, we shared information about an MIT AgeLab project that focused on your last 8,000 days. In that piece, we talked about four areas where you could make smart choices to help slow down the decline that comes naturally with aging and ensure not just longevity, but the ability to enjoy those years as well.
Those areas were diet, exercise, intellectual engagement, and making connections.
Following up on that piece, we wanted to focus on a fifth area where good choices and habits can help support overall health, cognitive function, and emotional well-being as we age. Sleep! Getting the right amount of quality sleep can help to improve the time we do have.
How Much is the Right Amount?
Not getting the right amount of sleep can have adverse consequences for your mental and physical health. According to the Center for Brain Health, these include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
How much sleep you need changes throughout the course of your life. Which makes sense. Think about the teenage version of you versus now and how your sleep patterns differ. The Centers for Disease Control has recommendations for how much sleep people should get at various stages of their life, which we have compiled into this infographic:
Good Sleep Habits for Any Age
While the amount of sleep you get each day is important, the quality of that sleep contributes to your health and well-being as well. If you are not feeling rested after getting the recommended amount of sleep, or repeatedly wake up during the night, your sleep quality may be lacking. So let us examine some tips and tricks to ensure that you are getting quality sleep at all stages in your life.
Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock, promoting a more restful and efficient sleep.
Create the Right Environment: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to support a restful night’s sleep.
Keep the Tech Out of the Bedroom: The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and computers can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Aim to power down electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
Watch Your Diet: Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. These can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to restless nights. Opt for a light, balanced snack if you’re hungry before bed.
Stay Active: Regular exercise has numerous health benefits, including improved sleep quality. Engage in physical activity but try to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime to allow your body to wind down.
Address Issues: There are sleep-related difficulties, such as snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy, that can affect your sleep quality (and the sleep quality of your partner). If you are experiencing any of these, it is important to receive an evaluation by a healthcare provider or, if necessary, a provider specializing in sleep medicine.
The New York Times recently published an article providing specific insights on sleep challenges and solutions at different life stages. Here are some challenges to quality sleep that present themselves at various points in life and tips on how to handle them.
Challenge: Alcohol might make you fall asleep quickly, but drinking often leads to fragmented sleep. Having a few drinks can also send you to the bathroom hours after you nod off, making it tougher to sleep through the night.
Solution: If you want to pinpoint how alcohol impacts your sleep, keep a sleep diary and track whether you consistently feel less rested on the days after you drink and adjust your intake accordingly.
Challenge: Insomnia, the persistent inability to fall and remain asleep, can strike at any age, but there are proven tools to combat it. The condition doesn’t always have a clear cause, but it may occur because of a family history of insomnia, stress, or significant changes to your life or routines.
Solution: If you have symptoms of insomnia for more than a few weeks, it’s worth seeking solutions. Talking to a primary care doctor is a good place to start. The standard treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy, which psychologists and sleep specialists can help administer.
Challenge: Many recently retired people struggle with the lack of a routine and flounder without a set daytime structure. This can often lead to developing insomnia.
Solution: Create a new schedule and identify the moments you want to plan your day around (such as a mid-morning walk around the neighborhood or watching the sunrise). And it’s important to stay active since physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Challenge: Natural biological processes can disrupt sleep with a common complaint being overactive bladder, a condition in which people have the urge to urinate more frequently and may get up in the night several times to use the bathroom.
Solution: If you find yourself unable to fall back asleep after getting up in the middle of the night, don’t stay in bed. Try going to a couch or different area of the bedroom and opting for a calming activity, such as reading a few pages of a print book or trying a brief meditation, until you’re ready to fall back asleep.
Be a Sleeping Beauty
Sleep is a vital component of our lives, and ensuring optimal sleep quality becomes increasingly important as we age. By understanding how sleep changes as we age and seeking professional guidance when needed, individuals can embark on a journey towards better sleep.
Remember, everyone’s sleep needs may vary, so experimenting with different strategies and finding what works best for you personally is crucial.
At C3 Financial Partners, we look forward to helping our clients and their advisors gain clarity in their goals and objectives, confidence that they are making the right decisions, and coordination with other advisors.
Securities offered through Valmark Securities, Inc. member FINRA, SIPC. Investment advisory products and services offered through Valmark Advisers, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Representatives may transact business, which includes offering products and services and/or responding to inquiries, only in state(s) in which they are properly registered and/or licensed. C3 Financial Partners is a separate entity from Valmark Securities, Inc. and Valmark Advisers, Inc.