Is better sleep attainable in your 50s? Upon reaching this milestone, I noticed a gradual decline in my sleep quality. Nights were spent tossing and turning, replaying conversations with myself, or attempting to solve issues from two decades past. Insomnia had taken hold.
Even when I did manage to drift off, the tranquillity was short-lived as night sweats disrupted my sleep, leaving my upper body drenched in perspiration. This cycle of sleep deprivation persisted until I recognised the need to take proactive steps to address my situation. I was stuck in an endless cycle of poor sleep, which really affected so many areas of my life.
Sleep Affects Our Body Health Systems
Today, let’s delve into a crucial aspect of our lives that often takes a backseat in our busy routines—sleep. In this post, we’ll explore how insufficient sleep can trigger a domino effect, affecting everything from our circulatory and digestive systems to our nervous and reproductive systems.
Digestive System: Unraveling the Weighty Issue
Sleep plays an important role in hormones that govern hunger and satiety. When we fall short of getting adequate rest and better sleep, the delicate balance of leptin and ghrelin, the duo overseeing our eating behaviours, get thrown off. The consequence? Increased appetite, weight gain, and an elevated risk of diabetes. The tangible effects are evident in tightened waists and diminished energy levels, a shared experience we can all relate to.
Endocrine System: Balancing Hormones Through the Night
Sleep has a direct impact on our endocrine system, the regulator of hormone secretion. Deep sleep, in particular, prompts the release of growth hormone, essential for the repair and recovery of our body. Disrupting this intricate hormonal balance through poor sleep habits can lead to various health issues.
Additionally, the influence of growth hormone on muscle growth and recovery becomes crucial. As a woman over 50, you should be strength training to mitigate muscle loss. Growth hormone release during slow-wave sleep stimulates muscle recovery. Insufficient sleep poses a risk of heightened muscle dystrophy as we age, emphasizing the importance of adequate rest for overall health.
Disrupted hormone levels can also diminish sexual desire and affect reproductive capacity in both men and women. Achieving a state of sleep zen can have a positive influence on your sex life, particularly during menopause when it might be thrown out of balance. Better sleep serves as a buffer, mitigating the impact on this crucial aspect of life.
Immune System: Guarding Against Sleep Deprivation
Lack of sleep diminishes our body’s ability to defend itself. Cytokines, proteins released during sleep, play a crucial role in combating infections and inflammation. Insufficient sleep renders us more susceptible to illnesses.
A compromised immune system diminishes our capacity to manage the demands of our busy lives, whether it involves dealing with aging parents, navigating our teenagers’ emotions, or coping with workplace stress. Improving sleep is essential for better coping with life’s challenges.
Dermatologic System: The Impact of Beauty Sleep
Have you ever thought of why the term “beauty sleep”? The answer lies in the impact of sleep on skin health. Sleep deprivation hastens the aging process of the skin, influencing elasticity, pigmentation, and the skin’s resilience against stressors such as sun exposure.
Personally, I’ve noticed that consistent broken sleep not only leaves me feeling less refreshed but also contributes to skin outbreaks. Undoubtedly, a good night’s sleep is the cornerstone of an effective skincare routine, ensuring the skin stays fresh and rejuvenated, much better than anything you get in the pharmacy or drugstore.
Nervous System: The Exhausted Brain’s Toll
Insufficient sleep takes a toll on the brain, affecting concentration, decision-making, mood swings, and creativity. In older women, these impacts often manifest as ‘brain fog’ and difficulties in remembering both short and long-term memories.
The fascinating aspect is that enhancing the quality of sleep can significantly alleviate these cognitive challenges. Additionally, chronic sleep deprivation is closely linked to mental health issues, underscoring the crucial need to prioritize rest for overall well-being.
Skeletal System: Building Strong Bones Through the Night
The health of our bones hinges on the continual cycle of breakdown and repair, predominantly taking place during sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation has detrimental effects on bone metabolism and marrow composition.
As we age, preserving bone density becomes increasingly vital in warding off conditions like osteoporosis and reducing the risk of falls. Adequate sleep emerges as a crucial component in fortifying our bodies, especially as we navigate the later years of life.
Urinary System: The Circadian Rhythm of Sleep and Pee
Have you noticed how often you need to pee during the night as you age? Irregular sleep patterns can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm of urine production, resulting in heightened urinary output and disturbances in sleep patterns.
Effectively tackling this issue requires acknowledging the impact of daytime and nighttime routines on our sleep-wake cycle. It also ensures that our daily eating and drinking habits contribute to a conducive environment for a restful night’s sleep.
Am I getting enough better sleep?
Where more than half of the world’s adults grapple with sleep issues, a good night’s sleep might seem elusive. However, this doesn’t have to be you. It also is not enough to get enough sleep; your sleep quality is important. The average adult needs, on average, 7-9 hours of sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation. You don’t want too little, or too much for that matter.
The key to better sleep is to craft bedtime rituals that set the stage for a peaceful and rejuvenating sleep experience. Let’s explore a range of practices for your body and mind that can transform your bedtime routine and wake you up refreshed every morning.
Bedtime Setup for Better Sleep:
Set a consistent sleep schedule:
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. The circadian rhythm helps regulate when we feel sleepy and when we feel awake, with the body typically being more alert during the day and more inclined to sleep at night. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, exposure to natural light during the day, and minimizing exposure to artificial light at night can promote better sleep.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine:
Engage in calming activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practising gentle yoga to help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. These activities not only relax the body but also quiet the mind, making it easier to transition into a restful state. By incorporating these calming routines into your bedtime ritual, you can create an environment conducive to a peaceful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.
Create a comfortable sleep environment:
Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Ensure the bedroom is not overly warm for a restful night’s sleep. Adjust the thermostat to a cool 15-20 degrees Celsius (60-67 degrees Fahrenheit).
Bedtime Routine for Your Body
Limit screen time:
Avoid electronic devices such as phones, tablets, and computers at least an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle
Avoid heavy meals and caffeine before bed: Try to eat dinner at least a few hours before bedtime. Opt for a light snack that combines protein and healthy carbohydrates, like unsweetened whole-grain cereal with milk. Indulge in a cup of chamomile tea, steering clear of caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
Harness the power of soothing scents. Keep a lavender plant on your nightstand, or use lavender oil on your pillow. Vanilla can also induce a sense of calm.
Self Care Practice:
Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to help ease your mind and body into sleep. Treat yourself to a gentle self-massage. Soothe your feet or hands with warm water, and massage away tension to promote relaxation.
Aches and Pains Relief:
Address any discomfort by using a heating pad or hot water bottle on sore areas, ensuring a pain-free night’s sleep.
Banish disruptive noises by turning on a fan or using a white noise machine. Create a serene auditory environment to enhance your sleep quality.
Bedtime Rituals for Your Mind:
Let Go of Daily Concerns:
Release the worries of the day before hitting the hay. Commit to leaving behind distractions to create mental space for rest.
Write in a journal:
Spend a few minutes jotting down your thoughts, worries, or things you’re grateful for to clear your mind before bed.
Meditate or Pray:
Embrace meditation or prayer as tools to quiet your mind. Focus on positive and calming thoughts to ease into a restful state.
Lullaby of Music:
Discover the power of music as a sleep aid. Select calming tunes, whether it’s classical tunes, soft jazz, or soulful lullabies, to lull your mind into a tranquil state.
Create a Sleep Trigger:
Establish associations with sleep by adopting specific bedtime objects or practices. Whether it’s soft flannel pyjamas or hugging a teddy bear, these triggers signal your mind that it’s time to unwind.
Better Sleep in your 50s
In conclusion, the quest for better sleep is not just a pursuit of rest; it’s a journey towards enhanced well-being in every aspect of our lives, especially in our 50s. Quality sleep is the cornerstone of a healthier, more fulfilling life, from the intricate balance of hormones influencing our body to the profound impact on cognitive functions and emotional resilience.
We’ve explored the interconnectedness of sleep with various bodily systems—how it influences the circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune systems, and more. The importance of nurturing bedtime rituals for both the body and the mind cannot be overstated. From dimming the lights and slowing down physical activities to engaging in relaxation techniques and creating sleep triggers, these practices contribute to better sleep in our 50s and beyond.