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Get a Good Night's Sleep for Healthy Aging
As we age, staying active is important in order to keep our bodies, and our minds, in shape.
By Donovan Baldwin
The older we become, the less our bodies want to be active, due to several natural aging changes. At the same time, activity is incredibly important for maintaining health of our bodies and minds. So, keeping our bodies in shape is very important for all of us, even the younger ones who may be reading this.
While we recognize the value of exercise and nutrition in health aging, many of us overlook something very easy to modify for better health...a good night's sleep.
At any stage of life, sleep is valuable, but, as we age, sleep becomes very important to healthy aging.
As with so many other things, such as digestion and recovery from injury, aging brings with it a change in sleep patterns which we need to learn to recognize, control, and, if possible, modify. These normal changes in patterns commonly bring with them more difficulty in getting a good night's sleep. Even worse, it sometimes seems that, even if we DO get a good night's sleep, we don't seem to feel rested and refreshed when we awake.
Recent studies have shown that, when it comes to good health in general, and healthy aging in particular, sleep is right up there with nutrition and exercise.
There are many reasons why it can be difficult to have a good night's sleep, and reasons why it may be difficult to realize you aren't getting it.
Sometimes you sleep, but, don't sleep well enough, to achieve the possible health benefits.
Sometimes, as we age, there are aches, pains, worries...and those trips to the bathroom...that never seemed to happen when we were young. There may be snoring...yours or your partner's...that interrupt the normal, healthy, sleeping pattern.
So, what can you do to reduce the problems which may cause you to lose sleep.
Many substances, such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can cause us to lose sleep.
Too much liquid before going to bed, can keep you awake, or interfere with sleep, as can smoking. Not only is smoking harmful to your health, but it can cause you to lose sleep. Excessive noise, light, a TV or radio in the bedroom and snoring are some more reasons that can keep us from sleeping.
Donít try to go to bed and watch TV or listen to the radio. Watching TV, or working on the computer, close to bedtime can delay falling asleep and keep you awake longer.
Regular, moderate exercise, but, not shortly before bedtime, can help reduce stress and help you relax. It can also reduce muscle or joint pain often associated with aging. You should also reduce eating unhealthy foods that cause heartburn, and, definitely, stop drinking caffeinated beverages before you go to bed.
One thing often overlooked is your pet. Pets can be a great comfort, and, they can provide happiness, pleasure, and, yes, relaxation. However, they can also cause you to lose quality sleep. If they sleep with you and roll around, or wake up during the night, they may be waking you as well. They might snore, or they may trigger allergies.
Are you a woman?
Did you know that it is harder for woman get a good night's sleep as they age? Women tend ot have more stress, and they sometimes feel they are just too busy "doing" for others, to set aside time for regular exercise.
Man or woman, if you donít get enough sleep at night, it will reduce your alertness during the day because youíre tired. If there are long periods of sleepless nights, they can result in high blood pressure and heart disease.
Short naps during the day, less than 25 minutes, can help you get through the day, but don't expect them to make up for lost sleep. In fact, napping for too long can interfere with getting a good night's sleep.
As bedtime approaches, slow things down. Start turning off a few lights. The darker room will tip your body, and brain, that it's almost time to sleep. Turn off the TV, close down the computer, and, maybe, drink a small glass of warm milk. Don't ever eat a heavy meal or snack just before you go to sleep...or try to.
Since stress is an everyday part of life these days, and really good at interfering with sleep, learn some methods for managing stress. As mentioned earlier, regular, moderate exercise is good. Meditation is actually pretty easy to learn and a great way to reduce stress. It also has been shown to help lower blood pressure, which is good, right?
Yoga combines the benefits of exercise and meditation, and, like meditation, is easier to practice than you might believe.
A good night's sleep is important to healthy aging, and anything you can do to sleep well for the proper amount of time will have huge health benefits.