Want to Sleep Better? Stop Worrying About Sleeping Better

Recharge


Here’s an annoying irony: the more you worry about falling asleep, the harder it will be to fall asleep. This creates a vicious cycle and suddenly you’re in the middle of a thing called insomnia. What is insomnia, anyway? It’s when you can’t fall asleep, you sleep too little, or you wake up before you’ve had enough sleep. When these sleep troubles occur 3 times a week or more and impact how you function throughout your day, this is insomnia.

Sleep issues, contrary to popular belief, are not a normal byproduct of aging. Your sleep certainly changes as you enter your sixth and seventh decade, but it changes in the same way adolescents suddenly seem to stay up all night and sleep all day. Your body will start craving sleep earlier and wanting to wake up earlier, but that’s okay! Or at least not any reason to panic and mess up your sleep cycle with anxiety-induced insomnia.

If you feel refreshed and ready to face the day at 5 AM after going to sleep at 9:30 or 10:00 PM, well then, go ahead and face the predawn day. Buy some sunlight-mimicking lamps, if you’d like, to help your circadian rhythm kick into gear when you wake up early and it’s still dark outside. Keep eating your meals on a steady schedule.

Above all, relax. Take a deep breath. The less you worry about getting sleep, the more sleep you’ll get.

References

  • Fernandez-Mendoza, J., & Vgontzas, A. N. (2013). Insomnia and its impact on physical and mental health. Current Psychiatry Reports, 15(12), 418. doi: 10.1007/s11920-013-0418-8
  • Foley, D. J., Monjan, A. A., Brown, S. L., Simonsick, E. M., Wallace, R. B., & Blazer, D. G. (1995). Sleep complaints among elderly persons: an epidemiologic study of three communities. Sleep, 18(6), 425–432. doi: 10.1093/sleep/18.6.425
  • Kamel, N. S., & Gammack, J. K. (2006). Insomnia in the elderly: cause, approach, and treatment. The American Journal of Medicine, 119(6), 463–469. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.10.051
  • Wennberg, A. M., Canham, S. L., Smith, M. T., & Spira, A. P. (2013). Optimizing sleep in older adults: treating insomnia. Maturitas, 76(3), 247–252. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2013.05.007