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September 10, 2012

Living Independently: What to Do When You Have Trouble Sleeping

When was the last time you got a good night’'s sleep? If you are like most mature adults, it has probably been awhile. You should consider yourself normal if your sleep cycle has undergone a few changes since you cruised past 60 years of age. The reasons for changing sleep patterns are individual, myriad, and not always clearly understood; the 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep that experts say adults need is something that eludes most adults as they grow older. 

What’s Keeping You Awake?

Everyday stress, family and work relationships, and financial problems keep most adults up at night periodically. Age often brings additional challenges that disturb our nightly rest, such as menopause, incontinence, arthritis pain, sleep apnea, muscle aches, and so forth. While chronic lack of sleep can take a heavy toll on mental and physical health, researchers are discovering that, for many adults, cumulative sleep hours (including naps) are as valuable as consecutive sleep hours. In other words, many people seem to obtain the same benefit from 6 hours of nighttime sleep divided by a bathroom break plus a 2-hour afternoon nap as they do from 8 hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep. 

Making the Most of Rest

While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sleep needs, experts are changing their recommendations. Instead of encouraging adults to stay in bed and tough it out when they can’'t sleep, sleep experts now recommend that you get out of bed after 20 minutes if you are unable to fall asleep. Get up and read or engage in a quiet activity until you feel tired again before going back to bed. 

Check back next time to learn how to create a sleep sanctuary in your bedroom! To see what a bedroom in a Kendal at Oberlin cottage is like, sign up for a free tour here.

Photo: namealus


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