Sleep Apnea Specialist Upper Darby PA
Cherry Hill, NJ
Willow Grove, PA
By Jennifer Lang
Once upon a time, getting a good night’s sleep wasn’t an issue for me. I went to bed when I was tired and woke up feeling refreshed. No tossing and turning before I drifted off to dreamland—no middle-of-the-night awakenings. Then I started having babies, who roused me at all hours and made eight-a-night a thing of the past. But even after they started sleeping soundly, I couldn’t seem to slip back into my old, good-sleep patterns. Why?
“Many factors go into whether or not we’re able to fall asleep and stay asleep, such as stress, hormones, and what’s going on in our lives at a given time,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers. “And since all of these factors fluctuate as we go from one life stage to another, we can expect our sleep patterns to change as well.”
The statistics alone on Americans and insomnia could keep you up nights. As a nation, we spend more than $3.5 billion on prescription sleep medications each year, trying to bring relief to the 126 million of us (that’s six out of 10 Americans) who experience symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week. How does this inability to get a good night’s rest affect us? Ninety-three percent of Americans believe sleep loss can impair work performance, and 86 percent feel a lack of sleep can lead to health problems.
So what’s an insomniac to do? “Understanding why you might be experiencing trouble sleeping can help you make changes that will lead to better sleep,” says Teitelbaum. Here’s a guide to how your sleep can change through the years—and what to do to give yourself the best shot at a better night’s rest.
Teens and early 20s
For a young adult, the obvious sleep robbers—late nights, too much television and computer time, poor diet, and school or new-job stress—clearly play a role in sleep disorders, but teens and 20-somethings also have a physiological reason for not sleeping well. Their circadian rhythm—the natural body clock that signals when to go to sleep and wake up—is in flux.
In young adults, the body produces melatonin—a hormone created by the brain to help induce sleep—at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. (in adults that happens earlier, around 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.). So a teen’s sleep cycle gets pushed back, which explains why she might not feel sleepy until around 11 p.m. or midnight. What’s more, everyone gets a “dip” in their circadian rhythm twice a day; for adults they typically come at 2 a.m. and 2 p.m., while adolescents hit their low points around 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., which explains both their torturous early-morning wake-up calls and late-afternoon naps.
Too much caffeine can also affect sleep in this age group. From after-school lattes to late-night energy drinks, a caffeine jolt lasts well beyond bedtime—affecting a young adult’s ability to fall and stay asleep and worse, setting the body clock back even further.
• Stay warm. Take a hot bath or shower before getting into bed. Cold temperatures c...
Author: Jennifer Lang
Copyright 1999-2009 Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living/Alternative Medicine/InnoVisi...