Is Sleep Related To Age?

August 02, 2019

Is Sleep Related To Age?

I am not a scientific study, but I am getting older. As I’ve gotten older my body has changed, which is pretty normal. When I was younger I could eat pizza and hot dogs and fried chicken at any time of the day or night, and when it came time to go to bed, I did just that. As I’ve gotten older, though, when I eat pizza and hot dogs and fried chicken, those foods tend to repeat on me. Often at night, I find myself reaching for antacids to counteract the reflux that I’m experiencing after having eaten these foods. If you haven’t experienced GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), consider yourself lucky. It’s estimated that 15-30% of the population of the US suffers from this. I was diagnosed with GERD by my asthma specialist a few years ago. She explained to me that when you try to sleep with GERD, the acid rises from your stomach to your esophagus. This means that you shouldn’t lie flat on your back, but instead, sleep in an elevated position to keep the acid down. GERD is just one change that some people experience, especially as they get older. But what else happens to us as we age with relation to sleep?

As we age, we become more likely to develop health conditions - some more, and others less, severe than others. A variety of these conditions, such as sleep apnea, snoring, and restless leg syndrome, can drastically affect the quality of our sleep. If we take medications to treat any conditions we may have developed, these medications might also cause poor sleep.

To make sleeping even more difficult, we tend to worry more as we age. Did you pay rent or other bills as a child? Did you have your own child to care for? The answers are more likely to be no than yes. Adults worry about bills, and children, and employment, and a myriad of other life events that keep our minds occupied. This worrying affects how we sleep, and quite often not for the better.

Women age and eventually experience menopause, including hot flashes and altered hormone levels, which can negatively impact sleep. Both men and women have more disrupted sleep as we age, possibly due to getting up to use the restroom, or maybe from one of the ailments that we may have developed along the way. Additionally, as we get older it is believed that we spend less time in deep, restorative sleep.

 

Getting older isn’t always easy, though it does beat the alternative, doesn’t it? There are things we have control over, and things that we can’t control. At least if we’re aware of what’s happening, we can take steps to counteract the negative, and hopefully find ways to improve our sleep and have better sleep hygiene.

Have you noticed you sleep differently as you’ve aged? Do you have any tips to share with others who are aging that want better sleep?






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