Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sleep or Lack of

Senior citizens have sleep problems, or so we have been lead to believe.  Seniors need more sleep and take more naps.  Just ask anyone.  Older people complain more about sleep problems, not because they sleep poorly but complaints are a natural habit of seniors.  The reality is that sleep disorders affect all ages for a variety of reasons. 
First of all let me inform you of my credentials: I am not a doctor, therapist or specialist of any sort.  But I did sleep in a Holiday Inn once so I feel smarter (and rested).  If you think you have a sleep disorder please contact your physician before you nod off.  Now that I’ve gotten my legal obligation out of the way I can rant on to my pleasure.
Sleep problems are not related to age.  Sleep disorders can be caused by any number of factors or combination of reasons.  Chronic diseases, sleep apnea, depression, neurological conditions, pain, prescription medications, stress, alcohol (no more night caps!), poor sleep hygiene, sedentary lifestyle, stimulants (caffeine and soda), nighttime urination and Alzheimer’s disease are a few causes listed in an article from the NIH.  Some of these causes are age linked, but many are not.  The same article lists four main types of sleep disorders: difficulty of getting to sleep, difficulty of telling the difference between night and day, early morning wakening and waking up often during the night.
Poor sleep hygiene means no TV, food or dogs in bed.  Professionals suggest that we keep the nighttime temperature a little on the cool side and save the bed for two purposes only: sleep and sex.  I am not going to list other suggested tips on how to sleep better in this blog but give you a link to one list from Mama's Health .
Sleep pattern interruptions can cause a myriad of problems that affect the quality of life.  In addition to feeling tired the next day pain problems can be increased, causing even more loss of sleep. Suffers can experience reduced ability to concentrate or solve problems; depression and memory loss are a few problems that can be caused or exasperated by sleep disorders. 
Ruby catching ZZZ's
During my sleep research (not research while sleeping) I learned more about changes in my own sleep habits and the underling scientific concepts about them.  There is a link between exercise and sleep.  During the past year I have been exercising 3 or 4 times a week and my sleep seems to be more continuous and quicker.  Exercise alleviates the problem of the sedentary lifestyle as a cause of sleep problems.  I wake early after eight and a half hours of almost solid sleep.  I do get up once due to pain in my hands; while I'm up I urinate and a let the dog out (that problem again), but go right back to sleep. 
Advance sleep phase syndrome or phase advance is a natural condition I learned about through my research, look that mouthful up.  It is the change in the internal clock that occurs as we age.  A form of a biological daylight savings time: go to bed earlier and wake earlier but still sleep eight hours.  Who messed with my clock?  I no longer stay up to watch the late night talk shows.  I like the late shows but my internal clock is off kilter.  This is probably related to SAD (Season Affective Disorder), a disorder caused by the lack of sunlight during the winter, inhabitants of the Arctic region and night-owls.  But more likely it is just a wild, unscientific statement caused by the lack of late-night humor.  Before long I’ll be getting up before sunrise and spending an hour or two writing.  A good thing, if I don’ bother my wife or dog.  But with my luck I’ll be going to sleep before the 10 pm news because of phase advance and miss even more.
Many of us have heard of REM sleep and non-REM sleep.  The REM (rapid eye movement) sleep commonly thought of the deep sleep cycle associated with dreams.  Now researchers think that we dream throughout the night.  REM dreams are more involved and actually seem like stories; non-REM dreams are more like very short stories, quick thoughts associated with minor issues or problems of the day.  Holy cow, I am dreaming all night in place of the laughing at the late night shows.

I’d better finish this blog before I fall asleep. 

KISS:  Knowledge is Sleep’s Sandman.

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1 comment:

  1. Great post Dad. I love the picture of Ruby sleeping.

    I was looking at the Tips for Getting A Better Night Sleep cause I have been having a very hard time getting up in the morning during the week. But, I already do most of those tips! Maybe my internal clock is changing?

    The good thing is I don't have a sleep disorder. I love to sleep and nap!