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Saturday, June 22, 2024

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HomeThe Weekly ResetThe Weekly ResetWhy it Pays to Invest in Good Quality Sleep as You Age

Why it Pays to Invest in Good Quality Sleep as You Age

This post is a duplication of our newsletter, The Weekly Reset, where we review a key theme each week. In the spotlight this week: Why it pays to invest in good quality sleep as you age. Do you get enough sleep?

A note from Johann

There is good news about sleep problems

In our retirement years, all kinds of sleep problems can start emerging. From insomnia to the snoring of sleep apnea and the anxiety of feeling unrested in the morning, older people have to contend with an often troubling focus on their sleep.

Dr Alison Bentley, a renowned sleep expert, has reassured us that much of what we thought we simply have to accept, are in fact treatable problems. She has pointed out that poor management of a troubling situation often makes the problem worse. She gives the example of insomnia, which can be caused in part because a patient retires to bed too early and then worries when waking up in the middle of the night – being a problem that can be addressed. Her advice is to calculate what time you want to wake up in the morning and then work back seven or eight hours to set a time to go to bed. It inevitably means going to bed later, but this will result in a more satisfying sense of rest and sound sleep.

Dr Bentley also says that instead of trying to fit into the sleep routines of a particular institution or some kind of independent routine, you should wait until you feel sleepy before going to bed. This will increase the likelihood of having a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is such an integral part of our daily lives that it is most important not to have misgivings or wrong beliefs about it. There are now sleep clinics in several centres and sleep experts in a number of general medical practices.

Several associated problems happen as a result of a sleeping problem. These can be, for example, ‘restless leg syndrome’ which causes your legs to keep on moving and unnecessarily waking during the night. Mouth breathing, which creates the discomfort of a dry mouth, is also a problem often encountered. Breathing mostly through the nose causes the benefit of proper air filtration and clean, well purified air to enter the lungs.

Such relatively minor positive sleeping habits can be addressed by yourself, or, if there is a deeper problem, a sleep expert can be consulted.


Our top pick this week:

Sleep hygiene

Paying attention to sleep hygiene is one of the most straightforward ways that you can set yourself up for better sleep.

Strong sleep hygiene means having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and building healthy habits during the day can all contribute to ideal sleep hygiene.

Every sleeper can tailor their sleep hygiene practices to suit their needs. In the process, you can harness positive habits to make it easier to sleep soundly throughout the night and wake up well-rested.

How Do You Practice Good Sleep Hygiene?

Good sleep hygiene is all about putting yourself in the best position to sleep well each and every night.

Set Your Sleep Schedule

Having a set schedule normalizes sleep as an essential part of your day and gets your brain and body accustomed to getting the full amount of sleep that you need.

Have a Fixed Wake-Up Time: (T)ry to wake up at the same time…
Prioritize Sleep: (T)reat sleep as a priority. Calculate a target bedtime based on your fixed wake-up time and do your best to be ready for bed around that time each night.
Make Gradual Adjustments: If you want to shift your sleep times, don’t try to do it all in one fell swoop…
Don’t Overdo It With Naps:(T)ry to keep naps relatively short and limited to the early afternoon.

Follow a Nightly Routine

A pre-sleep playbook including some of these tips can put you at ease and make it easier to get to fall asleep when you want to.

Keep Your Routine Consistent: Following the same steps each night,…, can reinforce in your mind that it’s bedtime.
Budget 30 Minutes For Winding Down: Take advantage of whatever puts you in a state of calm…
Dim Your Lights: Try to keep away from bright lights because they can hinder the production of melatonin…
Unplug From Electronics: Build in a 30-60 minute pre-bed buffer time that is device-free…
Test Methods of Relaxation: Meditation, mindfulness, paced breathing, and other relaxation techniques can put you in the right mindset for bed.
Don’t Toss and Turn: (I)f after 20 minutes you haven’t gotten to sleep, get up and stretch, read, or do something else calming in low light before trying to fall asleep again.

Cultivate Healthy Daily Habits

Incorporating positive routines during the day can support your circadian rhythm and limit sleep disruptions.

Get Daylight Exposure: (S)unlight, is one of the key drivers of circadian rhythms that can encourage quality sleep.
Be Physically Active: Regular exercise can make it easier to sleep at night…
Don’t Smoke: Nicotine stimulates the body in ways that disrupt sleep…
Reduce Alcohol Consumption: (M)oderate alcohol consumption and avoid it later in the evening.
Cut Down on Caffeine in the Afternoon and Evening: (C)affeine can keep you wired even when you want to rest, so try to avoid it later in the day.
Don’t Dine Late: (A)any food or snacks before bed should be on the lighter side.
Restrict In-Bed Activity: To build a link in your mind between sleep and being in bed, it’s best to only use your bed only for sleep with sex being the one exception.

Optimize Your Bedroom

A central component of sleep hygiene beyond just habits is your sleep environment.

Have a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow: (C)hoose the best mattress for your needs and preferences, not to mention your pillow wisely.
Use Excellent Bedding: The sheets and blankets are the first thing you touch when you get into bed…
Set a Cool Yet Comfortable Temperature: Fine-tune your bedroom temperature to suit your preferences, but err on the cooler side…
Block Out Light: (P)revent light from interrupting your sleep.
Drown Out Noise: (Y)ou can try a white noise machine or even a fan to drown out bothersome sounds.
Try Calming Scents: Light smells … may induce a calmer state of mind and help cultivate a positive space for sleep.

Is Sleep Hygiene the Same For Everyone?

The basic concept of sleep hygiene — that your environment and habits can be optimized for better sleep — applies to just about everyone, but what ideal sleep hygiene looks like can vary based on the person.

Click here to read the whole article on Sleep Foundation

Our Spotlight video:

Why it Pays to Invest in Good Quality Sleep as You Age

Spotlight of the week

Other Highlights of The Week:

Aging and Sleep: Making Changes for Brain Health

Planning to live your life your way

Clock with elderly sleeping in the background
Image as used in Harvard Health

As I have gotten older, I have personally come to appreciate the restorative power of a good night’s sleep for thinking, memory, and functioning at my best.

Sleep affects our overall health, including our hormones and immune system. Neurobiological processes that occur during sleep have a profound impact on brain health, and as a result, they influence mood, energy level, and cognitive fitness. Numerous studies have shown that structural and physiological changes that occur in the brain during sleep affect capacity for new learning, as well as the strength of memories formed during the day. Sleep promotes the consolidation of experiences and ideas; it plays a pivotal role in memory, and has been shown to enhance attention, problem solving, and creativity.

Specific sleep stages are associated with different types of learning

“Over the course of each night sleep unfolds in five different cycles which alternate throughout the night. These include rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM stages. REM is the stage when dreaming occurs. This stage of sleep is associated with active eye movements and body paralysis, which assures that a sleeping person is protected from acting out the dream. During REM there is increased activity in limbic structures involved in memory and emotional regulation, whereas there is less activity in frontal brain systems involved in analytic thinking. Fragments of events and memories experienced during the day may be combined in novel and often bizarre ways during REM-based dreaming. REM plays a pivotal role in memory and other cognitive functions.”

Click here
to read the article on Harvard Health

Weekly Poll

This week’s poll: Where are you on building your legacy?
Option A: I’m too busy to worry about my legacy.
Option B: I think about my legacy but that’s about it.
Option C: I have a plan to build my legacy that I will get to eventually…
Option D: I’m building my legacy daily and making good progress.

Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group

Last week’s poll and finding: Are you getting enough sleep?
Option A: My sleep is restless – 50%
Option B: I’m getting less sleep as I get older – 15%
Option C: I have always slept well – 35%

Circular percentage graph depicting the results of the poll answers
Percentage graph of the results

Most Popular Post of The Week

Sleep is your superpower

Click here to watch the full video on TED

Most Popular Quote of The Week

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.

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"It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it." - John Steinbeck
Quote by John Steinbeck

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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.