Why can’t I sleep like a baby anymore?
It’s 4 am, I can’t sleep! Do you want to know why?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), well over a third of American adults sleep less than the recommended 7 hours per night. One reason is that most of us don’t prioritize rest. We don’t make room in our busy schedule for those necessary 7 to 9 hours of sleep required for a healthy brain and body. The second reason is that even when we do our best to sleep, things don’t always go as planned and we don’t sleep well.
As we age, it becomes more and more difficult to get a good night sleep. Some say it’s because we need less sleep as we grow older. But studies don’t back up that theory. What science shows though, is that the healthier we are, the better we sleep. And vice et versa. Keep that in mind!
Science also shows that with age, it gets physically harder to fall and stay asleep, and what that means on a daily basis, is that the nuisances that didn’t affect us before, are now sufficient to completely ruin our nights. And this is what I would like to focus on in this article.
“Harmless” acts will now wreck your sleep
Do you know why I am awake right now? Yesterday, I had a late afternoon meeting in downtown Seattle. I rode my bike there and back. It’s hilly, I came home hungry, and right on time for dinner. I had prepared chicken curry and my superman husband cooked quinoa to go with it. Pretty neat, right? Usually, I do half chicken/half tofu when I make that dish. I will give you the recipe one day, it’s super easy and very yummy! Anyway, I forgot the tofu yesterday, so I had to satisfy my hunger with chicken only. I ate 3 or 4 oz of chicken. I know that meat for dinner does not suit me well, but I thought: I just worked out, it’s just chicken, it’s only one serving… And here we go! 3:30 am, my brain is all over the place, my body is sweating, and I am up and writing!!!
That’s what meat does to me now, cheese does the same, wine also. Back just 2 or 3 years ago, none of those things affected my sleep. But now, they do.
We all know about coffee. But it’s not just coffee! There is tea, of course, caffeinated beverages (yes, sodas too!), and alcohol. Not only because they are stimulant and will keep you from falling asleep, but also because they make you urinate more. So around 3 or 4 am, you will want to pee, AND you will be thirsty. Fatty foods, foods that are harder to digest, such as meat, cheese, or deep-fried foods, might start giving you trouble too. Try to avoid them at night and keep your dinner centered around plants (veggies, beans, non-processed grain, fruits) and super lean protein (fish, tofu, maybe a boiled egg).
How bad (or well!) do you want to sleep?
What I want to tell you here is that with the years, what we used to get away with might actually become an issue. So if you are having trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, or if you don’t feel rested when you wake up in the morning, it is worth listing what you eat, drink, and do during the day, in order to find out what might be the culprit of such poor sleep. Maybe it’s not the food you eat. Maybe it’s your workout, or the TV show you watch at night, or that habit that you have to quickly check emails before falling asleep.
Look at everything you are doing and be ready to question your most cherished routines if you really want to sleep well. I used to eat a square (or 2!) of chocolate every night before bedtime. My way of closing the day and take care of myself. This lovely habit had to go! Although I keep trying once in a while, just in case… 🙂
25 Tips to Sleep Well
I won’t abandon you just like that, dealing all alone with your worst nightmares. I have put together a list of 25 Tips for Better Sleep (and a bonus!) that I will give you as a thank you gift when you sign up for my mailing list. Those strategies will help you increase the duration and quality of your sleep. You will be able to download the list and experiment with it. I hope you will sleep better as you start working on this!
None of my content, articles, services or programs are intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illness or disease. The information provided in my services, programs, and classes is not intended to take the place of advice from your medical professional, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.