Even with good "sleep hygiene" - no coffee after 3 p.m., a quiet, darkened bedroom (which includes not falling asleep with the TV on) and a reasonable bedtime - many Boomers still feel endlessly tired.
- Going non-stop & at full speed right up to bedtime
When your day doesn't stop until you're in bed and turning off the light, there's no way you're going to get a good night's sleep. Many people go to bed without first slowing down which releases physical and mental tensions.
What to do: An hour before bedtime, treat yourself like a baby: a warm bath, followed by a quiet activity in dim light such as meditation, journal writing or reading. But no reading or writing on your computer before bed or in the middle of the night.
- Daily/Regular anxieties
Boss or subordinate troubles, economic realities, sick elders, unwelcoming job market and even global terrorism, concerns about our children’s future...we have a ton of things that worry us, and they don't magically disappear at bed time.
What to do: Find meditative/uplifting conduits that you enjoy, whether it's soothing music, 30 minutes of meditation, or an uplifting TV show, and use them each night to help you move away from your worries, calm down, and clear your head of the day's woes.
- Sleeping with your animal family members
Pets have different circadian rhythms than humans; they sleep most of the day, and they shift a lot when sleeping — they get comfortable, then they move. This goes on all night, and whether you admit it or not, it interrupts your ability to get the level of sleep needed to feel rested.
What to do: For two weeks, put your pooch or cat in a crate outside your closed bedroom door. When your pet can sleep quietly in the crate, move the crate inside your room for another two weeks. When the crate training is complete, try letting the dog or cat sleep in his own bed near your bed.
Discourage all attempts by your pet to jump on your bed and reward all successes for staying in his own bed. (Caveat: Plan on interrupted sleep for a few weeks)
- Exercising too close to bedtime
Heavy exercise too close to bedtime raises your core body temperature so your sleep is fragmented at best until your body temperature drops to normal, which may take several hours.
What to do: No exercise at least three hours before bedtime so when you lay your head on that pillow, your body temp will be normal.
Speaking of temperature, keep the bedroom temperature between 58 and 65 degrees depending on your tolerance for the ideal sleeping climate. Still too cold for you? Pile on the blankets. Just make sure your head (no stocking cap, please) is exposed to the cooler air to help regulate your body temperature.
- Drinking too much liquid before bed time
When you do, you have to get up and pee frequently. Coffee, tea, and colas are not only diuretics, but also stimulants, and even water can be a problem in great quantities right before bedtime.
What to do: Stop drinking caffeinated drinks after lunch and other liquids at least three hours before bedtime. Peeing at night and aging do not automatically go hand in hand unless you suffer from a prostate issue, sleep apnea or weak pelvic muscles; in those cases, see your doctor for help with the related sleep issues.
You have been officially alerted.