POSITIVELY 50+

How to get better sleep

Aug 2, 2023, 12:38 PM

Would you believe the average adult will spend a third of their lives, more than 9,000 days, asleep. But the quality of the other 60%, those waking hours, is greatly affected by the time spent sleeping.

But getting to sleep can be a struggle for anyone.

Add snoring to the mix and it can make any married couple question those vows…for better or worse.

“It’s like zzzzzz… I just fall asleep.”

Jerry Miller is out before his head hits the pillow. But it wasn’t always that way. Jerry’s wife Koshell knows better than anyone.

“He’ll snore, snore, snore and then all of the sudden it’ll get soft. And then he holds his breath and then all of the sudden it’ll just rush out.”

The slight annoyance became a serious concern for his wife when Jerry’s health and well-being were called into question.

“It was part of my life that I would wake up with a headache and I would be drowsy in the afternoon and I just considered that normal.”

Eventually, he found out he had what millions of American men over the age of 50 suffer with every night; obstructive sleep apnea. Rich Schoenfeld works in polysomnography as a registered sleep technician. He says that anyone can see the effects of not getting enough sleep as we age.

“Sleep apnea can contribute to heart disease, elevated stroke risk, depression, Type 2 diabetes…” Rick said. And the list goes on.

Left untreated, Rich says sleep apnea can cause major disruptions to those all too important sleep cycles of light, deep and REM sleep — patterns that all adults should get within that 7-8 hour window every night. So what happens when we got older?

“We often see a very decreased amount of deep sleep; little or none. And we often see a decreased amount of REM sleep; little or none.”

Thankfully, Rick said there are easy things to do to turn it around.

  • First, limit screen time, especially just before going to bed.
  • Second, keep your bedtime consistent.
  • Third, be careful with the amount of caffeine consumed throughout the day and when.
  • Fourth, write in a sleep journal to monitor and identify bad and good behavior that affects sleep.

You should also talk to your doctor to see if something like a CPAP machine can help you overcome sleep apnea. Jerry told me that through trial and error, he finally found the “nose pillow” CPAP that works very well for him. And he said he kind of likes that it makes him look like a fighter pilot — just without the roar from the snore.

“The snoring has gone away because of the CPAP, too,” Koshell said.

Rich believes that “if we could perfect sleep, it could be our fountain of youth.” But it starts with identifying what we can do to get better sleep first.

Find more information about Rich Schoenfeld at yoursleepsucks.com

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How to get better sleep