Why am I so tired?
Feelings of sleeplessness and fatigue can become more common as we get older, but chiropractor Matthew Hodgson provides some expert tips to ensure you always get a good night’s rest.
For many of us, sleep tends to be lighter, harder to come by and more fragmented in our later years and around 60% of seniors report that they regularly have trouble sleeping. This can be attributed to a natural decrease in the body’s production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, in addition to factors such as pain, chronic illness or frequent urination.
Regular, healthy sleep contributes to overall wellbeing in a number of ways:
- Boosts metabolism and helps to keep excess weight off
- Reduces confusion and cognitive disruption
- Optimises the immune system so that it can fight off colds, flus and other bugs
- Lowers stress levels
- Increases energy
If you’re finding it difficult to fall asleep, try some of the following tips:
- No screens
White light from screens delays the release of melatonin, so turn off the television, computer, iPad or phone at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
- Red light
On the other hand, red light simulates sunset and stimulates melatonin release, so try using a red light bulb or lampshade on your bedside lamp.
- Wear socks
Cold extremities can limit circulation and impact your ability to sleep soundly, so be sure to rug up as the weather gets colder.
- Almond butter
Mix up a knob of butter and some ground almonds and have a small amount on a biscuit before bedtime. The B vitamins and magnesium in the almonds help with sleep and the fats in the butter will help to regulate blood sugars.
- Light exercise
Exercising for 10 minutes in the morning before breakfast will speed up your metabolism throughout the day and help you go to sleep at night.
- Lavender oil
Try some aromatherapy by dabbing a little oil on your pressure points or spraying some on your pillow.
- Listen to relaxing music
Many seniors find ocean sounds or whale noises to be incredibly soothing and there are plenty of great apps available that will play gentle sounds as you fall asleep (try Relax Melodies or White Noise)
- Take a warm bath or shower before bed
Warm water relaxes your muscles and increases your body temperature – the resulting drop should induce a deep sleep.
- Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is a tried and tested sleep aid with its anti-inflammatory and sedative properties.
- Visit your local chiropractor
Regular chiropractor visits will help to decrease your stress hormones and the spinal adjustment will help to relax your muscles and promote proper nose breathing. Your chiropractor can also provide breathing exercises and recommendations for any diet or lifestyle changes that may help your situation.
If you still have trouble sleeping after about 15 minutes, don’t just lie in bed counting sheep! Try writing a journal entry, doing a crossword puzzle or performing some gentle stretches until you feel more tired.
While it may be frustrating to put so much effort into an activity that once came naturally, your body will eventually respond to routine (just like your kids did!) Keep committing to your nightly habits and don’t hesitate to contact your GP if the problem persists.
Dr Matthew Hodgson is a chiropractor at Platinum Chiropractic in Erina with a specific focus on the wellbeing of senior patients. You can contact him on (02) 4365 5055 or email email@example.com.