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How to Sleep Like a Baby into Adulthood

By Martha Michael

A Healthy Night's Rest

When you were a kid it was simple. It was “lights out,” your head hit the pillow and the next thing you knew, your eyelids were rising with the sun.

But at some point, deep sleep wasn’t something you could count on. It may have started when you had young kids who were up in the middle of the night. Then it was a sore back or other aches and pains that caused you to wake without feeling fully rested.

Sleep and Your Health

An article in Everyday Health explains that sometimes it’s a health issue that interrupts your sleep. Some of the most prevalent conditions that disrupt sleep are:

  • Depression
  • Menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Asthma
  • Heartburn
  • Eating disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease

If you have chronic problems getting enough rest, you may have a sleep disorder, according to mental health website HelpGuide.com.

You often see signs of a sleep disorder during the day, including irritability, difficulty concentrating and struggling to control your emotions. And if you find yourself reaching for caffeine more and more, it’s worth paying attention because you may not be sleeping soundly at night.

If you’re struggling to function during the day, you can try self-help measures to see if you can improve your sleep patterns and reduce symptoms. But if you’re unsuccessful and symptoms continue, contact a sleep center, a medical professional, or you may benefit by participating in a study.

Normal Sleep Deprivation

We spend approximately one-third of our lives in bed, so it’s pretty important that we maximize that experience where our health is concerned. For one thing, your mattress should be replaced every 10 years.

Even for a relatively healthy individual there are reasons for interrupted sleep, according to studies by the Sleep Foundation. Researchers looked at demographics and matched people groups with sleep patterns.

The findings show that those with the most successful sleep tend to be younger, married or have a partner, and they work full-time. These individuals often consider themselves “morning people.”

More than any other groups of individuals, healthy seniors get the greatest quantity of sleep. In addition to an average of two naps a week and 7.3 hours of sleep per night, they almost never feel fatigued. Most of them are retired and two-thirds are women.

People with the longest work week sleep less than the others but they take more naps. They tend to think they get enough sleep, even though they’re up prowling a lot, sometimes due to bouts of insomnia. This group is made up of mostly men who drink a lot of caffeine, and half of them would be categorized as obese.

Maximize Your Sleep

Aside from sleep interruptions due to health issues, there are helpful practices to foster better sleep beginning with your decorating style.

The look of your bedroom is more important than you think. You can increase your chance of successful sleep using color, sound and mattress quality. A blog on AlaskaSleep.com has a list of suggestions to maximize your ability to slumber.

When you pick your paint color, your choice can serve to promote better sleep or distract from it. Blue, green and yellow are the most calming colors according to researchers in the U.K. They found that participants gained the most sleep -- an average of 7 hours 52 minutes per night -- when the walls were painted blue.

By contrast, if you choose purple, grey or brown your sleep numbers may go down. “Artistic” colors stimulate your mind rather than settle it, they concluded. Whichever palette you choose, make sure it’s a flat paint or eggshell because you want to avoid shinier paints that reflect light.

Another way to limit distractions is to clean your room. It may seem obvious but keeping a TV or computer in your bedroom keeps you engaged in wakefulness. You often associate electronics with work, which doesn’t contribute to restfulness. And televisions emit blue light, which slows production of melatonin, the chemical causing you to fall asleep.

Room darkening measures will enhance your ability to sleep, so if your nights are disrupted, try a dimmer switch on your light fixtures or install blackout curtains. And if you need to catch 40 winks during the day, wear a sleep mask to seal the deal.

Your mattress can make a difference as well, so it’s worth the investment to choose the one that is most comfortable and provides proper support of your back and neck. Developing chronic pain definitely won’t help you sleep. And yes, mattresses are like pillows and do wear out.

As an adult, you can contribute to your overall health by making changes that have an effect on your sleep patterns. The number of sheep you count doesn’t have to account for the entire flock.

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