As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it harder and harder to fall and stay asleep. Why is that?
Dr. Abhinav Singh, medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center and a sleep professor at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, likes to answer this question with an analogy. Think of your ability to sleep as though it were a car, he said. As it ages and clocks more miles, it begins to fall apart; it needs more repairs, and its ride becomes less smooth.
The same thing happens with your sleep, Dr. Singh said.
Researchers have found that sleep quality does indeed get a little rusty with age: Older adults are more likely to take longer to fall asleep, wake up more frequently throughout the night and spend more time napping during the day compared with younger adults. They also spend less time in deep, restorative sleep, which helps with bone and muscle growth and repair, strengthens the immune system and helps the brain reorganize and consolidate memories, Dr. Singh said. Your melatonin levels, which play an important role in sleep-wake cycles, also go awry with age, he said. [Read more at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/27/well/live/aging-sleep-insomnia.htm]
Notice how some retired seniors look elderly and have an “old attitude” while others of the same age look twenty years younger and are aging gracefully?
Happy and healthy retirees leave their jobs but stay engaged with life. They take a proactive stance on healthcare, practice preventative care and advocate for themselves. They have a purpose in life., They find a reason to get out of bed in the morning, doing meaningful endeavors, such as volunteering, becoming involved in the community, traveling, learning new things or nurturing grandkids. The goal is to feel useful, valuable, and fulfilled.
It may sound good at the beginning, just hanging out and playing golf with your friends. But if that’s your day in and day out modus vivendi, over time a slow malaise will creep in. It will dawn on you that to have joy and meaning to my life, it will take some unremittingly honest re-thinking about how to deal with the realities of growing older.
The one advantage to advancing age is having perspective, recognizing the life experiences that were essential to your happiness and well-being. It will be such a relief to stop struggling to hold on to the ‘balance sheet’ approach for determining self-esteem and to live in a fashion more closely aligned to who you are at the core.
The process can be cathartic; fresh air will cleanse the soul. Now you can move forward. Now your future is not based on re-writing an idealized version of the past. Now your life is not at the beginning of the end, but at the beginning of authoring many new chapters waiting to be written.
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