Are You Having a Sleep Crisis?
Getting regular, restful sleep is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Inadequate sleep has been connected with everything from depression to decreased alertness, and recent research at the University of Chicago indicates that it may adversely affect your metabolism. And that, the experts say, can lead to weight gain and even diabetes.
People in every age group know about the usual reasons for insomnia – too much stress, too much caffeine. But insomnia is more common among older people for a number of age-specific reasons as well. You may wake up in the middle of the night because you’re now more sensitive to noise, or you might be more inactive than you used to be and so are not tired enough to sleep well. Taking a daily nap may also be a factor. And you can be kept awake by medicines for conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, allergies, asthma, pain and depression.
But whatever the cause of your insomnia, it’s fairly easy to figure out whether you’re in the midst of a sleep crisis. If your sleeplessness isn’t connected to a specific stressful event, if it’s gone on for a few weeks, or if it’s interfering with your daily life, it’s time to go to the doctor. The nonprofit National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests keeping a record of your sleep and fatigue patterns to bring to your health care practitioner. Make sure your physician has an up-to-date list of all the medicines, vitamins, herbs and supplements you’re taking. If you feel your case is severe enough, you might want to consider a sleep specialist who can talk to you in depth about the problem – and even observe you overnight in a sleep center if necessary.