Sleep Sucks at 50!
By Dr. Bijoy E. John, MD, founder of Sleep Wellness Clinics of America and Sleep Fix Academy

Both in men and especially in women, sleep is very nuanced around age 50 for many reasons. It continues to get worse as we age and by 70, sleep quality goes from bad to worse.

The brain begins to shrink and there is decreased production of somnogenic (sleep inducing) hormones and increased nighttime awakenings from many causes. The decreased production of testosterone in men and estrogen in women around this age predisposes to sleep disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea. (OSA)

Perimenopausal women tend to gain an average of 7 pounds, thus contributing to sleep apnea.

Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring, stopping breathing at night, and feeling tired during the day. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please discuss with your primary care physician or consult a sleep specialist to address sleep apnea ASAP.

Sleep apnea can cause significant sleep disruptions and can impact various body functions. It can contribute to uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes and be a cause of cognitive decline. OSA could be one of the causes of low libido.

Older adults tend to sleep earlier and are vulnerable to advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS). This is a condition where you go to bed early (7 or 8 pm) and wake up in the middle of the night (2 or 3 am) with extreme difficulty going back to sleep. Loneliness, boredom, lack of routine and lack of exposure to sunlight are all contributing factors.

Poor sleep can also worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can worsen sleep quality thus creating a vicious cycle.

Many medical problems like congestive heart failure, emphysema (COPD), acid reflux, and chronic pain can significantly impact the quality of sleep and cause nighttime awakenings.

First and foremost, I recommend addressing all the above-mentioned medical and psychological issues.

If you're still suffering from insomnia, all is not lost. There is hope!

Here are my 7 proven SLEEP NOW strategies:

S- Have a fixed sleep schedule. I recommend sleeping between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM.

L- Make sure your bedroom has Low light (dark as possible), Low noise and Low temperature (65-70 degrees).

E- Say no to electronics at least 30 minutes prior to going to sleep.

E- Stop exercising at least four hours prior to going to sleep.

P- Power off your mind (Practice vivid imagination and yoga Nidra)

No- No to worries. Take time to worry between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM. Do not worry in bed.

W- Win by losing yourself and easing into sleep.

Sleep is an art, it’s a dimmer, not an on and off switch (like we wish).

Remember the bedroom is for SEX and SLEEPING, not for snoring or worrying.


About the Author
Dr. Bijoy E. John, MD, is a board-certified physician and practicing sleep specialist currently in private practice with over 25 years of experience in Pulmonary/Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.  Dr. John is the founder and medical director of Sleep Wellness Clinics of America (Nashville) and Sleep Fix Academy and serves as an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine. He is the author of the new book, Nobody's Sleeping: 7 Proven Sleep Strategies for Better Health and Happiness (Morgan James Publishing).


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