5 Sleep Hacks for the Over 40 Crowd

A good night’s sleep is worth almost any amount of money, especially if it’s been weeks, months, or even years since you’ve slept well. Over-the-counter supplements that promise a good night’s sleep are nearly everywhere, which is clear evidence that this issue affects a significant number of us. 

Research has shown that consistent quality sleep allows our body to heal and recover from the day’s events, protecting against a large number of serious health issues that can occur further down the road. But if you’re in the over 40 crowd, have a stressful lifestyle and a less-than-optimal diet, chances are good that at some point, a lack of sleep will leave you walking around like a zombie, longing for a place to catch a quick nap.

And if you are a female who’s over 45, there’s another factor to consider relating to disrupted sleep and that is the impending onset of menopause. During this period of time, a women’s hormones naturally shift and can often result in night sweats, unfounded worry, and relentless brain chatter during the middle of the night. This trifecta can undermine the stamina and resolve of an otherwise active and mentally acute woman.

A good night’s sleep is everything!

So what can be done about this sleep-deprivation situation? Thankfully, several simple strategies can help you get a good night’s rest and recalibrate your internal circadian rhythm back to normal.

1. Clean up your diet.

What we eat affects our sleep patterns. Diets high in sugar, carbs, and alcohol (especially in the evening) can result in frequent tossing and turning, keeping you from settling into a deep sleep. Blood sugar fluctuations send a signal to the brain that something’s not quite right, which then triggers a domino-like cascade of hormones and other chemical messengers that work hard to get your brain the glucose it needs. It’s during this process that your sleep gets interrupted.

Avoid consuming alcohol within two hours of bedtime (I know, not what you wanted to hear) and make sure you’ve had something for dinner besides just chips and salsa. A protein, healthy fat and fruit or veggie makes for a beautifully balanced meal that can help you drift off to sleep in no time.

2. Try some natural sleep aids

This doesn’t include melatonin or NyQuil. Instead, consider herbs such as valerian, California poppy, kava, and skullcap. These can quiet an overactive mind, relax tense muscles, ease worry from the day and calm an overexcited nervous system. Not all herbal products are alike, so quality is essential in this regard. We recommend (and use) pharmaceutical-grade herbs that are sourced from Australia. Additionally, calming minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and alfalfa can be very effective for helping you drift off to sleep and reduce the number of times you wake up.

3. Boost your sleep hormone

There’s a tiny little gland nestled deep within your brain called the pineal gland. During the day, when it’s bright outside, the pineal gland becomes quiet and waits for the onset of dusk, signaling the end of the day when sleep is eminent. This powerful gland is responsible for releasing its magical hormone, melatonin. But if you are watching TV, reading mindlessly on FB, or reading on your iPad, your pineal gland never gets the signal that it’s dark outside.

To keep your pineal happy and producing plenty of melatonin, turn off all electronics and create a version of ‘dusk’ inside your home about an hour before your normal bedtime. This sends the correct signal for your pineal gland to begin releasing sleepy hormones, inducing that enticing urge to crawl into bed and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

4. Enjoy life

Research has shown that people who are generally happy have higher amounts of another hormone known as oxytocin. Famous for being the “bonding” hormone, it is released when we engage in activities that foster relationships. Things like spending time with friends, belly laughing, playing with our pets, and spending time with our children cultivate a better night’s sleep. So put a smile on your face, hug someone and get that oxytocin flowing!

5. Create a cozy sleep space

Your bedroom should be your own sacred space, free from clutter, exercise equipment, laundry, or even a TV (yep, not conducive for a good night’s sleep). Keep the room at a comfortable temperature, preferably a bit on the cooler side. Use blackout shades to block any drifting light from streetlamps or other ambient light. Disconnect, or better yet, leave all your electronics in another room and be sure to put everything in airplane mode, so nothing disrupts your precious sleep.

Once you find your secret sauce for satisfying sleep, you’ll be snoring away in no time. A good night’s sleep helps your body heal, keeps your hormones on point, and allows your brain plenty of time to defrag and reset. Investing in finding the right combination to help you sleep will pay off huge dividends down the road.

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Dr Don Sharnowski is a doctor who is above and beyond all other doctors! Probably his most outstanding quality is that he LISTENS to what his patients say. He is willing to explain things to his patients in terms they can understand. Dr Don treats his patients with wisdom, understanding, gentleness, care, encouragement and he is willing to "go the extra mile" to give his patients the proper treatment they need. He does not treat patients like they were on an assembly line or like he is rushing them out the door. Dr Don has fixed many of the problems I had at my first visit, one of which I had endured for 3 years. Dr Don was able to fix that problem in 2 weeks when others had not. Dr Don has also helped me loose 40 lbs so far. My total recovery is still an ongoing process, but should be a cinch with Dr Don's expert help! Thank you, Dr Don! You are an awesome answer to prayers!

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Dr Don Sharnowski is truly an amazing Doctor. He listens to his patients and treats in a very complete way. He is very knowledgeable because he never stops learning. He is a great communicator and will help you learn better ways to be healthy if you will actually do what he teaches.

Cassie N.

Don (Dr Sharnowski) is truly one of a kind. He is warm, inviting and incredibly generous with his time, but also really knowledgeable about the body and everything within. You won't find crystal balls here. You'll find a super nice guy in sneakers who also sells farm fresh eggs at the counter. I went in expecting to get adjusted (and was scared, because I'd never seen a chiro before). Instead, what I experienced was someone who actually sat down and listened to my history, connected the dots between several ailments (instead of jumping to prescribe one drug apiece to treat each one), and explained things that no one had ever taken the time to do. I was there about my back specifically, but we talked about my whole health. Instead of just prescribing an anti inflammatory (which is what my other doc did), he explained why we get inflammation in our bodies, and how to help reduce it with what we eat. I've also been on thyroid medication for over 10 years, and he actually explained what the thyroid is, and what the drug I take is, and what it does. But not in a defensive or overly crunchy way. He just openly explained in a way that I could understand it. I highly recommend Don to anyone with a body who wants to feel better. His approach is approachably holistic. Just common sense, whole body-centered treatment.

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