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  • Cameron Oglesby

Having trouble getting back to sleep at night?

The problem isn’t waking up in the middle of the night; cycling out of sleep every two hours or so is normal. The real problem is not being able to go back to sleep again.

With no two people alike, hours-long sleep interruptions can have almost as many causes as there are people – anything from a late-day adult beverage to an evening workout at the gym, a midnight raid on the fridge, a snoring spouse or yapping pet, or anxiety over a troublesome problem before bedtime.

If all those environmental causes aren’t enough, there are also plenty of physiological ones: obstructive sleep apnea, leg jerks, iron deficiency, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, pain, allergies, asthma, hormonal changes, depression and some medicines’ side effects.

For many of the physiological causes, some blood tests and doctor visits could help.

And for the environmental causes, there’s a lot you can do to help yourself:

· Move your exercise time from the evening to no later than late afternoon.

· Don’t eat or drink too late.

· Hash out those problems no later than very early evening.

· Keep noisy pets out of your bedroom at night.

Probably the best thing you could do would be to reset your biological clock.

Light and darkness trigger different phases of your body’s circadian cycle. Sunlight (and most kinds of artificial light) tells your body it’s daytime, which means time to turn off hormones that help you sleep.

One is vasopressin, an antidiuretic that keeps your body hydrated at night and reduces the need for bathroom breaks. Another is melatonin, which eases you into a natural sleep cycle.

It also means time to trigger other hormones that can keep you awake – cortisol and ACTH, for example.

Melatonin takes two to three hours to lull you into sleep, so if you have plenty of light around you from, say, 7 to 8 PM, you’ll be ready for natural bedtime between 10 and 11.

When you wake up at night, certain forms of artificial light – from your bedside lamp, phone screen, computer or television – can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime and keep you awake for hours. So you should strive for total darkness, or as close to it as you can get. If you have a bedside digital clock, get one with a red, not blue, display. If you need night lights for safety, they should be just bright enough to see by, and closer to the red (long-wavelength) end of the spectrum than to blues and yellows. Those shorter-wavelength colors of light suppress your body’s ability to synthesize and secrete melatonin, so you’ll stay awake as a result.

People are even more different from each other when they’re awake than when they’re sleeping. They have different priorities, different values, different emotional and social lives, different schedules, different hobbies and interests. So when the time comes for senior care, it makes good sense to find an agency that concentrates on those differences instead of just on physical and medical conditions.

That’s why Senior Insights never offers off-the-rack, one-size-fits-all care plans. Instead, our holistic, coordinated senior care management plans are custom-designed for each individual client – only after a thorough three-part needs assessment involving the clients and their families, and covering state of health, state of mind, state of family and social relationships and overall lifestyle. So clients receive the specific care they need while avoiding the waste of money and independence that often comes with care they don’t need.

If finding the right kind of senior care is keeping you awake nights, please contact us.

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