Getting a good night's sleep is no easy feat. With hectic schedules, a lack of work-life balance, and an oversaturation of blue light due to excessive screen time, so much is competing against your chance at some quality shut-eye. But it turns out it's not only these external factors keeping you from catching some z's. As New York Magazine's Science of Us recently explored, unavoidable changes in your body that come with getting older could be making your sleep permanently worse.
The article references Mark Barna's recent post on Discover magazine's blog, where he writes, "According to a recently published review called Sleep and Human Aging by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, many older people have unhealthful sleep due to age-related physiological changes. These changes can begin as early as the 30s." What exactly is at work? Barna explains that with aging, "neurochemicals that switch us from sleep to wakefulness are drying up. This contributes to grogginess during the day and a maddening alertness at night."
Perhaps the most disheartening part about this finding is that there little that can be done about any of it. However, Barna does suggest a few strategies improve your chances of a better night's sleep. As he tells Science of Us, the most important thing is to not go to bed too early. If when you go to bed you just can't fall asleep, you should read or do another restful (non-digital) activity instead until you're finally lulled into slumber. It also helps to wake up at the same time every day, despite your changing schedule, and to get 30 minutes of sunlight right after you wake up to set your circadian clock.