Signs of aging may happen earlier than millennials may think. If you’re a millennial – born between 1981 and 1996 – and you find yourself suddenly awake at 4 a.m. – or unable to fall asleep at all – this could be a sign that the body is beginning to age. The inability to fall asleep – or fall back asleep after waking up – are both forms of insomnia. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can drain your energy, dampen your mood and affect both your work and personal life. A review of published studies called “Sleep and Human Aging” by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found many older individuals don’t have healthy sleep schedules as a result of physiological changes in the body due to aging – which can begin as early as age 30. Insomnia can begin a vicious cycle, according to experts: the older you get, the harder it is for the body to get enough restorative sleep – which in turn can accelerate aging.
Causes of insomnia
Insomnia can last for days or weeks and is typically in response to stress or trauma. In some cases, insomnia can be long-term; lasting for more than a month. When not sleeping makes it difficult to complete day-to-day tasks, talk to a health care provider to understand the root cause and how to address it. Stress and anxiety are common among the millennial generation. More than eight in 10 millennials say they sleep with a smart phone next to the bed – with social media, videos, emails, calendars, games and songs within arm’s reach at all hours of the night. Money and finances are often some of the biggest drivers of stress. Millennials entered the job market in 2008 – peak recession – and likely carry college debt.
Experts recommend adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep can help lower your risk of chronic diseases, support a healthy immune system, improve your mental health, increase performance and focus and help you manage your weight. Preparing for sleep takes more than a skin care routine and brushing your teeth. In order to sleep well at night, you need to set intentional habits throughout the day. Here are some of the top 10 ways to get your best sleep:
- Find healthy coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety are one of the best ways to set yourself up for a better night’s rest, including walking or exercise.
- Cut out caffeine after 3 p.m.
- Stay hydrated and try to eat a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats and proteins.
- After dinner, remove work distractions.
- Turn off the TV and put away your phone at least an hour before bedtime and try reading a book instead.
- Set up your sleep environment: a cooler room will help your body fall asleep, as will a white noise machine or fan. Some people find weighted blankets help them relax.
- Buy a new mattress or pillows to make yourself more comfortable.
- Invest in room-darkening curtains.
- Put fresh sheets on your bed and make it inviting and calm.
- If you’re in need of a snack after dinner, avoid sugar, caffeine or alcohol – all substances that could cause you to have trouble falling asleep. A light snack that’s rich in carbohydrates is best.
More from MIBluesPerspectives:
- Melatonin Overuse on the Rise
- Stress and Aging: What Millennials Should Know
- Five Healthy Habits to Make by Age 35
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