Yes, we're moody and tired because we aren't getting enough high quality sleep: what do we do about it?

As I was writing my last post on the issue of how many hours to work a week, I was also reminded about the impact of not getting enough sleep.

As we age there are normal and not so normal changes and challenges with sleep.  According to the National Sleep Foundation people over 50 need as much sleep as when they were younger however there are many issues that can interfere with getting that sleep including...

  • changes in sleep architecture
  • chronic pain
  • bladder issues
  • sleep apnea
  • GI problems
  • and others

I like to say sleep is more of a 'hard' problem than the one of how many hours to work a week.  I think most of us are a bit more flexible when it comes to gritting it out on the work front when we have to, as long as we don't do a grueling pace too long or too often.  For example, the Japanese are the ultimate workaholics and people literally work themselves to death.  Not good, but a topic for another day as many of us are engaging in a slow, systematic form of workaholism that is very similar.

Sleep, on the other hand, cannot be messed with, without immediate consequences.  We may not feel them, until they become more pronounced, but the lack of our sensitivity to the problems associated with 'not enough high quality sleep' is indicative of how out of touch with our physical selves most of us are.  This lack of consciousness is worsened by the way society 'does life' today.  Again, it's our unhealthy slaving to the machines and how we treat our bodies too much like them.

So if you are snapping at others or finding yourself not having energy during periods of your day, look first to your sleep habits. Don't beat yourself up, just work at decompressing earlier in your evening, then go to bed sooner so you can get to sleep and stay in bed longer.  If you are struggling with getting to sleep and staying asleep, talk to your most trusted doctor.  There are a few of us too who are over sleeping but that is not the norm these days.  

Like most things in life, we thrive in the balance, so if you are the typical adult, you must get 7-9 hours of sleep every night or you will suffer.  Too much or too little is not healthy.

There is much you can learn about what happens when you don't sleep optimally and how to improve your sleep habits.

Here are a couple of other sleep resources to get you started:

Harvard Medical School

CDC - Centers for Disease Control