Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aging and Sleeping ... Or Not

It seems that we notice changes around our decade birthdays. For many, eyes change around the age of forty. I know mine did; I had finally tried contact lenses with the prescription that I had used for several years. It was a short experiment because I found that I had trouble reading with them. You see, my eyes had alterred enough to require bifocals. A decade later, at fifty, give or take, I noticed my energy levels dropping. As a teacher, I'd sit at my desk in the evenings to mark papers or plan lessons, and it would be a slog.

Now that I am in my early sixties, I can report that another change is occurring and has been for several years now. Sleep. Or lack of it.

While I've often had trouble falling asleep, I usually hadn't had much difficulty in staying asleep. But in the past few years that has shifted. Depending on the night, I might go to bed at midnight, and I might even fall asleep soon after on some nights. But I now seem to be waking up fairly early (for me, in my historical context). I might awaken anywhere from about 5:30 to 7:30 in the morning but most likely about halfway between those two extremes. If I had fallen asleep around midnight, that's usually close to enough sleep for me — but only close and not quite enough. However, if my sleep gets truncated at both ends, say 1:30 to 5:30, it's not good. I require more sleep than that. But what I require and what I get can be very different. It can be quite frustrating.

At an almost identical age, getting enough sleep is also Cuppa's problem, but in her case it isn't lack of sleep. As her body changes, she requires more and more slumber. She seems to need and usually obtain about ten hours, and even then, she might feel completely drained by supper time. If she must remain perky in the evening for some reason, she will drink coffee in copious quantities and still fall blissfully asleep and remain that way for many, many blissful hours.

Oddly enough, she has typically been the more energetic person in this couple with more stamina than me. Yet here we are — with opposite sides of the same vexing problem. Neither of us can get enough sleep.

So, beware younguns; changes await. Unless you are of a very different constitution, I am almost willing to wager that you will notice at least some changes in the very areas that I have mentioned.

18 comments:

jinksy said...

4am is my bete noir...If I wake up then, the night is as good as over! Thank goodness I no longer have to go to work! And sometimes that's after not going to sleep before 1.30 - 2.00..... it's a hard, hard life! Can you bottle whatever Cuppa has in her DNA?

karla said...

This youngun has duly noted the probability of changes. I can most certainly say that it is only recently where I drink a cup of coffee and am up all night, where only a year or so ago, I could drink a pot and fall right back asleep.

Donna said...

Right Now, I'm waking up at 3am...frustrating!!hughugs

Janet said...

I wake up a lot too, but not of my own volition. :)
If my grandparents' experience is any indication, in another 20 years you'll only need 4-5 hours of sleep a night. Then at about 92 it changed again to about 8 hours.

Amanda said...

I'll be 32 in a couple of weeks time ~ looks like i have lots to look forward too!! lol!

Mary said...

AC,

I too have noticed these subtle changes over the years. I wear bifocals and have since I was 50. I find it hard to fall asleep at night, but usually when I do, I sleep until the early hours of the morning, at which time I'm in need of the facilities. (Another thing that comes with aging...more trips to the bathroom.)

Like Cuppa, I need about 8 or 9 hours of sleep, which I don't often get. I hope there are no extreme changes in my sleep patterns when I turn 60. I'm barely coping now. And these, my friend, are the Golden Year.

Blessings,
Mary

KGMom said...

As they say--youth is wasted on the young.
Or as an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying goes:
We grow too soon old
And too late smart.

Garnetrose said...

I am in my early sixties and I fall asleep about two. I was always a night person but not this late at night. I would drift off about midnight. Now If I lay down at ten I am still there staring at the clock at 2 in the morning. Now I fall asleep then get up about three hours later and do a few things then fall back asleep again. I used to worry about getting up early but now that I am retired, I figure who cares whin I get up but it is usually at nine a.m.

ChrisB said...

My sleep pattern has changed dramatically in the past couple of years(since retirement). I rarely go to sleep before midnight and on the rare occasions I get 4-5 hours without waking up. Usually I wake up every couple of hours and often wake up feeling exhausted come morning. However once I get up and have coffee I'm fine.

Susan said...

RE: Vision changes/contact lenses...
Have you tried multifocal-contact lenses? They are much better than regular contacts and bifocals as they enable you to see near, far and everywhere in between.

Check out www.goodbyereaders.com for more information.

Susan,
"See a New You" team

Hokule'a Kealoha said...

I am always teasing younger people that I am a "woman of a certain age, and this (usually forgetfullness) is what you have to look forward to...a good laugh is had by all. Love your blog

Mary G said...

Glad to find I am not the only one -- I vary between your mode and Cuppa's.
Yawn.

Cathy said...

This is very timely. I sat with an older gal in the tire shop and the book she was reading was about Melatonin. She said it gives her a good night's rest.

Cuppa and my hubby must be related. Perhaps, as my mum says, they have clearer consciences:0)

He drinks coffee and sleeps like a baby.

Lorna said...

sleeplessness. That's why God invented Turner Classic Movies.

Woman in a Window said...

So, I'm 38 and already take sleeping pills for back problems and already I'm awake half the night. Predictions? (keep 'em, I don't want 'em.)

Pearl said...

I'm not 40 yet and I'm already shifting. I used to be able to fall asleep immediately, sleep in snatches and be back to full charge. I'm more like Cuppa now.

simplycol.com said...

So true, so true. I remember the days when I could sleep anytime anywhere... those days are gone. But, somehow, at least for me, I feel rested enough, even with less sleep. I simply find it frustrating to be wide awake when the rest of the world is oblivious.

dabrah said...

I can fall asleep almost anywhere. However, I now find that if I go to bed too early I'm wide awake in the middle of the night. I try to sleep around midnight, and although most nights I wake up after about 4 hours, I can usually fall back asleep again. If I can't, I get up and drink a cup of tea and read for an hour, and then go back to sleep. But I hate the nights when I don't sleep deeply, they're the worst.