The Simple Secret to Great Sleep
Sweet dreams at every age
Your 20s and 30s: Check your thyroid
New moms usually blame sluggishness or insomnia on the demands of parenthood, says Laura Corio, MD, an OB-GYN in private practice in New York City and attending physician at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. But the true culprit may be postpartum thyroiditis, which 5 to 10 percent of women develop in the year following delivery.
Typically, it starts with mild hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), which can rev you up and set off insomnia. After a couple of months, the condition may swing to hypothyroidism, in which a lack of thyroid hormone slows your body's functions, leaving you feeling constantly tired. If you're too jumpy to sleep or have extreme fatigue postpartum, see your doctor.
Your 20s and 30s: Say goodbye to sadness
Donna Arand, PhD, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio, and an American Academy of Sleep Medicine spokeswoman, recommends a two-fold treatment for insomnia with depression: cognitive behavioral therapy, a therapeutic approach which can be used specifically to target insomnia and bad sleep habits, plus talk therapy aimed at alleviating depression, adding or adjusting medication as appropriate. (The antidepressant trazodone may help with both insomnia and depression.)
Yours 40s: Notice when you go at night
Yours 40s: Deepen zzz's with exercise
The type of exercise that's best for triggering slow-wave sleep isn't clear, but aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity on most days, suggests Wilfred R. Pigeon, PhD, director of the Sleep and Neurophysiology Research Lab at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Your 50s+: Mind your meds
If your doc says it's OK, try taking your pills in the morning instead of the evening. And statins for cholesterol-control can deplete your body's muscles of co-enzyme Q10, a natural protein required for normal functioning of muscle cells; the resulting muscle aches might make falling asleep a challenge. If that sounds like you, Dr. Volgman suggests asking your doctor if you might benefit from taking a co-Q10 supplement.
Your 50s+: Saw less wood
OSA can have some heavy consequences, such as worsening or increasing the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, or stroke. "The risk of developing sleep apnea increases after menopause when progesterone levels drop," Arand sayspossibly because progesterone may help the muscles of the upper airway stay open. Being overweight is also a big risk factor for OSA (and weight gain is a common occurrence during menopause); in some cases, slimming down can actually cure the disorder.