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www.ProHealth.com • March 11, 2004


Are you getting enough sleep? Research has indicated that insomnia makes people age 65 and older much more likely to suffer from significant cognitive decline. But even losing an hour or two a night of needed sleep on a regular basis can impair brain function. After all, who, consistently deprived of sleep, can think straight? Older people need as much sleep as younger adults, but unfortunately, often have trouble getting it. Natural age-related changes in the body's circadian rhythm; prescription medications that can make you drowsy in the middle of the day; a slowdown in the physical activity that makes the body feel less physically fatigued - these and other alterations can make it difficult in later years to get a sound night of deep, restful sleep. Available solutions are not necessary high-tech, but they're effective for many: --Don't take caffeine, including caffeine in over-the-counter pain relievers, too late in the day.
--Speak to your physician about whether any of your prescription drugs could be causing sleeplessness, and ask if the dosage - and schedule, can be changed.
--Don't eat a lot after dinner because that can result in high levels of stomach acid that provoke discomfort at bedtime.
--Go to bed at pretty much the same time every night.
--Avoid alcohol before going to sleep. It allows you to fall asleep faster but often interrupts sleep in the middle of the night. Additionally, there are herbal options you might try to promote restful, restorative sleep - including valerian. (Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter)



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