I am many, many times blessed at this time in my life for having unbroken, deep sleep almost every night.
Maybe my time is coming as I hear of huge numbers of seniors not sleeping well, and the problem worsening as they age.
There’s a hormonal reason for having difficulty sleeping at night that relates to melatonin and growth hormones production decreasing with age.
Less melatonin has many older adults feel sleepy in the early evening and wake up in the early morning. They also may have more trouble falling asleep.
Growth hormone is what makes children sleep so deeply. As we age, our body secretes less of this hormone and deep sleep becomes more elusive.
The time when my good sleep was disturbed was during menopause (especially if I’d consumed a glass of wine). Night sweats are just one of several unpleasant symptoms of menopause, and they certainly woke me up.
There are other common contributors to sleeping badly. Apart from pregnancy, all of the following can be exacerbated by ageing.
- Pain (arthritic discomfort can keep you awake)
- Difficulty breathing / sleep apnea
- Need to use the bathroom (tiny bladders or large prostates)
- Hunger or thirst (can be a sign of diabetes)
I wish I had an easy fix for nocturnal sleeplessness. You will find some help perhaps in one of the YogaAnywhere cards called “Relaxing – Insomnia Sequence”.
I like very much the spin on sleep that B.K.S. Iyengar gives in his interpretation of one of Patanjali’s Sutra relating to sleep:
Abhava pratyaya alambana vrttih nidra
Sleep is the non deliberate absence of thought-waves or knowledge.*
Iyengar says, “Sleep gives one a glimpse of the Seer, but only indistinctly because the light of discrimination, viveka, is clouded. Simulation of this state when one is awake and aware is samadhi….”
Charlotte Bronte also had some wisdom on the topic of sleep. She said, “A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.”
*Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, B.K.S. Iyengar