It's Sleep Week on Gransnet, and all this week we're talking about the importance of getting some shut-eye, and how many of us often find ourselves more tired in the day than we ought to be. Do you need a lie down after lunch? Wake up in the morning feeling like you need another hour's sleep? <Yawns> Over 50s blogger and founder of Alternative Ageing, Suzi Grant, has seven top tips to help you sleep better and boost energy levels during the day.
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It's not just an age thing. Apparently, two-thirds of us aren't getting the quality of sleep we need to keep us going. The coronavirus pandemic has also had a negative impact on sleep, with 63% of Brits saying their sleep had been worse during lockdown in a study last year.
But a few dietary and lifestyle changes can really help. First though, make sure to see your doctor to rule out anaemia, thyroid conditions, diabetes, depression and any thing else that may be concerning you.
Check this list to see if any of these sleep robbers are affecting your sleep:
A medical expert can help you with the first four on this list, but it's certainly worth trying these simple solutions for the other sleep thieves, or looking into natural sleep remedies: invest in a new, firm mattress, especially if you have a fidgeting pet or partner, use ear plugs if it's noisy, and wear an eye mask if light disturbs you.
Nowadays, electrical equipment is causing more problems than ever before. Sitting in front of TVs, laptops and smartphones, we are bombarded with an electromagnetic frequency of around 100 to 160 Hz. Our brainwaves vibrate at around 8 Hz. That means our body is exposed to frequencies that vibrate 20 times faster than our brain waves, resulting in a lack of concentration, nervousness and insomnia. Turn them all off, including the wifi, at least an hour before bed time.
If you can, don't drink any caffeinated drinks much after 2pm, especially strong coffee, as it's the most active stimulant for the nervous system. Even sugar or late meals can disrupt your sleep. I once stayed awake till three in the morning because I had eaten dark chocolate in the evening!
Scientists know that after a couple of glasses of wine sends you off to sleep, it also precipitates a burst of norepinephrine (a stress hormone) that causes you to be wide awake at 3am! If wine has this effect on you, try and drink your vino early.
We are made up of at least 70% water (not tea, soft drinks or coffee!). Our cells need a constant supply of it throughout the day, much like our plants and our pets. There's no set amount you should drink as everyone varies in size and height but I have always advised clients to make sure to drink a small glass of water, every hour. You will be surprised how much difference it will make to your energy levels.
Getting regular exercise, preferably outside, helps boost energy levels. However tired I feel, just walking my dog to the park rejuvenates me better than any cup of coffee or sugary drink. If you like walking, try the 10k steps programme every day. It's not as hard as it sounds and you'll sleep like a log. There are plenty of phone apps that tell you how many steps you've taken that day.
The biggest factor for having more energy is the fuel you are putting in your body. Try these suggestions and you'll be amazed at how much better you feel.
Foods that are high on the glycaemic index, such as sports drinks, sugary snacks, and starchy carbs, such as white bread and pasta, can give you a 'high' followed by a huge crash in energy levels. Something as innocuous as mashed potato can release sugar into the blood stream almost as fast as sweets or chocolate. It's worth cutting out foods high on the glycaemic index during the day to see how you feel.
Keep starchy carbs for the evening meal to help you sleep and try eating more protein at breakfast and lunch, especially eggs and oily fish instead of cereal and sandwiches. Snack on seeds, nuts, and berries instead of sweets and chocolate, and drink water instead of expensive energy drinks. After all, you never see a sluggish bird!
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According to our circadian rhythms, that are many thousands of years old, there are two natural rhythms of sleep: between 10pm and midnight and between 1.30 and 2pm in the afternoon. The Spanish obviously know a thing or two! So don't beat yourself up if you still feel sleepy after following my suggestions. Listen to your body and if you need a lie down go for it. Listen to a podcast, a meditation or soothing music. A 20 minute relax will do you as much good as a 10 minute nap and neither will affect your night's sleep.
There are two amazing supplements you can try that really help us older folk have more energy during the day. Don't take either of them in the evening and do check with an expert if you are on medication and have any worries. I add either or both to my daily smoothie.
Maca: Known as Peruvian ginseng, Maca is a sweet brown powder that is a healthy stimulant. Grown high in the Andes, it's been used for thousands of years in Peru for fertility, libido and energy. If you are mentally exhausted or physically tired it will help you feel more energetic, vitalised and full of zest for life.
Spirulina: I have recently re-introduced this blue-green algae back into my daily smoothie and am astonished by the rise in my energy levels. I used to need a lie down early afternoon but not any more!
Spirulina is extremely high in protein and B12 and contains large amounts of gamma-linolenic: an important fatty acid that helps energy into every single cell in your body.
I hope this helps you and please do post your comments and other energy tips on Gransnet, I'd love to hear how you get on.
For more health, fashion and nutritional advice from Suzi, take a look at her blog.
Disclaimer: The information on our health pages is only intended as an informal guide and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. Gransnet would urge you to consult your GP before you begin any diet if you're concerned about your weight, have existing health conditions and/or are taking medication.