Insomnia is a nightmare infliction that hits many of us in middle age. A combination of the menopause (oh, don’t get me started on the night sweats!), reduced kidney function, general stresses of life, decreased exercise during the day and sometimes underlying health issues all seem to converge to affect our sleep patterns. This is only exacerbated in the UK by the problems of lockdown: added stresses, curtailed activities, blah, blah, blah.
Doctors often prescribe numerous drugs to relieve the interrupted sleep syndrome, often with more severe negative effects. Sometimes this works. Sometimes not.
I have had years- no, decades- of interrupted sleep. Whilst on some days this can obviously affect my general alertness and health (weight gain for one), I would like to propose a simple solution which helps me lead productive days even after fragmented sleep: Simply stop stressing about it.
Embrace the thought that your body WILL get the sleep it needs if you allow it. Embrace the concept of a short power nap.
I have always been a strong advocate of the power nap and even kept a mat in my office 25 years ago that I would roll out for this purpose. I must admit this was before the current movement towards social equality and the men on the trading floor where I worked thought that ritual was hysterical and sometimes pathetically wondered if it was an invitation. That’s another conversation. But I persisted with my daily routine.
As we age, interrupted sleep becomes all consuming. We often speak to our partners, friends, pets…whomever will listen…about it. You are not alone with this suffering! I am surprised how many of my fellow 50+ women do not power nap. No wonder exhaustion envelops you! Incorporate this daily practice and I hope you discover a more energised, happy existence!
The key to embracing the power of a 20-minute afternoon power nap is twofold:
1) Try to reduce caffeine and other stimulants during the day and 2) Listen to your body’s natural rhythm and grab the nap exactly when your energy levels dip. Don’t wait as the drop will pass and you’ve missed your window. Listen to your natural and embrace it. Go to a dark, quiet, comfortable area and close your eyes for 15-20 minutes. No more. You may fall asleep, you may not. Over time this practice of meditative time will energise you.
I know at 1.30pm I must do this daily routine. I usually fall deep asleep for 10 minutes and wake up more alert than a coffee can provide. I survive the day with this little bit of mindfulness.
Fragmented sleep obviously isn’t as ideal at nine straight hours sleep. However, stop stressing about it. Insomnia is common in middle age. Embrace the power of a quick nap. It works and is a simple way to cross off one worry from your list.
(Small disclaimer: This advice is based on my own personal experience and is not intended to replace medical advice. I am not a Dr, just a middle-aged lady with TONS of experience suffering with insomnia.)