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– about normal sleep and naps in infants and toddlers up to 3 years
– how sleep impacts babies’ development and growth
– the strategies to help your child learn to sleep on his / her own, from ‘cry it out’ to the ‘no cry sleep solution’ and everything in between
– how to set your lifestyle, and bedroom, for good sleep
– how parents can still get the sleep they need despite parenting in the night
Over 15,000 interviews were conducted in China with people 65 years old and older, including almost 2,800 people age 100 or more. China has an estimated 40.5 million people who are 75 years old and older. The US has more than 18 million people in this age group.
Looking at this population, 65% of the people reported their sleep is “good or very good.” Total sleep time was 7.5 hours, which included naps. Men were more likely to sleep well than women.
An interesting finding was that the oldest (age 100+) were 70% more likely to sleep well than those ages 65 to 79. They were also 3 times more likely to sleep 10 or more hours each night, and less likely to get only 5 hours of sleep.
Access to healthcare and economic status also made a difference – people were 84% more likely to sleep well if they had adequate healthcare. The people with poor health overall were less likely to sleep well, as were those with a chronic disease, anxiety, or difficulty doing the tasks of daily living. Those with good economic stability were more likely to sleep well.
How Can We Use this Information?
Although this study gives us valuable information about sleep in the elderly, it does not give information on cause. We are still left wondering “How long did these elderly people sleep in their middle age?” “Did their sleep habits earlier in life allow them to live into their hundreds?”
What was clear is that those with the best overall health were more likely to sleep well. So taking good care of yourself, addressing health concerns, and getting help from a medical professional when needed will help your sleep in the long run.
This Chinese study is ongoing, so we’ll be able to learn more about this in another couple years – stay tuned!
The Infant Sleep Diary below is for one day of data. Keep this diary for 3-4 days, then take the time to analyze it. The primary thing to look for is consistency:
Are the times the same each day?
Is the location of bedtime or naps the same each day?
Is the order of activities the same?
The answer to each of these questions should be yes. Research into infant sleep has shown that many sleep routines work well, so long as they are consistent. For sleep deprived parents, this consistency can be hard, but it will pay off in the end with a child who falls asleep more quickly, and has fewer night-time wakenings.
You can learn to handle shiftwork as well as possible. Here’s a few beginning steps:
Educate your family or roommates about what you’ll need to sleep well. This includes quiet without interruptions during your sleep time, a dark and cool room, and as regular a schedule as possible. Sometimes family members are eager to see you and share their news. When setting a sleep schedule, also schedule a predictable time that you’ll be available to them.
Make your sleep schedule as consistent as possible over the entire week.
If possible, take a short nap during the middle of your shift. Be cautious to become fully alert before performing your job duties.
Use caffeine strategically. Caffeine is more effective as a stimulant if you don’t use it much. During the night shift, take a serving of caffeine at the time when your alertness starts to dip. The caffeine will take effect in about 20 minutes, and does improve measures of performance. Be cautious not to take it so close to bedtime that it interferes with falling asleep.
Limit light exposure on the commute home by taking public transit and wearing blue light blocking sunglasses.
With these strategies, shiftwork should be easier. A special thanks goes out to all those folks who work nights, keeping the rest of us safe.
The Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine focuses on natural care for sleep problems, including shiftwork. More information is at www.naturalsleepmedicine.net.
I get this question all the time from patients who ask “what about naps?” Let me give you a little information about naps and night time sleep. Another day we’ll look at the effect of naps on alertness and performance.
There are several things to know before deciding to take a nap or not. First of all, from the time we wake until the time we go to bed our sleep drive increases. This sleep drive helps us fall asleep easily. When a nap is taken, it decreases our sleep drive back to zero, and there is less time than normal until bedtime, so at bedtime our sleep drive is less than normal. This can result in difficulty falling asleep, or in a short sleep duration.
The second thing to understand is the sleep cycle. There are four stages of sleep – REM, and NonREM stages 1, 2, and 3. Stage 3 is considered “deep” sleep, and is the most difficult to wake up from. We cycle through all these stages every 90-120 minutes. So a short nap of 30 minutes, or a longer nap of an hour and a half is best. This helps avoid waking out of stage 3 sleep and feeling groggy.
So overall, if you are going to take a nap, take it earlier in the day so that your sleep drive has time to build up again before bedtime and help you fall asleep easily. Also time your nap for less than 30, or more than 90 minutes so that you can wake feeling alert, not groggy.