Most people tend to notice changes in their own physical capabilities as they get older, and as we approach (*gasp*) middle age, it becomes more and more noticeable that certain things aren't as easy, or don't work as well, as they used to 10 years before. Our eyes can't quite make out those street signs at night, our stomachs can't handle late-night fast food like our teenage stomachs did, and our energy levels aren't quite as high as they used to be.
Another thing many of us struggle with as we get older is sleep! Maybe we stay up too late or have trouble falling asleep at night, or we just don't get good quality rest. It's important to understand your own sleep patterns so that you can take steps to ensure you're getting as close to the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night as you can. Here are 10 things your sleep patterns say about you.
10 You're an early bird
Are you the type of person who wakes with the sun? If so, you're also the type of person who shines in the morning and this is your best time of day. You get up early and greet the day with energy, and you have a fairly consistent morning routine that you follow. Breakfast is an important part of that routine, and you usually have something fairly healthy to start the day.
You are most productive in the morning as well, feeling energized and motivated. If you are someone who enjoys working out, you often do your workouts in the morning as well. By the afternoon, you begin to fade, and you're usually in bed at a good time.
9 You're a night owl
Perhaps your mornings are off to a slower start, but you really hit your stride when the sun starts to set. If you're a bit of a night owl, you get your best work done in the evenings and even into the wee hours of the early morning. You love the peace and silence when the rest of the house is sleeping, and you cherish that quiet time to yourself.
Since your energy levels tend to rise in the evening, you also enjoy getting your workout in after hours as well. Being slower to wake, you tend to need to rely on an alarm clock to get you going in the mornings. Breakfasts don't tend to be as important to you, you're happy with a coffee until lunch time when you really start to wake up.
8 You need an alarm clock to wake, even after 10+ hours sleep
If you find that you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, even after 10 or more hours of sleep, you could be dealing with some underlying causes for that lack of energy. It could be that your sleep quality is not great, so even though you're sleeping for a good number of hours, the combined total of quality sleep is not that high, so you wake feeling unrefreshed.
If you are a new mom and up throughout the night looking after a newborn, then it wouldn't matter that you got 10+ hours sleep, if you were up several times throughout those hours. Broken sleep like that does not count as quality sleep. However, if you're not being woken throughout the night and are still finding it hard to wake in the morning, consider speaking to your doctor about it. They may want to do some investigating to see if you are possibly struggling with depression or sleep apnea.
7 You toss and turn all night
Do you find that you toss and turn all night, struggling to get comfortable and into a deep sleep? If this tends to be your sleep pattern regularly, that might be something you want to look into. It could possibly be Restless Legs Syndrome, a sleep disorder that affects 7-10% of the population. It could also be a sign of possible anxiety or hyperthyroidism.
Tossing and turning once in a while in a restless sleep is not a big concern. It could possibly be due to poor sleeping conditions - a lumpy pillow, uncomfortable mattress, or the wrong temperature for sleeping. Try adjusting some of those things in your room to see if you can get a better night sleep. If the tossing and turning continues, however, consider speaking to your doctor about it.
6 Your sleep is more disrupted at certain times of the month
If you notice that your sleepless nights tend to occur near the start of your period, there's a chance there might be a connection there. It could be that you are entering perimenopause, and it is affecting your sleep pattern.
Prior to entering perimenopause, women's sleep cycles didn't tend to be affected by what phase they were at in their menstrual cycle. However, once a woman has entered perimenopause, there is a distinct change in her sleep pattern at certain times of the month.
5 You and your partner fall asleep and wake at the same time
When your partner falls asleep, do you tend to fall asleep around the same time? Do you both tend to stir awake in the morning around the same time? If you fall asleep and wake up around the same time as your partner, that's a good sign, it means you are fairly happy in your marriage. Yay!
A sleep study that was conducted concluded that the closer a woman's sleep cycle matched her partner's, the happier she was in the marriage.
4 You love your daily naps
Do you love to take a break mid-afternoon and have a little nap? Many people enjoy their afternoon naps, and many Italian and Spanish communities incorporate this into the regular work day, allowing for the afternoon siesta. There is a natural dip in alertness between 1:00-3:00 p.m. and the afternoon nap helps to improve this by giving the body a little break.
Studies have shown that taking time for an afternoon nap is very beneficial, as it lower blood pressure, increases focus and productivity, and decreases the risk of heart disease! So, you get a break and you help your body at the same time. It's a win-win!
3 You wake up tired every morning
Are you exhausted every morning without fail? Do you wake up feeling drained, even if you've had good quality, uninterrupted sleep? If you tend to wake up feeling exhausted every morning, no matter how much sleep you get, it is likely that there is an underlying condition causing this.
Possible reasons for feeling consistently tired could include sleep apnea or depression, and these would be something to discuss with your doctor. Another possibility could be hypothyroidism, causing you to feel fatigued on a regular basis. Keep an eye on how often you are waking up feeling exhausted (after a good, uninterrupted sleep), and look into some help if it becomes a pattern.
2 You can't fall asleep without the television on
This is a fairly common sleep pattern that people do, falling asleep in front of the television. Many people find the background noise to be comforting, and it helps to drown out the swirling thoughts in their heads and helps them fall asleep. Sometimes, when it's perfectly silent, and we're alone with our thoughts, our eyes pop open and a million thoughts bombard us at once.
Having some white noise to help us shush that constant stream of consciousness can be a signal of possible depression, some experts caution, but others simply use it as an aid to fall asleep, the same way we do for our little ones with the white noise machines. The television is just our adult version of the Sleep Sheep!
1 You wake in the night and can't fall back to sleep
This has to be one of the more frustrating of the sleep difficulties, because you get teased with the beginnings of a good night sleep at first, but then you wake in the middle of the night, and it's like it's game-over for you. You lie there with your eyes wide open until the first few rays of sun start to peek through the window blinds.
Waking in the middle of the night and being unable to fall back to sleep can sometimes be an indication of anxiety, as it's when we try to fall back to sleep that we get consumed with worrisome thoughts. It could also be a sign of Restless Legs Syndrome again, as those symptoms tend to occur primarily at night as well. Make sure your sleep conditions are conducive to good quality sleep as well - a comfortable mattress, good pillow, suitable blankets, comfortable temperature, and a dark room. That should help you nod off a little easier the next time you wake up at night.