What’s keeping you up at night? Sleeplessness affects about 69% of men over the age of 40. That’s a large chunk of guys who fall asleep only to be woken up during the night. Men wake up abruptly and then also experience trouble falling back asleep once they are awake.
A man’s overall health depends on getting sufficient, quality sleep making it just as important as the day you’re born.
Quality sleep is linked to lower rates of inflammation, better cognitive functioning, reduced heart disease, and enhanced resistance to viruses and colds. Conversely, men who experience chronic sleep deprivation are more likely to have higher risks of depression, memory loss, risk of dementia, and anxiety.
Sleep needs stay constant throughout adulthood. Growing older does not mean you require less sleep. On the contrary, older adults require between seven to nine hours each night for better health. However, what changes are a person’s sleep patterns that can significantly affect sleep quality.
Our body goes through periods of sleep stages, including light and deep sleep. One deep stage of sleep is called REM (rapid eye movement) repeated many times during the night. REM sleep is an important phase of your sleep cycle, essential for brain health, learning, and making or retaining memories. But, as we age, the REM stage becomes less frequent and is replaced by lighter stages of sleep. Lighter stages of sleep cause us to be easily awakened, making it difficult to get back to sleep.
Not only do sleep patterns change, but there are also other factors involved in affecting your sleep cycle. Here’s a look at three things preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. But more importantly, what you can do about it:
Nocturia is the need to urinate in the middle of the night. Any man over the age of 50 is very familiar with nocturia. Typically, nocturia will disrupt sometime during the first three to four hours of falling asleep, which is considered important for body restoration. Men’s main cause of nocturia is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) a noncancerous, enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate will press on the urethra, causing men to feel the need to urinate and more frequently.
How to fix this: Men can take several steps to reduce nocturia. One step is to stop drinking any fluids or beverages close to bedtime, at least 3 hours prior. Any man taking diuretics (water pills) for blood pressure control should ask their doctor about changing the dose, as it can result in frequent urination. If BPH is the problem, men should inquire about treatments such as medication, in-office procedures, or possibly surgery. Finally, men with underlying conditions such as heart failure, diabetes, or kidney issues that can also cause nocturia, should seek help for treatment.
2. Restless leg syndrome
Tingling, crawling, or pins and needles feeling in one, or both legs describes the condition called restless leg syndrome (RLS). These feelings often worsen during the night, causing a strong urge to move your legs, disrupting sleep continuously.
How to fix this: There are many suggestions from doctors and patients with RLS. These suggestions include:
- Soaking in a hot bath with two cups of Epsom salts that contain magnesium, helping muscles to relax.
- Eat a protein snack before bedtime to keep blood sugar stable.
- Review your prescription medications and over-the-counter meds with your doctor that might be making RLS worse.
- Drink more water and eat bananas for their potassium.
- Elevate your legs, sleep in a cool room, and try deep breathing exercises.
- Test for sleep apnea if over age 40 and carrying excess body weight.
- When RLS happens during the night, get out of bed and do calf stretches.
3. Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea occurs in about 25% of men, making it a quality of life issue and having sleep apnea results from blocking the upper airway when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses in front of it when lying down. Due to this blockage, people with sleep apnea can have short pauses in their breathing as they sleep. Signs of sleep apnea include daytime drowsiness, morning headaches, and lack of concentration.
How to fix this: Sleep apnea requires a diagnosis by a doctor. Once diagnosed, a common option using a continuous positive airway pressure device, ordfg CPAP. This machine is worn during the night as it blows air through a tube and a mask worn over the face helping keep airway passages open as you sleep.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.