Are some people genetically programmed to sleep better than others? Is your sleep somehow getting worse with age? What does good sleep even mean? If lying awake in the small hours sounds familiar, roving questions perfectly feeding your anxiety, here are some answers to put your mind at rest, and with any luck, your body too.
The good, the bad and the sleepy
22% of Americans say they never get enough sleep. Sounds dire, sure, but does anyone actually know how many hours we should be aiming for? Although there’s no magic number when it comes to the number of hours needed to constitute a good night’s sleep, sleep quality is something that can be assessed. Restorative sleep happens when we go through a full cycle of the four sleep stages, four to six times in a single night, thus providing us with enough REM sleep, which should ideally make up between 20-25% of your sleep. After your last REM cycle, you should wake up feeling rested and alert.
Is poor sleep in my DNA?
It would seem that some people are inherently more capable at sleeping than others. For example, if you’re the type of person that wakes in the night for no discernable reason and can’t get back to sleep, blame it on the FABP7 — or rather your lack of it. Shorthand for a specific genre expression, research has shown strong preliminary findings that it curbs sleep disruptions. Initial studies have been small-scale, but scientists have identified that while humans with a malfunctioning FABP7 gene may get as many hours of sleep as those with a proficient FABP7 expression, they experience more waking moments and don’t sleep as soundly.
But fear not – despite your dodgy DNA, there’s a wealth of proven ways to sleep better out there and these are just a few of them.
Is it my age that’s making me sleep badly?
When we talk about sleep changing with age, we focus on how sleep becomes shallower and more broken up, with mornings seeming to arrive earlier. And while extensive sleep research shows all that to be true, sleep expert, Dr Michael Grandner is keen to offer some welcome perspective. “I think that it's important to note that sleep is dynamic and it changes with age but it's not necessarily bad news.”
“Older people tend to be more sensitive to light, so they’ll often wake earlier in the morning but they tend to go to bed a little earlier too. So really, it’s a shift rather than a decline. Moreover, if you look at the data surrounding increased daytime fatigue in the aging population, it has more to do with medical issues arising from age rather than poor sleep itself. If those are effectively treated, then statistically, the rise in fatigue goes away.”
“Generally speaking, you do get less quality sleep in your later years, but as it happens, humans also need less sleep as they age. With age, we all become increasingly resilient to sleep and put less pressure on ourselves to get it.”
Dr Michael Grandner, certified in Behavioural Sleep Medicine and an Associate Professor at The University of Arizona.
Surprisingly, the age group that most consistently reports dissatisfaction with their sleep is the 18-30 year olds. Demanding lives coupled with professional pressure to put work before rest mean that many young people are awake when they should be asleep. On the flip side, the 70-80 year olds are the least likely to report sleep issues even though they may take longer to fall asleep, wake up more during the night and have more sleep disorders. Why? “Because they have different expectations, other health issues they're worrying about and also by that point they're likely retired they don't need to be performing 24/7. There are all sorts of social, environmental and cultural reasons behind sleep changes with age,” says Professor Michael Grandner.
Why do I seem to be the only one who can’t sleep?
Never does sleep seem more elusive than when it’s happening on the pillow right next to yours. If it feels like your husband is always sound asleep whilst you’re tossing and turning, you’re not imagining it. Statistics show that women have a lifetime risk of insomnia that’s 40% higher than men which is predominantly down to female hormonal shifts. It's also worth noting that women in the 40-60 age bracket often experience a spike in sleep problems during menopause but that menopause insomnia reaches a peak and then starts improving. “Interestingly, that peak in fatigue is lower than the peak experienced by women in their twenties and early thirties building careers, navigating the work-life balance and juggling young families. If you can make it through that, the good news is that actually, the worse your sleep gets later in life, it really might not feel half as bad,” assures Professor Grandner.
Should I try taking natural sleep aids?
Saddle up, because when it comes to natural supplements to claim to help sleep, it’s the Wild West out there. Anecdotal evidence of natural ingredients for better sleep like valerian root, magnesium and lavender is widespread, but scientific evidence and recommended dosages are yet to back them up. In a study of 31 melatonin supplements sold in US stores, 71% were not within 10% of their listed dosage. What hard evidence has ascertained though, is that when it comes to perceived sleep quality, the placebo effect is very strong indeed, (case in point, there’s a TikTok trend right now for drinking lettuce water to help you sleep).
Far more helpful is to rely on evidential proof. The LYMA Supplement has been peer-reviewed to surpass placebo benefits and offer a measurable improvement in restorative sleep. Ten meticulously balanced power ingredients including patented full-spectrum adaptogen Sensoril® Ashwagandha, uniquely formulated at the clinical dose proven to alter your sleep state, curcumin extract HydroCurc® for a measurable anti-inflammatory effect and unrivaled quality saffron extract affron® to ease midnight worries and calm the nervous system, ready for sleep.
“LYMA is the only ‘whole system’ sleep supplement based purely on scientific evidence.”
Professor Paul Clayton, LYMA Director of Science.
LYMA not only gets you to sleep quicker but also enhances your sleep quality when you’re at rest, helping you to reach next-level health. During the REM sleep stage, the brain strengthens its neural connections improving focus and gaining mental dexterity but supplementing with a proven brain power boosting nootropic such as Cognizin® in LYMA, further increases brain activity and supports cognitive communication for an even sharper mind for the day ahead.