I don’t know about you but for me one of the least desirable aspects of getting longer in the tooth is lack of sleep.
Gone are the nights of 10-hour slumbers like in my teens. In my 20s-30s I often achieved a steady 9 hours. In my 40s-50s, 8 hours hit the spot. Ah, those were the days.
Now that I’m in my 60s, my snoozing time lasts about as long as an Oliver Stone movie, generally just over 3 hours. I’m then awake for 2, followed by another hour or two of semi-consciousness. I tell ya, if I keep going like this, when I hit 70 the act of a prolonged blink will constitute a nice little nap.
I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m a night owl. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not my fault. I blame my mom. Like my sister and me, she stayed up well past midnight, needing to force herself to sleep around 2:00 a.m. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for a visit from the Sandman, does it?
I know as we age the rumor is we don’t require as much sleep. I hope that’s true but still, I’d settle for a solid 5 hours. Not reaching that magical number definitely shows. Like, for instance, when I saw the photo of myself in my last blog. I was horrified at how old and tired I looked. When did THAT happen? I blame it on lack of sleep. Or better yet, my parents.
But guess what? It turns out I’m not just arbitrarily blaming my mom and dad. That’s because I recently read about a study at the University of Leicester, Department of Genetics, that human sleep patterns go beyond preferences but are governed by genetics. AH HA!
You may wonder how this was discovered. Or maybe you don’t. But I’ll tell you anyway because it’s pretty interesting. Turns out fruit flies share 75% of disease-causing genes with humans. Who knew? And that’s why scientists use fruit flies as proxies for people in many studies. Your welcome.
Mixed in with all the mumbo-jumbo brainy people use in neurology publications, the gist of it is this: Feel free to blame your sleep patterns on your parents. Works for me!
As you can imagine, sleep deprivation causes all sorts of awful repercussions, like a higher risk of motor accidents, an increase in fatal ailments, loss of sex drive and premature aging. Well, good day to you, too.
According to the Sleep Foundation, most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. I only know one adult who accomplishes that. Come to think of it, she doesn’t have many wrinkles (damn her) and she’s older than me. The skin under her eyes is like a Dyson vacuum — totally bagless, while mine resembles an old Electrolux with those long narrow bags.
They say it’s natural for some to be night owls while others are morning larks. But what about those of us who are late to bed and early to rise? What’s to become of us? But I guess that was answered two paragraphs ago…
So unless I get more shut eye, my prognosis appears grim. The thing is, I don’t want to get hooked on sleeping pills and I find counting sheep boring but not sleep-worthy. What to do, what to do…
Oh, that’s right. I forgot…Blame my parents.
Previously posted in 2015.