January 18, 2020 08:28
Waking up early is often touted as a prerequisite for success, but going to sleep too early could lead to sleep disorder, doctors warn.
With age the diurnal biorhythm speeds up and people have more and more trouble getting a good night's sleep, which sometimes leads to dozing off early in the evening and then tossing and turning in the small hours.
Shin Won-chul at Kyunghee University Hospital at Kangdong said, "Our brains start running on a clock that is a bit faster than 24 hours with age and, although we're not exactly sure of the cause, this may be due to the aging of the suprachiasmatic nucleus."
Another cause is a decrease in the sleep hormone melatonin. At 55, the body secretes only about half the melatonin of younger years, and at 70 only about one-third.
Melatonin causes people to fall asleep but also keeps them in deep sleep. "If you fall asleep early in the evening and wake up very early, you can't achieve deep sleep. If the quality of sleep deteriorates, you could end up with high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease."
So how to reset the sleep cycle? First, make sure your surroundings are brightly lit in the early evening. Choi Ji-ho at Soonchunhyang University said, "If you let a lot of bright light stimulate your eyes in the evening, melatonin secretion is suppressed, pushing back the time you fall asleep."
Second, try to sit up until at least 10 p.m. If you lie down after dinner and watch TV, you end up nodding off on the sofa or bed and then find it hard to go back to sleep. Choi also recommends going for an evening stroll or other activities.
If that does not help, there is always medication, like drugs to suppress melatonin on the one hand or sleeping pills on the other to help reset the body clock.
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