Why it’s harder to ________ than it used to be

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vidar-nordli-mathisen-s-vhziQHngM-unsplashAs we get older we can get frustrated as our body doesn’t quite work the way it used to. The good news is that there is an explanation for why things, like sleep, get a little harder and that means that we can take steps to get around it!

Why it’s harder to get a good night’s sleep than it used to be…

Our sleep is governed by our circadian rhythm. This 24h cycle helps guide when we are awake and when we go to sleep. When we’re younger, we tend to have an earlier circadian rhythm than our parents and this shifts to a later circadian rhythm as teenagers (up til 2, sleeping til noon). As we get older, this circadian rhythm shifts earlier again and we end up in an early to bed, early to rise rhythm. This can be challenging since our schedules or and society don’t necessarily accommodate this. As we get older, the amount of deep sleep we get also starts to diminish.

Some have suggested that because the amount of deep sleep diminishes, it means that older adults need less deep sleep. This is not true! We need the same amount of deep sleep when we get older but it becomes harder to get it. The area of our brain that’s responsible for deep sleep starts to deteriorate.

So what can we do about it?

  • Focus on good sleep hygiene habits and keep a consistent sleep routine.
  • Avoid napping 4h before bed since this can make us not sleepy at night.
  • Try to keep all your caffeine consumption to the morning.

Why it’s harder to lose weight than it used to be…

We live crazy lives, between work, family commitments, social plans… this can make it hard to lose weight. This can get even harder as we get older and our metabolism starts to slow down. As we get older, our basal metabolic rate (the number of calories we burn in a day to stay alive) slows down so we burn less calories at rest. We also start to sleep more poorly and naturally lose muscle mass. Research has shown that poor sleep can mean that we over consume high carb and high fat snacks to the tune of 300 calories a day! That’s an average of 2100 calories a week – keep that up every week and that can equal 30lb in a year. Years of yo-yo dieting or crash dieting can also further slow down our metabolism. A study of contestants from The Biggest Loser found that former contestants burned ~600 calories per day less after the competition compared to before. This is despite regaining the weight they had lost – usually they had gained more.

So what can we do about it?

  • Improve your sleep! It’s harder to lose weight when we are sleep deprived because we tend to eat high calorie, processed foods.
  • Add in some resistance training. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. This helps to keep the metabolism high!
  • Take the long view. The more we crash diet, the harder it is to lose weight. Our brain things we’re in a “famine” so it stores calories thinking we will need it later. 1-2 lb of weight loss a weight is considered sustainable and healthy.
  • Move more. Pick activities that you enjoy – that means that you’ll do them.

edward-cisneros-_H6wpor9mjs-unsplash (1)Why it’s harder to “just do things” than it used to be…

We start to lose muscle mass after the age of 30. We lose an average of 3-5% per decade! Losing muscle mass means we have less strength to lift or carry things, and climb stairs. Arthritis also tends to peak it’s head out as we age. There are over 100 types of arthritis but most commonly we develop osteoarthritis. This means the cartilage that pads our joints wears out so there is less cushioning and our bones might grind on each other.

So what can we do about it?

  • Make sure you are eating enough protein from a variety of sources (1-1.3g of protein per kg of body mass. A 175lb person would need 79-103g of protein every day).
  • Add in some resistance training to your routine. This will help you keep your muscle mass which will make different activities of daily living easier. Having stronger muscles can also help support your joints and reduce joint pain.
  • Add in some stretching. As we get stiffer it can be harder to move around and you’re more likely to get injured. Hold your stretches to a point of tension (no pain!) for 20-30 seconds.

Scroll down and leave me a comment about what it mean to finally see the health changes you’ve always wanted.

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PS. Scroll down and leave me a comment about what it mean to finally see the health changes you’ve always wanted.

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