Once you hit the age of 40, you’ve entered a decade of transition. Just as teenagers have the difficult task of leaping from childhood into adulthood, women and men in their 40s are faced with the leap from adulthood into their older years. By this age, most people have accomplished some of their goals and are thinking about how they can make even bigger things happen in their lives.
You may now start to think more seriously about retirement and protecting your health so that you can enjoy an active, healthy and productive life for many decades to come. If that’s going to happen, you need to start taking your sleep more seriously.
Sleep Needs in Your 40s
If you look at a sleep chart by age, you’ll see that most experts recommend that adults over the age of 25 get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. There is some room for variance between individuals, but it’s generally agreed that more than 10 hours is considered oversleeping and less than six hours is insufficient.
You will know that you’re getting adequate sleep if you wake up easily in the morning and don’t have to hit snooze repeatedly. Feeling refreshed rather than exhausted is always a great sign. If you want to determine your optimal sleep time with greater precision, start with your wake-up time and count backwards eight or nine hours.
Go to bed at that time each night for at least a week. Pay attention to what time you naturally wake up without an alarm clock. If you routinely get up after six or seven hours, then you may need less sleep than some others in their 40s. If you make it to nine hours without waking up, then you may be someone who needs nine to 10 hours of sleep.
If you do this experiment and find that you feel exhausted no matter how much sleep you get, you may want to check with your doctor to determine potential causes for oversleeping. While looking at patterns of sleep by age can give you some insight into what is healthy during each phase of life, keep in mind that your body is unique.
Sleep Challenges in Your 40s
While a lot of amazing things can happen in the fourth decade of your life, it’s no secret that this is when many people experience the dreaded midlife crisis or get depressed thinking about the things that they have yet to accomplish. Women may hit menopause and should start the unpleasantries of scheduling mammograms. Men and women may also start experiencing sleep problems, including insomnia and sleep apnea.
There is a link between menopause and insomnia, and it often starts during perimenopause. This is the result of fluctuating hormones in some cases, but other symptoms of menopause are often what disturbs sleep most often. For instance, many women will start waking up with hot flashes or headaches. It’s also common for women to experience depression after turning 40. Depression can lead to oversleeping or may make it difficult to stop thinking and fall asleep.
Men may experience insomnia due to the emotional impact of a midlife crisis. Researchers have also found a connection between low testosterone levels and sleep problems, and this is a problem that any man can experience after the age of 40.
While these problems are common for men and women in their 40s, don’t focus on what could go wrong at this point in your life. Do your best to get adequate sleep so that you remain as healthy as possible as you get older, and stay focused on progressing toward bigger goals. You still have a lot of time to accomplish something amazing.