As I get older, I find it harder to get a good night's sleep. I know I function better on seven (or more) hours of uninterrupted sleep, but it's elusive. Night sweats wake me or the furry friends purr too loudly or hog the bed. I used to sleep through that. Caffeine also bothers me more. I can't have any after five p.m., or I'll fall asleep but wake shortly after. I can't fall back to sleep as easily as I once did.
I follow a nighttime regime of turning off screens—no computer, phone or tablet as studies show the light interferes with sleep—and take a book to bed. Heaven knows I'm tired enough when my head hits the pillow. I don't want to take a sleep aid. Some are addictive or habit forming, while others, like an antihistamine that knocks you out, may interfere with brain function if used long term.
What's a safe alternative? I'm using lavender essential oil. Research shows that the smell of this herb with the little purple flowers can help slow the brainwaves and allow a deeper, more restful sleep.
I mist the pillowcases with a lavender spray before bed—they dry while I read, leaving a nice, light scent. I've also bought lavender in the essential-oil formula and put it on a cotton ball alongside my bed. The fragrance is a little stronger. Lavender in many forms can be purchased inexpensively at a pharmacy or health food store. I've even seen lavender added to fabric softeners.
If you have asthma, you won't want to use any essential oils without checking with a health care professional, and lavender is not to be ingested or applied topically. The sweet scent seems to be working for me; see you in the morning.
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The Silver Century Foundation promotes a positive view of aging. The Foundation challenges entrenched and harmful stereotypes, encourages dialogue between generations, advocates planning for the second half of life, and raises awareness to educate and inspire everyone to live long, healthy, empowered lives.
"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not poorer, but is even richer."
Cicero (106-43 BC)