Michael Merrill, MD
September is National Healthy Aging Month. Whether you are in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, or older, there are many questions you may have pertaining to your everyday health. Throughout the month, our medical professional will answer some of the more common questions they get from patients.
Q: I feel like I have a nap in the afternoon, but then I have trouble sleeping at night, how can I balance that?
A: You could approach this problem from two angles. First, if you have insomnia as the primary problem, fixing that might reduce your need for an afternoon nap. There is a whole list of possible causes. (See, e.g., http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/basics/causes/con-20024293) For example, you might be drinking caffeine in the afternoon, or you could have sleep apnea, which creates poor quality sleep. You could be taking a stimulating medication, like an antidepressant, before bedtime. One common problem is looking at a television or computer screen long into the evening. The blue light from the screen tells your brain that it's morning and makes it hard to sleep. It's a strange suggestion, but you could try wearing amber sunglasses around the house after 7 p.m.
The other possibility is that something in the afternoon is taking away your energy. A heavy lunch can do this. Lunchtime medications, if they reduce your blood pressure a bit, can cause fatigue at this time of day. Also, in my experience, people who eat a high-carbohydrate lunch, especially if they eat bread, sometimes get sleepy afterwards. You can try increasing the protein and good fats in the meal.
Rochester Regional is committed to helping every patient remain healthy, active and independent. Rochester Regional offers a range of senior care programs and services to our aging community, including independent living facilities, adult day care programs and skilled nursing homes. For more information, visit https://www.rochesterregional.org/services/seniors/.