Recognizing the different causes of sleep disturbances

IRON MOUNTAIN — Sleep issues seem to be one of those concerns we have more often in retirement years. It is critical for overall good health and longevity that we get seven hours or better of restorative sleep each night. However, more than one-third of adults aren’t getting enough sleep. Lack of good sleep on a regular basis is a contributing factor to many health concerns, with obesity, diabetes and heart disease topping the list. Since brain health is dependent upon quality sleep on a regular basis, habitual poor sleep may also contribute toward the development of dementia later in life.

For as long as I can remember, a good night’s sleep has been an elusive commodity for me. As an overachiever with a Type A personality, my mind simply had a hard time shutting off. Typically, the worries associated with homework in high school and exams in college were an issue for me. Then the stresses of raising kids and working were the culprits. I figured once I retired, the sleep issues would finally resolve themselves, but I was wrong. I so envy my husband’s ability to fall asleep almost as soon as his head hits that pillow; I tease him that he could sleep on a picket fence!

There is nothing worse than feeling tired all the time. Telltale signs of a poor night’s sleep include excessive daytime sleepiness, awaking with a headache, awaking more than two or three times each night, and a general crabbiness and inability to concentrate.

It turns out that sleep is much more complicated than simply feeling tired, going to bed and sleeping the night away. The brain is sensitive to more than a few “sleep spoilers.” According to an article I recently read in AARP magazine, there are 11 different causes of sleep disturbances. The good news is that if we are aware of them, we will be able to identify them in ourselves, control and/or eliminate them, and be on our way to a good night’s sleep and a healthier life. If you, like me, are sleep challenged, take a minute and read through the following list.

1. The brain produces melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. Anything that inhibits the brain’s ability to produce this hormone keeps us awake. The blue light emitted by computer screens and the television delay the brain’s production of melatonin and is a huge culprit in robbing us of healthy sleep. Computer work should be avoided after supper. If you enjoy television into the evening, it is suggested you purchase a pair of blue light blocking glasses. You can find them on Amazon as well as other online retailers for a very reasonable price. That way, you can keep watching TV without its blue light messing with your brain and affecting your sleep.

2. If you are going through menopause, those hot flashes can make for sweaty wake-ups. You can wear moisture-wicking pajamas and sleep on a buckwheat pillow that is more cooling than latex or down. If your partner likes it warmer, consider a different comforter on each side of the bed that better suits individual heat preferences.

3. It is no secret that caffeine causes insomnia, so if you are having sleep issues, you would not dream of drinking coffee after lunch. But there are many other sources of caffeine that you may not even have considered. Anything containing chocolate also contains caffeine, so a mid-afternoon candy bar or iced tea at supper could be enough to keep you tossing and turning at night. Eliminate all caffeine after lunch.

4. Retirement is more laid back, so regular sleep schedules tend to fall by the wayside. An irregular schedule of bedtime and wake-up calls affects how your body produces and releases the all-important melatonin that signals the brain to shut down and allow sleep to happen. Keep a regular sleep schedule to regulate melatonin levels, and you should notice a difference.

5. Napping in the middle of the afternoon also prevents us from falling asleep at bedtime. Most people naturally feel sleepiest between two and three in the afternoon, when the body takes a natural dip in energy. Instead of nodding off, get up and exercise. Take a walk or ride your exercise bike … or even do a household chore. The activity will keep you alert, and the exercise will be good for you as well.

6. Sleep professionals will tell you to reserve bed for one of two activities only — sleep or sex. Do not get in the habit of doing any other activity in bed — not even something as relaxing as reading or adult coloring books. When other activities are done in bed, the brain actually expects activity instead of sleep so gears up for it instead of allowing you to peacefully drift off to get the rest you need.

7. Drinking alcohol in the evening also interrupts the brain’s ability to allow sleep. You may certainly feel drowsy and initially fall asleep easily, but the second half of sleep is dramatically interrupted. This rebound effect causes lighter and more fragmented sleep later at night and also decreases the overall quality of sleep. Consequently, you wake up feeling less refreshed in the morning. Discontinue any alcohol three hours before bedtime, and limit your intake to one drink for women and two for men.

8. Poor timing of medications also can adversely affect sleep quality. Specifically, diuretics for blood pressure can cause you to run to the bathroom throughout the night if you take them late in the day. Also, any antidepressant medication can be either energizing or sedating, depending on the type. Review medications with your physician to be sure you are taking them at the most appropriate times of the day.

9 –Anxiety is another common cause of insomnia. You may be falling asleep easily enough but then waking midway through the night, unable to fall back asleep due to your overactive mind. It is important to be able to address the root cause of anxiety through cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I. There actually are cell phone apps you can download that will help train your brain to slow down so you can get the rest you need. Use them during the day for best results. But if you do use them at night, be sure to use the blue light blocking setting on your smart phone.

10. Do not lie awake in bed for hours trying to fall asleep. This triggers your brain to believe that being awake in bed is actually normal. Get up, leave the bedroom and do something relaxing and calming in another room in dim light — listening to calming music is a good option. Do not stress about your current sleeplessness. Try to develop a mindset that sleep will come when it comes — if not tonight, then tomorrow night will be better. And, most important, do not compensate the following day with an afternoon nap, as it will create a vicious cycle of wakefulness at night and sleepiness during the day.

11. Finally, insomnia is both a symptom and a disease in itself. If you have improved your sleep habits by following the guidelines above, and you still cannot get a good night’s rest, then you may be suffering from an actual sleep disorder. A visit with your physician is necessary at this point. Your doctor can determine if a referral to a sleep specialist is needed to get a conclusive diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis brings appropriate treatment so you can get the restorative sleep your body and mind need to stay healthy.

Take it from someone who knows … do not be afraid of a C-PAP machine if one is prescribed. Three different types of head gear are available to choose from, and you can adjust easily after a couple of nights. The difference it makes in the quality of your sleep is life changing. You will not believe how good you feel when you wake up in the morning!






Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Ring toss, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts and gardening, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; evening visitor, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Golden Throats, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 11 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; bingo with Carol, 2 p.m.; Chris and Larry sing along, 3 p.m.; Lawrence Welk, 5 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking? 11 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; sing along, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; oldies but goodies, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; penny ante, 10 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; afternoon matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; horses here, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.; bonfire, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book Club, 10 a.m.; prayer, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; western movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Cowboy breakfast, 9 a.m.; western trivia, 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; Garden Club, 1 p.m.; high rollers, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; Bible study, 1 p.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; United Lutheran, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; hoedown music and treat, 2 p.m.; John Wayne movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Puzzler/rodeo parade in Iron River, 8:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise: 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Movie: 10:45 a.m. Sunday through Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day: Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits, outdoors, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Did you know? 10:15 am.; Crystal Hogan music, 2 p.m.; pokeno on the patio, weather permitting, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia 10:15 a.m.; resident council/food committee, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Table talk, 10:15 a.m.; monthly birthday party/Jim Edberg music, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Magic Moments, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Finish lines, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips and chatter, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; help your neighbor, 10:15 a.m.; music bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.; Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; “Deal or No Deal,” 10:15 a.m.; courtyard watermelon social, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Derby day, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2:30 p.m.; Carmelites outing, 6 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Short stories, 10:15 a.m.: monthly birthday party with Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; camp fire, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; “Scattegories,” 10:15 a.m.; prayer shawl, 2 p.m.; whammo, 6:15 p.m.; Music in the Park – Jan and Gino, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Ball toss, 10:15 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Travel club, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; movie, “Apollo 13,” 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Music with Pastor Jim, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Diane C’s birthday, 2 p.m., 

Thursday: “Wheel of Fortune,” 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; table volley, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; Phase 10 cards, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Manicures, 10 a.m.; music with Jan and Gino 2 p.m.; room visits, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; horse races, 2 p.m.; trivia, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; shuffle board, 2 p.m.; Flippo, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; Uno, 2 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; ball toss, 10:30 a.m.; Lutheran service, 2 p.m.; life stories, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Breakfast outing, 8 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; rosary (first), 2 p.m.; rosary (second), 2:30 p.m.; bean bag toss, 3:30 p.m.; checkers, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Outside social, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m., Pictionary, 3:30 p.m.; book cart, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Gardening, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; birthday party, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Outside social, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; Trouble board game, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; Jerry Beauchamp, 2 p.m.; social circle, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Karaoke, 10:15 a.m.; cards, 10:30 a.m.; ice cream social, 2 p.m.; reminiscing, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. Those who have meals delivered and will not be home should notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Suggested meal donations: $5 older than 60; $6 younger than 60; $1 extra for takeout.

To reserve meals, call the center by 1 p.m. with names and number of people.

Open: Monday through Wednesday, soup and salad bar at 4:30 p.m. and dinner at 5 p.m.

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner – all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; bridge club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage, 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48 hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. A transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Friday only at the center. 

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older; a $5 payment is required if younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen Hodgins at ext. 230.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Barbecue pulled pork, potato wedges, calico beans, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Philly steak casserole, carrots, roll, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Chef salad, cottage cheese, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Stuffed shells, wax beans with bacon, breadsticks, dessert and milk.

Saturday, July 20: Pancake breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m., $5.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those in the Niagara, Wis., area. Any senior groups that would like to use the meal site as a meeting place is welcome — join us for lunch and stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available. 

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Monday: Center board meeting, 10 a.m.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, glazed carrots, salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Tuesday: Taco salad with vegetables over tortilla chips, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice and dessert.

Wednesday: Noon meal is beef stroganoff over egg noodles, green beans, fruit juice, salad bar and dessert. Evening meal is barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, soup and salad bar and dessert. Bingo and 50-50 drawing also planned.

Thursday: Birthday Club, with chicken bacon alfredo over linguine, broccoli, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice and birthday cake.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome.