Why your sleep is getting worse... and how to fix it

Nothing's as good as it used to be, right?

The coffee's too bitter, the music's too noisy, and don't even get me started on the garbage that passes for TV these days.

And those aren't the only things that have changed over the years.

Even SLEEP isn't what is used to be!

As you get older, it's harder to get the sleep you need. Even when you THINK you've gotten all 40 winks, you can wake up feeling not quite as rested as you used to.

Now, the latest research shows why -- and it's a problem deep inside your brain.

UC Berkeley researchers wrote in the journal Neuron that the parts of the brain that start to slow with age are the same areas needed to produce what's known as "slow wave" sleep, or the deep sleep that's so essential to rest and rejuvenation.

The brain also struggles to generate essential neurochemicals such as galanin and orexin, which help to control the sleep cycles.

That poor rest, in turn, can lead to even more problems in the brain that can set the stage for memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia.

Sleep drugs can't help here -- even when they make you sleep LONGER, they don't lead to the same natural sleep cycles and won't necessarily increase your slow wave sleep.

But that doesn't mean you have to suffer from the sleep-robbing effects of age. You can take action today so you can rest better tonight and get more of that essential slow-wave sleep, and I've got some quick tips that'll help you do just that.

First, try some valerian.

This natural sleep-friendly herbal remedy is not only proven to help folks sleep longer and better, but it's especially effective at increasing your slow-wave sleep.

Second, eat more fiber.

A study last year found boosting fiber intake helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get more of that all-important slow-wave "deep" sleep that's so hard to come by as you get older.

Third, turn off the devices.

The blue light wavelengths emitted from electronics such as iPads can alter your brain and change your sleep patterns. As a result, researchers found that just 30 minutes on an iPad before bed can delay slow-wave sleep.

Read a book instead.

Finally, limit your booze -- and definitely don't drink right before bed, as alcohol can alter your sleep mix, changing how and when you get your slow-wave sleep in ways that can leave you feeling crummy in the morning.

If you have to drink before turning in, try herbal tea instead. Some of them even have that valerian I just mentioned.