Aging and poor sleep do not have to go hand in hand. It is true that our sleep patterns can change as we age. We may become sleepy earlier, awaken earlier, and experience more time in the light stages of sleep rather than a deep sleep. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still awaken feeling refreshed.
What is true is that most healthy adults, including older adults, require 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night. So, the question begs to asks itself, how do you achieve a good night’s sleep?
You can start during the daytime with healthier daytime habits. Regular exercise which releases natural chemicals in your body that help promote a more restful sleep.
Limit your caffeine intake late in the day, avoid alcohol close to bedtime, avoid heavy meals close to bedtime especially spicy foods, and minimize your liquid intake right before bedtime.
Other tips for improving your sleep habits include:
- Turn off the TV at least 1-hour prior to bedtime – Use low-wattage bulbs in your bedroom where it’s safe to do so to help naturally boost your melatonin levels
- Make your bedroom dark, quiet and cool – Try ear plugs or a sound machine if you are sensitive to noise. Lower the temp at night and keep light at a minimum
- Turn your bedroom clock away from your view – Light from your clock can be disruptive. Plus, if you’re having trouble sleeping, watching the minutes tick by never makes time pass more quickly
- Keep a routine sleep schedule – Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
- Create a bedtime ritual – Take a bath, stretch, play music, meditate; whatever helps you wind down and relax
- Limit naps during the day – If you do enjoy naps, limit them to 15-45 minutes and nap early in the day
If you believe you’re having more than the usual problems falling or staying asleep, before you make an appointment with a doctor, you may first want to keep a sleep diary. Keep track of your diet, your physical activity, recent stresses, lifestyle changes, and of course your sleep habits.