As you age it is common to experience changes in your sleep patterns. You may start to fall asleep earlier, wake up earlier, wake up in the night, and not get the same amount of deep sleep that you used to. All of this is fine so long as you are still averaging between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
If you feel as though you are not getting the right amount of sleep or inadequate sleep, you can try these five great sleep tips for people over 60:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Your body has an internal clock that helps regulate when you sleep. You can “set” that clock by maintaining regular sleep and wake times. Every day you should shoot for the same bedtime. You should also aim to wake up around the same time, too. Your body will become accustomed to this routine, and you will be able to get to sleep and stay asleep, easier.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime routine. After you have determined a good bedtime for yourself, you should set a routine that prepares your mind and body for sleep. Avoid electronics and television for at least an hour before bedtime to avoid unneeded stimulation. Instead, use that time to read a book or listen to calming music. You may also consider taking a warm bath as a part of your routine. When you get out of the warm water your body’s temperature will drop which can help you to feel sleepy. It is also a great way to wind down and relax. Performing a regular bedtime ritual will help trigger your mind and body to prepare to go to sleep.
- Keep your bedroom a “sleep only” zone. The brain is a funny thing, and it will often associate places and items with behaviors and actions we should be performing. You should train your brain to associate your bedroom, and specifically your bed, with sleep. If you find that you are still awake after 20-30 minutes you should get back out of bed. Find a quiet place and practice some calming breaths for a little while. Get back into bed when you feel that you are tired enough to fall asleep.
- Exercise daily. As you age, joints and muscles stiffen and ache which can make it difficult to sleep throughout the night. Even maintaining a light exercise routine can help to keep things loose making it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. It will also help to make sure that you are burning enough energy throughout the day so that you are ready to sleep come bedtime. However, you shouldn’t just jump into any kind of strenuous exercise. Talk to your primary care physician to determine what is best for you. And remember, exercise can be quite stimulating so make sure not to do it within three hours of bedtime.
- Drink less at night. Many older adults will begin to experience a condition in which they need to get up frequently during the night to urinate. This is something known as nocturia. Nocturia is often linked to sleep apnea, so if this is something waking you in the night, please speak with a physician or one of our sleep specialists. In the meantime, cut down on drinks within two hours of bedtime. Take extra care in avoiding tea, coffee, and alcohol within this time frame as they cause quicker urine production.
If you try these five tips and still find that you are having trouble getting enough quality sleep at night, there may be an underlying issue. Talk to your physician to see if perhaps any medications you may be taking are interfering with your sleep quality. If not, schedule a consultation with the experts at Family Sleep Diagnostics. We can help you determine if your sleep problems are the result of a sleep disorder or medical condition so that you can get the proper treatment and get the quality sleep you need.