We all know that sleep is supposed to be good for us. It helps improve
memory and concentration, helps the body heal damaged cells, and refreshes
your immune system. However, what happens when we age? Many people assume
that the older we get, the less sleep we need. Unfortunately, this is
a myth that refuses to be put to bed. The truth is that as we age, we
require just as much sleep as we did when we were in our younger years.
The National Institute on Aging recommends seven to nine hours of sleep a night. This number can vary
depending on a person’s age and health requirements. The bottom
line when it comes to sleep and healthy aging is getting enough rest that
leaves you feeling rejuvenated.
Learn common issues that can cause sleepless nights and how to create better
sleeping habits below!
Common Sleep Problems
As we age, we create new sleeping patterns. Generally, we tend to go to
bed earlier and wake up earlier, and some seniors take more naps. But
while the body may need more sleep as we grow older, we don’t always
receive it. Many issues can interfere with your quest for a full night’s sleep.
Some causes of sleep problems include:
- Sleep disorders
- Poor sleep habits
- Pain/medical conditions
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of social engagements
Here are common conditions that may rob you of valuable rest:
Insomnia – Insomnia is the inability to go to sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation reports an average of 39% of seniors suffer from insomnia. This condition
can last anywhere from a night, a month, or even years.
Sleep Apnea – Those who suffer from sleep apnea have short pauses in breathing
while they sleep. The hitches in breath occur throughout the night. While
the sleeper may not notice the symptoms, those around them might because
of snoring or sharp gasps. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to
problems such as strokes, high blood pressure, and memory loss.
Alzheimer’s Disease – Alzheimer’s disease changes the body’s sleeping pattern
leading some to sleep too much while others sleep too little. Behavioral
changes can cause the person to wander or yell at night as well.
Tips for Sweeter Dreams
If you do find yourself dreaming about getting a good night’s sleep,
hope is not lost. You can adjust some things in your life to help persuade
your mind and body to go to sleep.
Tips on sleeping better:
- Create a bedtime routine to alert your body that it’s time to go to sleep.
- Try to follow a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at
the same time.
- Make sure your bedroom and bed are both comfortable.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine before bed.
- Try not to exercise three hours before sleeping.
- Drink fewer beverages at night, so you will not wake up to pee.
- Take time to unwind and relax before bed (though avoid stimulants).
- Use the bedroom only for sleeping—enter it when you are tired enough to rest.
If you lose sleep about aging, you are doing yourself a disservice. Sleep
is a key component to looking and feeling more youthful. Take the time
to set yourself up for a good night’s rest. Interested in more tips
on healthy aging? Check back in with our blog!