How to Sleep Better as We Age

By June 24, 2016Lifestyle

There’s no “right” amount of sleep. What you consider a good amount can be entirely different than what your neighbor needs. Still experts recommend adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

As with other bodily functions, the efficiency of the brain in carrying out its sleep-related duties begins to decline over time, and this may lead to sleep problems. Such a decline in normal sleep probably begins in our 40s, though it may not be until years later, when we reach our 50s or 60s, that we finally become aware of a problem.

The brain produces less and less melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep at night and alertness during the day. As adults enter their senior years, sleep patterns may naturally shift to earlier in the day. If you feel rundown because of it, here are some ways to get better rest.

Tips to Sleep Tight

  • Stick to a regular bedtime. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Your body will get used to the routine.
  • Take a warm bath. When you get out of the tub, the drop in body temperature may help you feel tired. It can also help you relax and slow down, so you’re more ready to go to bed.
  • Take time to calm down before you turn out the lights. Turn off your electronic devices and TV an hour before bedtime. You can read a book, listen to music — whatever helps you unwind.
  • Make the bedroom a sleep zone. If you’re still awake 20 minutes after you hit the sack, get up. Train yourself to think of the bed as a place for sleeping only.
  • Avoid afternoon naps. If you sleep during the day, you’re more likely to stay awake at night.
  • Don’t drink alcohol close to bedtime. Even small amounts can make it harder to stay asleep. It can make you wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of alcohol have worn off.
  • Drink less fluid at night. Trips to the bathroom break up your sleep.
  • Wear yourself out. Exercise at regular times each day, but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.

If you still find you are having problems sleeping at night, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she may be able to help narrow down the reasons why you’re having problems getting a good night’s rest. Your doctor can check any medications you’re taking to see if they’re interfering with your zzz’s. If need be, you can get a referral to a sleep specialist.

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