It’s a common misconception that as you get older, you need less sleep. While the amount of sleep each of us really needs varies, experts typically recommend that we get somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Many adults have trouble sleeping, constantly feel tired, or have other concerns regarding their sleep. Below are some explanations and causes for trouble sleeping as well as tips on how to get more sleep so that you can have more energy throughout the day and live more actively!
What Causes Sleep Deprivation as You Age?
Our sleep patterns tend to adjust as we age. Many people find that they get tired sooner and wake up much earlier.
However, many of us don’t make a conscious decision to adapt to this change, at least right away. Instead, we try to maintain our lifestyle, staying up late and sleeping in when possible.
Simply put, as our bodies change, our routines don’t adjust with them.
Other causes of sleep deprivation as we age are:
- Less bladder control causing a frequent need to urinate
- Anxiety or depression
- Discomfort or pain
- Effects from medication
How to Sleep Better as You Age
After considering the above, try some of these tips for getting better sleep!
1. Adjust Your Routine
As mentioned above, our internal clock and our alarm clock are often not in sync. Listen to your body! If/when you start to feel tired earlier, go to sleep earlier.
Create a routine and make plans around your sleep or sleep patterns. This way, you’ll know that you will get enough rest so that you’ll have the energy you need tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond.
2. Watch What You Put into Your Body
As we age, our bladders hold less urine and fill more rapidly because of the lack of hormones that help us to retain fluids. If you get up at night two, three, four, or more times to use the bathroom, you’re more than likely not getting a good night’s sleep.
Here are a few steps you can take to avoid this type of late-night disruption:
- Limit your fluid intake two-hours prior to bedtime. It’s especially important to stay away from bladder stimulants like caffeine alcohol, or other carbonated beverages.
- Reduce your consumption of acidic drinks, fruits, and condiments like oranges, pineapples, tomatoes, and condiments like soy sauce, vinegar, and ketchup, which can disrupt your bladder and increase your urge to pee.
- Control your sweet tooth! Excess sugar causes more fluids to pass through the kidneys, and in turn, increases how often you need to use the bathroom.
- In addition to sweets, spicy foods can irritate your bladder, so avoid these as well.
- Avoid preservatives! Among other health issues linked to processed foods is irritation of the bladder. Swap these for more natural, home-cooked dishes and desserts.
3. Get Checked for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea, a common issue amongst the elderly, occurs when your airways are blocked during sleep, reducing your airflow and disrupting your sleep. If you snore heavily, wake up gasping for air, constantly wake up with a dry mouth, or are often tired despite seeming to get enough sleep, ask your doctor to test you for sleep apnea.
Aside from disrupting your sleep, sleep apnea can have more serious, and grave consequences, such as death. It’s imperative that you get checked if you show signs of sleep apnea.
4. Talk to Your Doctor About Pain Treatments
If you’re feeling chronic pain, especially while laying down, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend stretches, exercises, physical therapy, different sleeping adjustments, or medication to reduce your pain.
If you’re already taking medicine (for any reason) and you suspect that it’s affecting your sleep, ask your doctor about this as well. As we age, the effects medicine has on us change as well. Your doctor will be able to make alternative recommendations that may impact your sleep less.
5. Avoid Napping
While they’re sometimes unavoidable, naps can have a major impact on your sleep. If you’re feeling tired during the day, consider trying a more energizing activity, such as going for a walk or drinking a glass of ice water, as opposed to taking a nap. Avoiding naps will help you maintain a more consistent sleep routine.
Get Better ZZZZZs!
Contrary to popular belief, getting enough ZZZZZs is extremely important as you age. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your mood, productivity, overall well-being, and has been shown to reduce life expectancy.
Try the tips above to sleep better and live more actively!
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