As you age, you start sleeping, “like a baby.”
That phrase typically means sleeping soundly. But as many parents can attest, it more often means frequent waking, early bedtimes and early rising, and napping during the day.
Even with ideal sleep conditions—from the perfect temperature to good health and consistent bedtimes—we all experience poor sleep at some point. Maybe your bladder has woken you up in the middle of the night, or perhaps you’ve had aches and pains that prevented you from falling asleep quickly.
If you find your sleep patterns shifting, you’re in good company.
Changes in sleep are a normal part of the aging process. Seniors often wake more frequently during the night and experience lower quality of sleep, which is why they nap occasionally during the day. Others find themselves falling asleep at times they used to be quite alert. Conversely, some seniors become morning people when they used to be night owls.
Causes of sleep changes
Some of these shifts may be caused by normal changes in the body. For example, it may be that seniors produce less melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep. Changes in one’s environment, such as a recent move, noises, or even a new mattress, could be the cause. For many seniors, discomfort or pain from health issues sometimes keeps them awake.
Sleeping more soundly
The good news is that most seniors can improve their sleep by putting a few good habits in place.
- Exercise moderately in the afternoon. Towne Club Windermere offers exercise classes for many fitness levels, a resort-style salt-water pool, walking trails, and many other activities so you can find one that suits your interests.
- Avoid screen time an hour before bed. Try shutting off the TV or iPad and find a wind-down ritual that works for you.
- Stop drinking caffeine or other stimulants at least three hours before bed. Try sipping warm milk, decaffeinated tea, or another warm beverage instead.
- Turn in at the same time every night.
- Avoid naps during the day. This can be hard if you have been sleeping poorly, but it’s important for sleep rhythms.
While sleep aids (medications) might seem like a good way to enhance sleep, they can have adverse effects on seniors, so it’s best to consult your physician before starting any medication regimen.
Sleep is good medicine
A good night’s sleep is like your body’s waste removal system, enabling you to function better the next day. Recent research shows that six to nine hours of sleep a clears out toxins, keeps you mentally sharp, helps you process information faster, and may keep additional wrinkles at bay. Now that’s alternative medicine!
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