As you get older, are you finding it harder and harder to get a good night sleep? Starting from around 40 years of age, getting deep, high quality sleep does get harder. Whether it’s difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep through the night here are a few reasons why this might be happening.
1) Certain health conditions and disorders can interrupt your sleep habits.
These include heartburn, arthritis, heart failure, and lung disease. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, and movement disorders (restless leg syndrome) can make it difficult as well. Menopause is also known for causing night sweats and sleep problems.
2) You may have to pee more at night which can disrupt your sleep.
This may be due to an enlarged prostate, or due to some medications such as blood pressure medications.
3) Often older adults fall asleep early and sometimes too early.
This can result in waking up earlier and not being able to get back to sleep.
4) Older adults tend to get less deep sleep than younger people so the quality of sleep changes.
5) Health issues such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis can cause pain and make it hard to sleep.
As well, as we age, the third layer of skin becomes thinner which lowers the amount of cushioning we have making it harder to find a comfortable
6) As we get older, our natural circadian rhythm changes which is responsible for our sleep-wake cycle.
As we age, our bodies do not make as much melatonin, the hormone that triggers sleepiness, but it also produces and releases earlier in the day. This will
result in feeling sleepier earlier.
So what can we do to help limit the impact on our sleep? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Be strategic with your medications.
If you can, take any medication that causes drowsiness at night and ones that may negatively impact on sleep earlier in the day. Your pharmacist or
doctor can help you with this.
2) Stop drinking earlier in the evening.
Drinking a lot in the evening will result in waking up to pee during the night.
3) Make some changes to create a more comfortable sleeping arrangement.
You may need new pillows, mattress, or light restricting curtains.
4) Limit the amount of bright lights you are exposed right before bedtime.
This includes TVs, devices, phones, etc. If you find you drift off in the living room too early, add more light to help keep you awake.
5) Add more activity to your day.
Exercise can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and give you a better quality sleep.
6) Avoid naps.
Anything longer than 20 minutes will interfere with your night time sleep.
7) Avoid caffeine in the afternoon/evening.
Caffeine stays in your system longer than you think so try to stick with drinking coffee in the morning only.
8) Get more sunshine during the day.
Sunlight will help correct your circadian rhythm. The more sunlight you can get during the day the better it will be for you.