As we age, sleep becomes quite elusive. Some people think that sleep needs decline as we age. However, according to sleepfoundation.org, our sleep need does not change across our adult years. Essentially it’s still recommended you get that 7-8 hours of sleep for a good rest.
In some cases, older adults report that they are not that satisfied with their sleep quality sometimes. They have trouble falling asleep. On top of the difficulty of catching sleep, the sleep quality tends to be lighter, and simple distractions such as light, vibrating phone, and notification sounds can rob precious sleep.
7 Tips To Improve Sleep Quality as You Age
Dozing off during daytime is quite frustrating, sometimes, embarrassing. Overall, you just don’t have enough energy for the day when you don’t get enough sleep. Here are 7 ways to improve your sleep quality:
1. Find time to be active.
If not contraindicated, exercise is generally recommended for everyone. It helps maintain a lot of body function, including metabolism and sleep. If you spent your energy during the day with some exercise, your body would have to recover at night.
Also, according to a study done by Harvard Medical School they found that exercise, even at night, is beneficial in promoting sleep. However, they advise avoidance of heavy and strenuous workout an hour before bedtime as it results in poor sleep quality.
2. Establish your waking and sleeping hours.
It’s easy to get caught up watching your favorite TV show or going through all the news articles at night, and before you know it, you are pulling an all-nighter, and there’s no turning back! Obviously, you won’t have enough sleep.
It would be difficult for the body to keep up with your activity if it’s not getting the right amount of sleep. And besides, if you are having trouble sleeping, randomly staying up late will only make things worse. It would be best to lie on your bed at the same time every night to enforce routine and form habits.
3. Get the right pillow and mattress.
Sleeping is not just laying down on your bed, closing your eyes, and waiting for the sun to rise. There are a few elements that influence the amount and quality of sleep you can have. The ambient room temperature, the right pillow, your mattress, the sheets you use, and the clothes you wear have a lot to do with your comfort level.
Your sleep is less likely to be interrupted when you are too comfortable to be bothered by noise, light, emails, and other notifications.
4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Both these substances can affect your ability to sleep (or inability) and the quality of sleep you get when you rest. Taking caffeinated drinks near bedtime inhibits your sleepiness. If you must take coffee, at least choose decaffeinated versions.
Alcohol, on the other hand, helps you fall asleep fast. However, since alcohol is a diuretic (a substance that makes you pee), you would often find yourself getting out of bed to pee in the middle of the night. Besides that, alcohol intake blocks the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep, the restorative part of the sleep cycle.
5. Limit your naps to naps to 20-30 minutes.
A power nap is one good way to get that second wind. Taking a nap, if its an option for you, can help you fight off sleepiness during the day. However, longer naps can interfere with your sleep cycle. If you sleep too much during the day, you may find it difficult to sleep at night.
6. Do not work where you sleep.
It’s tempting to run through your emails one final time before you shut your eyes. However, it interferes with your night-time routine, and the brain can get mixed signals and get confused. Our brain is an expert in associating things. You don’t want your brain associating your sleeping quarters to an office.
7. Create a sleep routine.
A sleep routine will not necessarily knock you immediately to sleep. However, creating a systematic sequence of repeatable activities will help your brain associate it with sleeping and signal you that it’s about to rest.
You may want to avoid including activities involving screens, as this may hamper your sleep. Screens emit blue light, the same blue light from the blue sky, that signals the brain that its waking hours. You may want to stick to reading, board games, and other forms of repetitive activities that won’t overstimulate the brain.
We all need a good night’s rest. No matter our age, we need the same amount of sleep to function well during the day. But as we grow older, sleep comes harder to come by.
Sometimes, tweaking your routine works like a charm. If you’ve done your best to improve your sleep to no avail, the next best thing you can do is to seek professional help.