Feeling sleepy earlier and getting up earlier — these are considered as normal as you get older. The same is true with waking up several times at night due to the fact that older people tend to enjoy less deep sleep, which is normal given that the body produces lower levels of human growth hormone (HGH) and melatonin, a couple of chemicals vital for a good night’s sleep. However, it’s important to note that having insomnia and all the various symptoms associated with it is not really a part of getting older — it can be due to certain issues that need to be addressed properly.
Sleep is important for everyone, including most especially older adults. That’s because it is while they are asleep when their bodies undergo intensive repair. Also, spending enough time in dreamland helps keep the immune system strong, which is vital for the prevention of diseases brought about by microbes invading the body.
According to experts, older people may suffer from problems concerning the mood, attention span and memory if they do not get enough sleep at night. Their risk of weight problems, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer may increase considerably. So how much sleep should an elderly person get per night? It all depends on the individual’s body and specific needs — experts say that 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night is recommended, but a more important gauge would be having that refreshed feeling the following day rather than feeling exhausted and sleepy.
The following are some smart tips on sleeping well as you age:
Tip #1: Know What’s Normal and What’s Not
As mentioned earlier, it is perfectly normal for you to want to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier the next day. Also, you may find that you want to spend more time in bed as well as take a nap somewhere in the middle of the day.
However, what’s not normal is suffering from insomnia and experiencing the various symptoms and consequences it brings. For instance, having a hard time getting to sleep at night even though you feel very tired is not normal. The same is true with matters like feeling moody and excessively sleepy during the day. Counting on sleeping pills and alcohol to encourage sleepiness is definitely not normal.
Tip #2: Identify Potential Sleep Saboteurs
Several reasons can be behind your inability to attain a good night’s sleep. One of the most common culprits behind such is stress. Naturally, constantly worrying about something can keep you from falling asleep as well as enjoying sleep that leaves you feeling rejuvenated the following day.
Your diet may be the one ruining your sleep habits. For instance, drinking caffeinated beverages can surely keep you wide awake at night. Lack of physical activity during the day and the use of electronics such as TV, laptops and cell phones can disrupt one’s body clock. Certain medications may cause insomnia as a side effect. Some health issues like arthritis and diabetes can also cause insomnia, and consulting your doctor is imperative.
Tip #3: Take the Necessary Steps to Improve Sleep Habits
Once your sleep saboteurs have been identified, the next step to take is to have them addressed properly. For example, you may limit your intake of caffeine late in the day. The likes of jasmine tea and chamomile tea are known to promote sleep at night, as well as tart cherry juice and a warm glass of milk.
It is definitely important to manage psychological stress in order for you to sleep much better at night. Just about anything that can keep your mind preoccupied and your nerves relaxed can help combat stress, such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, painting, or spending time with your pet.
Tip #4: Consult a Sleep Specialist
Finally, it is definitely a good idea to talk to a doctor if none of the things you do seem to help you obtain a good night’s sleep so that you may be referred to a sleep specialist. Some older adults are also referred by their doctors to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy to help them cope with sleep-related issues.