As you come of age, most people will notice changes in your sleeping patterns and that is normal. Older adults find it hard to sleep than when they were teens and easy to stay awake. Why so? Changes in sleeping patterns, also known ‘sleep architecture’ exists and that causes sleep issues. You should know that sleep comes with several stages, such as light and deep sleep (dreamless periods) and occasional active dreaming known as REM sleep. This is a cycle repeating several times each night although sleep time remain constant, but older adults spend more time in lighter sleep periods than they deep sleep.
What Sleep Does for You?
Sleeping well is crucial for emotional and physical health and well-being, especially for older adults because it helps them form and retain memory and improve concentration. Sleep also allows the body to repair any cell damage it acquires during the day as well as it refreshes the immune system that leads to stronger body resistance against disease. And if you don’t get enough of sleep, you might suffer from an a lack of energy as well as health problems.
So how many hours of sleep should you get? Sleep requirements vary from individual to individual, but healthy adults need an average of seven and at most nine hours of sleep every night to perform at their best. But aside from looking into the number of sleep hours you get at night, you also have to look into how you feel after a night of sleep. Feeling tired during the day or frequently waking up at night may be indicators that you are not actually getting enough of sleep due to a sleeping problem you have to address.
Tips to Improve Sleep
- Understand how sleep is changing as you are aging. Take note your body is producing lower growth hormone levels, leading to decrease in deep sleep. Following, your body will make less melatonin. And when this happens, you will experience more fragmented sleep cycles making you wake up several times at night. Not only that these changes happen but your body also suffer from a change in your circadian rhythm (internal clock) that tells you when to sleep/wake up, making you want to get to bed early at night and wake up early in the morning.
- Be engaged in social activities at daytime to prepare your body for sleeping. Now if you were retired, you can also get involved in senior or volunteer groups or take adult education classes.
- Develop a positive attitude and life outlook to reduce sleeping problems. You can also find people to talk to, if you have problems and worries, because this helps you lessen the burden you might be feeling. Remember that no one can avoid suffering from stress, positive or negative, but you can learn how to manage and minimize its effects. One thing to do is to practice proper breathing techniques that help improve blood circulation, leading to better focus on what matters. In addition to these, you should learn how to let go of things you cannot have a control over so that you can avoid stress.
- Get sunlight to regulate melatonin and improve sleep-wake cycles. You can get at least two hours of sunlight daily by keeping your shades and curtains open during daytime. Move your chair to a sunny spot and read your favorite newspaper there.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake because these stimulants interfere with sleep quality. Instead, you can have green tea and fresh fruit juices that do not only improve sleep quality but also relax your mind and relieve stress.
Living an active life, getting enough sunlight, managing stress and understanding how sleeping is changing as you age are some of the most important tips to remember to deal with sleep issues that come with aging. Finally, develop a positive life outlook and free your mind from worries to get good sleep every night.