Sleep and Aging

by Allie Brito February 10, 2017

Sleep and Aging

 

We all like to think that with age, comes wisdom (usually). However, the fact is, there are other, less glamorous changes that manifest as the years go by. One of those being how we sleep. Sleep is a key part of living a healthy life for everyone. It helps our cells re-generate and allows our body to heal itself night after night. Unfortunately though, many individuals may notice shorter nights, increased frequency of waking up during the course of the night, and a harder time falling asleep as they get older.

Seniors and Sleep

According to a national poll as reported by the National Sleep Foundation, 24% of those ages 65-84 are diagnosed with four or more medical conditions. Of this group, 80% reported having some type of sleep problem. Also, the older age group were found to have more consistent sleep patterns both during the week and weekend. If seniors get more consistent sleep than younger adults, then why do we see such prevalent issues with sleep for this age group?  

While a single answer as to why seniors suffer from increased sleep issues isn’t clear yet, research suggests a few different possibilities. Sleep disturbance as we age may be attributed to physical and psychiatric age-related illnesses and the medications used to treat those illnesses. Other theories have to do with the circadian rhythms that affect our sleep cycles and coordinate the timing of our bodily functions. Older adults tend to feel sleepier earlier in the evening and wake earlier in the morning compared to younger adults.

Getting a Better Nights Sleep is Possible

If you've found yourself falling into the category of someone who isn't getting as much quality sleep as you used to, not all hope is lost. WebMD has some excellent suggestions for those of you looking for new ways to catch that much needed shut-eye!  

  • Routine is key. Stick to a regular bedtime and wake time, even on the weekends.
  • Start a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual. Take a warm bath before you go to bed. The drop in temperature once you get out of the tub should actually help your metabolism slow down and your body feel more tired.
  • Unplug from the world. Lit up phone screens and televisions can cause your brain to stay awake for longer than desired. Make it a habit to calm down lights and screens before you even attempt getting shut-eye.
  • Avoid naps if you aren’t used to them. My Grandmother takes a 2 hour nap every day, so it never disrupts her sleep at night, however, if you aren’t used to it, naps during the day can keep you up at night!
  • Make yourself tired-wear that body out (in a good way). Exercise daily and give your body something to really want to rest from. Even walking a few minutes a day can make a difference!
  • Don’t drink alcohol close to bedtime. This will make your blood sugar spike and can make it harder for your body to stay asleep- even waking you in the middle of the night.
  • Ask your doctor. If all else fails, we always recommend that with any issue affecting your body and wellness, consult a professional who can help you take the right steps towards feeling healthier and happier! 

 

 




Allie Brito
Allie Brito

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