How to Get Better Sleep
Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Do you still feel tired after you wake up in the morning? You're not alone. It's estimated that 40-70% of adults have chronic sleep problems.
How Sleep Changes as We Age
Experts recommend that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. As we get older, our circadian rhythms change. Light is a powerful tool for maintaining the circadian rhythms, but many seniors get less than an hour of sunlight each day. Additionally, as we get older, our bodies produce less melatonin. Melatonin is normally produced in response to darkness and helps control your circadian rhythms.
Health & Sleep
Many mental and physical conditions can affect the quality of your sleep. Depression, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis are all things that can interfere with a good night's sleep.
Medications can also contribute to sleep issues. Some medications (like antihistamines) can cause daytime drowsiness, while others (like antidepressants) cause insomnia.
What Can Help?
Exercise - Regular aerobic exercise can help promote good sleep.
Avoid distractions - TVs, phones, and bright lights can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Turn down the lights and limit your screen time before bed.
Get some sun - Sunlight helps to maintain your circadian rhythms, helping you sleep better.
Reduce caffeine - Try to avoid drinking coffee after noon. A 2013 study showed that drinking coffee 6 hours before bedtime reduced overall sleep time by an hour.
Take a warm bath - A 2019 study reported that taking a warm bath one to two hours before bed helped people fall asleep 10 minutes faster than normal.
Keep a schedule - Avoid sudden changes in your sleep schedule. This means going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. It can take days for your body to readjust to a new schedule. Keeping a routine makes it easier for your body to know when it's time to wind down.
Avoid naps - While a short daytime nap can be beneficial, longer or later naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Develop a routine - Find activities that help you relax before bedtime. Whether it's taking a bath, playing music, reading, or meditating, find something that helps you wind down from the day.
See your doctor - If you're unable to solve your sleep problems on your own, you may need to talk to your doctor. Keep a log of when you go to sleep and when you wake up and track your caffeine intake and exercise. This may help your doctor determine what is keeping you awake.