You may experience bouts of sleeplessness as you age. You may have trouble going to sleep, may stay awake in the middle of the night, and may even wake up in the night, and then have difficult falling back to sleep.
Sleeping cycle of every person changes with age, but there are many ways to ensure a nice night’s rest.
In most cases, this is due to normal aging process, but it’s not that you need less sleep because you’re growing older. Past research shows that your “sleep needs to stay constant throughout your adulthood,’ says Dr. Epstein Lawrence, associate physician (Sleep and Circadian Disorders Division at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital). Actually, it’s sleep patterns of a person that show change, and that really interferes with sleep quality.
The role of various sleep aids
Many older adults prefer OTC sleep aids when they experience trouble falling and staying asleep, but they are fine only for short periods. These medicines contain antihistamines that make you sleepy and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. They quickly lose effectiveness if used on regular basis. Since these sleep aids never address underlying issues that interfere with your seep, its better to speak with your doctor.
What’s keeping you up?
Did you know sleep is even more important as you age. Healthy sleep is directly linked to lower rates of inflammation, better cognitive functioning and lower risk of heart disease, migraine attacks, and even better resistance against viruses like common cold and influenza.
All those who sleep less have higher risk of migraine attacks, depression, dementia, confusion, memory loss, and anxiety. “Its so simple: all those who sleep well tend to be much healthier and live longer” says, Dr. Epstein.
Sleep mostly occurs in sequence of stages, including some dreamless period of light and then deep sleep, and there are some occasional periods of active dreaming, also known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The particular cycle is repeated many times during the night. It has been found that older people spend more time in lighter stages of sleep rather than slipping in deep sleep. In lighter stages, it’s very easy to be aroused, which makes it cumber to fall back to sleep.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to change your sleeping cycle so try to address issues that make you wake up from your lighter sleep. In most cases, they are sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and needing to urinate during the night.
Nocturia (waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom) can disrupt first four to five hours of sleep, which are vital for restoration. “It’s better to avoid drinking water or other beverages close to your bedtime, as this may increase need to urinate in the night, “says Dr. Epstein.
Also, all those who take diuretics (water pills) to manage their blood pressure, should consult their doctor
Also, all those who depend on diuretics (water pills) to lower blood pressure, should consult doctor about the possibility of adjusting their dosage. If you still have issues with nocturia, it could be related to many other conditions that need urgent medical attention, like urinary tract or bladder infection, or an enlarged prostate.
When soft tissue situated at the back of the throat loosens and collapses, it blocks the upper airway during sleep. This may cause sufferer to experience short pauses in their breathing several times during the night. It’s easy for your bed partner to help identify sleep apnea. However, if you’re alone, try to identify sings such as daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and issues with concentration.
All those who feel they have sleep apnea must see their doctor. They need to learn ways to sleep in a position that keep their airways open. Another interesting option is to make use of continuous positive airway pressure device that has a mask connected to bedside machine through a tube. This machine can blow air through the tube and mask into the air passages to keep airways open while you sleep.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
All those with RLS feel sensations of crawling, tingling, or pins and needles in either both or one of their legs that often creates a continuous urge to move the legs. This worsens at night. Get in touch with your doctor for more information about exercises and medicines used to treat RLS.
How much sleep you actually need?
Older adults need eight to ten hours of sleep each night, according to Dr. Epstein, associate physician based at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Many health problems can arise when you sleep fewer than eight hours each night,” he says. Its best to stick to the number of hours you’ve slept in the past. If you feel you need some more sleep, then examine the issues that might be affecting your sleep quality.
Try to Get some rest
There are many other issues that can disrupt sleep, and induce migraine attacks. They are arthritis, depression, and lack of regular exercise, so it helps to speak with your doctor if you feel any of them might be an issue.
Improve Sleep Quality with Good Sleep Habits:
a) Maintain a regular sleep schedule
One should approach sleep like a structured part of life. Try to go to bed the same time each night, and give yourself at least 40-50 minutes beforehand to bathe, relax, and brush your teeth.
This regular ritual is an indication to your body and mind that now’s the time to slow down, which definitely makes falling asleep easier. Also, avoid distractions or stimulations in your bedroom like a phone, computer, or TV. Make your bedroom quiet and dark, and listen to a good white-noise machine, if need, as this will help you relax.
b) Watch the alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are stimulants that make it harder to fall asleep. In fact, alcohol may make you sleepy, but will cause fragmented sleep. So avoid drinking anything that contains them at least two to three hours before you go to be. This can make a huge difference for you.
c) Naps can affect sleep quality
Naps have big impact on your sleep quality. If you nap extensively during the day or maybe close to normal bedtime, like after 7 p.m., it can disrupt your day-to-day normal sleep cycle. Yet, if you constantly feel sleepy throughout the day, a short 25-30 minute nap can be reinvigorating. It’s best to set a time, as this would keep you from sleeping too long, and try to schedule your naps during a specific time of day, such as early or late afternoon.
Sleep is definitely an essential part of a healthy life, so make all efforts to ensure the quality of your sleep. “Mostly being unable to sleep properly becomes a habit, and you may being to worry about not sleeping even before you get into bed, which makes it even harder to fall and stay asleep,” says Dr. Epstein. However, right approach will definitely help you overcome poor sleep!