Our bodies and our lives change in many ways as we grow older. One of the changes you’ll notice as you age is in your sleep pattern. This is a part of the normal aging process. As people age, they tend to find it more difficult to fall asleep and they also have difficulty staying asleep than they did when they were younger. However, this does not mean that you need less sleep as you grow older. Studies have shown that sleep needs remain pretty much the same throughout adult life. So why do we have problems with sleep as we age? Research shows it’s down to the fact that our sleep patterns change. Older people generally take longer to fall asleep and they spend longer in the lighter stages of sleep than in deep sleep. They also wake more frequently during the night. This is why many older people report feeling more tired during the day. The main cause of these changes, researchers say, are physical and mental illnesses and medications used to treat them.
Tips for Beating Insomnia
So what can you do when you are having trouble sleeping? The first thing to do is to try and unwind before you go to bed. You can also:
- Have a relaxing bath: Soak in a hot tub with your favorite aromatherapy oil. Neroli and lavender oils are very relaxing.
- Mind your breathing: Learn some breathing techniques or use guided meditations to help you relax. You can download them and listen to them on your smartphone.
- Have a hot drink: A warm milky drink before bedtime can help you feel drowsy. Chamomile and lemon balm teas can also help you sleep better at night.
- Avoid napping: Try to avoid napping during the day if you can help it, this will make it easier for you to sleep longer at night.
- Keep a routine: Stick to a regular sleeping pattern. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. You can use Alarm Clock for Me to help you.
- Don’t exert yourself: Don’t exercise for at least three hours before you go to bed. This will stimulate your metabolism and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Use creative visualization: When you are lying in bed imagine a peaceful scene in your mind such as relaxing on your favorite beach or in a warm tub of water.
- Watch what you drink: Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Both of these will make it more difficult for you to sleep. They will also make you wake up more frequently during the night to use the bathroom.
If you are a senior who is having problems with sleeping and none of these techniques are helpful, you may wish to talk to your physician or have him refer you to a sleep specialist for help.