Most adults over the age of 65 still need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to feel rested. However, as you age, your sleep patterns may change, and you may find you have difficulty staying asleep.
Regularly having poor sleep patterns can contribute to many problems and lead to a reduced quality of life in people over 65.
Long term sleep problems shouldn’t be treated as a normal part of ageing.
The UN predicts that the number of people over the age of 60 will double by 2040. Ageing is associated with many health conditions, including poor sleeping. But poor sleep contributes to many of these health concerns, thereby reducing the quality of life for many older adults. Since almost one-third of our lives are spent sleeping, it’s important to get it right to promote good health and well-being. I mean, who wants to feel tired and grumpy every day?
Here, we will look at some common sleep problems you may be facing as you age and what you can do to get a better night’s sleep.
Common sleep issues in over 65s
Older adults need the same amount of sleep as younger adults, but some sleep issues can arise as you age. These include:
- Becoming sleepy earlier in the evening.
- Waking up earlier in the morning.
- Waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to fall back to sleep.
- More serious sleep conditions such as Insomnia, Sleep Apnoea, Restless Leg Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.
Tips for a better night’s sleep
The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to maintain good sleep habits. Here are some things to consider.
- Get into a good sleep routine – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Establish a good bedtime routine, such as having a bath, herbal tea and reading a book. This helps your body (and brain) to expect that sleep comes next.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine as these are stimulants.
- Avoid alcohol – you may think it helps you sleep. It may indeed help you fall asleep, but it reduces the quality of sleep.
- Leave 2-3 hours between your evening meal and bedtime as it can be hard to fall asleep on a full stomach.
- Have your bedroom cool, dark, and comfortable.
- Don’t watch TV in bed or use your phone or computer before bed. The light they emit stimulates the brain.
- Avoid daytime napping, or, if you need to, try to keep it short and at the same time each day.
- Try and incorporate some movement each day to help burn off any excess energy so you feel more tired at night-time.
- Keep a sleep diary so you can see any improvements.
When to see a doctor
If self-help measures haven’t worked and you’ve been experiencing sleep problems for more than a month, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. There are other methods and medicines that can be considered if deemed necessary. Learn more about common sleep disorders in older age.
The important thing to remember is not to accept poor sleep – or the problems it brings – as a normal part of ageing and something you have to live with. Sleep is extremely important to maintain good health and immunity, as well as good mood and relationships. So always seek help if you are struggling.