As you age, your body undergoes physical and physiological changes that will affect the quality and quantity of your sleep. You will, for one thing, be likely to sleep later and wake up earlier, as well as be a light sleeper. You may even complain that you’re not getting as much sleep as you did in your younger days!
But why become frustrated over these changes? You can instead look at the ways that you can change your sleep, diet and exercise, and stress habits so as to enjoy better sleep! You may have no control over natural aging but you definitely have control over what you should and shouldn’t do to enjoy better quality of sleep and, thus, better quality of life as you become older.
#1 Improve Your Bedtime Habits
You may have bad bedtime habits that are getting in the way of your restful sleep during the night. You have to sit down and identify these habits, accept them for what they are, and then adopt measures to kick them out of your system.
Here are important tips that will improve your bedtime habits.
- Adopt relaxing bedtime rituals. Take a warm bath, massage your body, and meditating for a half-hour are great ways to wind down from your day and, thus, encourage your mind and body into sleep-ready state.
- Enjoy sex before sleep, if you can, because the physical intimacy (e.g., hugging and spooning) can result in restful sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning, even on lazy weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will aid your body’s sleep-wake cycle to become normal again.
- Boost your melatonin level by turning off most, if not all, artificial lights in your bedroom before going to bed. Turn off the television and computer, too, at least an hour before bedtime. Place your cellphone facedown, if necessary, and turn it to silent mode so its light and sound will not interfere with your sleep during the night.
- Ensure that your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Your bed should be comfortable, too; we recommend a Sleepwell. As you age, you will become more sensitive to noise, light and heat so keeping these things to a minimum will contribute to better sleep.
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You should also consider mid-afternoon naps. Even a short 5-minute nap can make you feel more alert in mind and body. But avoid napping for more than 45 minutes because you’ll probably wake up groggy.
#2 Improve Your Diet and Exercise Habits
What you put into your body and you put your body through will have an impact on the quality of your sleep. You must then be mindful of your diet and exercise habits, especially the ones an hour or so before bedtime.
- Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, soda and tea, as well as chocolate late in the day. If you must drink these beverages, you should do so early in the day so as not to affect your sleep later on.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before bedtime, too, because these will disrupt your sleep. These may initially make you feel sleepy but you will wake up intermittently afterwards.
- Eat a light snack, such as a glass of warm milk or a small bowl of low-sugar cereal, before going to bed but only if you feel hungry. This way, you won’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to satisfy your hunger.
- Limit your intake of sugary, spicy, and salty foods throughout the day, especially during dinner. These include fries, white rice, pasta, and white bread as well as the typical cookies and cakes. These foods cause wakefulness during the night so you will likely be pulled out from your deep sleep, the most restorative stage.
- Limit your meals at night since you can end up with discomfort or indigestion otherwise. You should also ideally eat your dinner at least three hours before your scheduled bedtime.
- Minimize your liquid intake before your bedtime, too. You won’t have to wake up to urinate as often as before.
As for exercise, you should try to become more physically active during the day. Your mind and body will then be tired enough to sleep easier and faster. You don’t even have to engage in extremely strenuous exercises as moderate exercises are best, especially when you have mobility issues.
A few ideas for suitable exercises for older adults are swimming and water exercises, lawn bowling, golfing, cycling, running, and dancing. Aerobic exercises have been proven to aid older adults in sleeping better, and it includes lengthening the sleep duration.
You should also manage your stress levels before sleep. Just as you shouldn’t bring work to your home, you should ideally leave your worries outside of the bedroom door. You may want to try meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques to make your mind as blank as possible.
Getting older shouldn’t be an issue because it’s a privilege! But if you’re having issues sleeping, then you should take the proper measures to address it, and it can start by adopting the above-mentioned tips.