Aging and Sleep
As you get older, your sleep patterns may change. You may find that you get fewer hours of shut-eye, and you wake up more often during the night. But there steps you can take to help you get the rest you need.
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
Every person's sleep needs are different. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours a night.
If you're getting less sleep than when you were younger but still feel rested and energetic during the day, it might just be that you now need less sleep than you used to.
But if your lack of sleep affects you during the day, then it's time to take action.
First, try the easiest things, like these:
- Stick to a regular bedtime.
- Turn off your computer and TV an hour before bed.
- Take a little time to relax before you go to sleep.
- Spend less time in bed. If you can, get up. You want to train your brain that the bed is for sleep.
- Limit daytime naps.
- If you can't sleep, get up for a little while and try again.
- Don't drink alcohol close to bedtime.
If that doesn't take care of your sleep problems, tell your doctor about it. He can check on any conditions you might have, your medications, and let you know if a sleep specialist might help.
What Else Might Cause Sleep Problems When You’re Older?
Find out if there are any special problems that might be causing you to lose sleep. Tackling them could help you sleep better.
Change. Life changes such as moving, physical limitations due to illness, or the death of a loved one can cause stress and make it hard to sleep. Talk to your family or meet with a counselor to find ways to manage your stress.
Conditions. Arthritis, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome can all make sleeping harder. Your doctor can recommend treatments for these.
Retirement. You might have a lot more downtime and be less active during the day. That can throw off your sleep-wake schedule. Consider keeping busy with volunteer work or hobbies.
Illness. If you have heart failure, arthritis, heartburn, an enlarged prostate, or Alzheimer's disease, then you may have a hard time falling or staying asleep. Medication and therapy for these conditions can help you get better rest at night.
Medications. Some drugs might keep you from falling asleep or staying asleep. Some can even make you feel more awake at night. Talk to your doctor to see if you can adjust the dosages or change medications.