Sleeping and Age: What Happens and What to Do

As we age, there are times when we will feel tired, lethargic and under the weather in the energy stakes. Many people experience changes in their sleeping patterns that raise their head as one ages. Sleep can become much more fragmented, we may not sleep as deeply as we used to and we may also find that we wake up more often throughout our sleep.

All in all, it can really disrupt your life if you suffer from sleep disorders, because quality sleep will help you achieve positive wellbeing.

So the big question now is:

How does our sleep change as we age?
Well one thing to note is that age alone isn’t the reason why so many older people suffer from sleeping problems. Often it is due to poor sleeping habits, medications, sleep disorders that have not been treated and other medical problems.

Here though are commonly experienced sleep problems older people face:

• Difficulty getting to sleep
• Waking up frequently throughout the night
• A lighter sleep than normal
• Waking up tired
• Wanting to go to bed very early in the evening
• Feeling sleepy during the day
• Needing daytime naps

Often the reasons for the above sleep problems are:

• Poor sleep habits: This is the most common cause of sleeping problems in older people. Older people often sleep irregular hours, they sleep too often during the day and they may drink alcohol before bedtime. All of these contribute to poor sleep.
• Medications: It’s no surprise that older people take more medication than younger people, and some of the side-effects of drugs can cause sleeping problems.
• Pain or illness: This can really wreak havoc with sleep in the older population.
• Lack of physical exercise: Older people who do not keep physically active tend to feel sleepy all the time or they may not feel sleepy at all. Either way, it can really get in the way of a good sleep.
• Psychological issues: Stress or other disorders can increase anxiety and impair sleep. E.g. big life changes such as the death of a loved one, can cause great stress and impair sleep.
• Sleep disorders: Insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome (RLS) can also cause problems with sleep.
What you can do now to improve sleep
The best thing you can do right now is get active both physically and mentally!

 Do a bit of reading each day and engage your mind: Get your mind thinking and you will increase your wellbeing.
 Get active: Physical activity is great! It will get you feeling so much better about yourself, thanks to the endorphins that will flood throughout your body and you will feel much more relaxed when it comes time for bed.
 Enjoy a healthy diet: Good nutrition is good for your physical health and wellbeing – and helps you to sleep well too.

Don’t do nothing! Remember your wellbeing and physical health requires you to sleep well, so start adopting the above mentioned healthy habits today.